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7 Tips to Make Your Story Pitch Hit Home

Sending a generic pitch to a journalist is like walking up to a stranger in a bar and proposing. Odds are they won’t even let you buy them a drink. ​
The bottom line

“EMBARGO” will not get a journalist to open your email.

Journalists’ inboxes are crawling with headlines that scream “PLEASE READ ME” in upper case letters. And when a journalist does open your email there’s the second order mistakes most PRs are making.  

It’s not that the story is uninteresting, but you haven’t go-ne through the steps of what goes into a good pitch. 

We’ve got you covered. Here are the top 7 tips and tricks to get your pitch read, and accepted, every time. Along with those KPIs dialed in.

Table of Contents

Do Your Own Research

The age-old crypto adage of DYOR can be useful not only for trading “shitcoins”, but also pitching journo’s.

When it comes to crypto PR, researching and picking the journalist to pitch should come after you understand the focus of the media outlet they work for. Because one thing is sending a journalist a pitch on what they like–remember that what they post on social media might not be the same as what they are reporting on, but more on that later–and another story is the outlet’s focus.

For example, The Defiant is, like the name says it, very DeFi heavy. You aren’t going to pitch them on some obscure Bitcoin maxi topic.

Whereas Bitcoin Magazine is a Bitcoin-only magazine, so best to keep Vitalik’s posts on account abstraction out of their inboxes. Even if Buterin was one of the magazine’s first writers.

Now, let’s dive into the specific journalist you’re pitching.

You want to look at three things:

  • Previous articles
  • Areas of interest
  • Writing style

 

Then, align your pitch with their interests. 

Get them excited about what you’re pitching. How? Go deep down their rabbit hole. Look at the stories they often write about and the sources they are using. What are they liking on social media? Who have they written for before?

Pro-tip: read through their articles and see if any sources repeat. You are the average of the five people you hang around with most; so there’s likely a lot of cross-pollination in those spots.

Keep it personal

When was the last time you saw a generic email and got excited about it?

Even though the spray and pray approach sometimes works, rein it in. Remember, journalists are getting pummeled by PR pitches all day every day, so you have to stand out.

Show them you took the time not only to research their interests, but also to personalize their email.

 

Explain why you’re reaching out.

Sometimes it will be obvious–especially if you did your research right–but others you need to do a bit of groundwork.

When explaining: mention relevant recent coverage (extra points if you can tie it to a seemingly unrelated topic they recently wrote about), reference something in their bio or Twitter profile (this has surprisingly good results), or tie it to a question they made on social media or on a forum.

 

Offer a reason why the story would be a great fit for their audience.

Show you’ve done your research on who reads the publication (back to the DYOR point), watches the show, or listens to the podcast. 

 

Provide multiple sources for them to round out the story whenever possible.

Pro-tip: offer contrary sources. Give two sides to the same story, it will give the article much more depth, and provide a balanced angle.

Especially in a super self-serving industry like crypto, this goes a long way.

Oh, and don’t be afraid to try and make a personal relationship with the journalist. Ask them what they do in their own free time, what books they read that aren’t crypto related, or if they like to travel. 

Make your relationship feel as little transactional as possible.

 

Tailor your story’s angle

Learn about the publication’s focus:

  • If you’re pitching The Defiant, go DeFi or go with data. 
  • If you’re pitching Business Insider, go with a pitch deck. 
  • If you’re pitching NFT Gators, go with the hottest trends in NFTs and Web3.
  • If you’re pitching DL News, good luck, they have a strict anti-pitch policy.

 

Once you’ve gotten dozens of placements in a specific publication, you’ll have developed your spidey sense so well as to what they like that the journalist will feel like they pitched themselves.

By that point you’ll have built up enough rapport that journalists will come looking for you for sources. 

 

Give real exclusivity

People like to feel special, and that their publication is “exclusive.” 

Can you offer the reporter exclusivity? Do you have access to proprietary data? How about the first look at an exciting new product?  

Pro-tip: offer them access to the beta “insiders only” version.

 

Follow up with humor

We’re going to keep on banging this drum: journalists get pitched dozens of times a day.

The last thing they want is to get pestered by the same typical generic PR pitch they receive all day; stand out or you’ll get left out.  

Pro-tip: lead with some cheeky humor. 

“I know you’re drowning in the competition’s dry pitches, but I want to see if you’d had a chance at mine. You can see I bought a new moisturizer for mine.” 

Even if it doesn’t get your story published, it will put you in a good light with the journalist, because who doesn’t like to laugh?

Learn about hooks and headlines

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

Those are the words of legendary copywriter and marketer, David Ogilvy.

Yet, few people think twice about the headline. But never forget, you are competing for attention, and the only way to win that competition is by standing out. 

Headlines that hook are a game changer. Take the time to learn how they work, and how to use them.

Hooks are essentially the way you get a reader to click on your link. They have to draw a reader in, and make them want to read the first line. And then the first line needs to be a hook itself; so the reader goes to the second line.

And so on, until they’ve devoured your pitch. 

 

Read Writing That Works

For anybody that has to send a work email this is a must read.

Honestly, this book is one giant pro-tip. And those that leverage it are guaranteed to sharpen their communications skills. 

Every company in the world would be a better place if this was required reading before they sent their first email.

“Writing That Works” gives you the exact rundown on how to write the perfect email for a busy person. Whether that’s the journalist you are pitching or the client you need some extra information from. 

Here are a couple of useful tips, straight out of the book:

  • Write how you talk. Naturally.
  • Write for the eye as well as the mind. 
  • Short everything. Words, sentences, and paragraphs. 

 

It’s packed with tips and tricks. Actually, read it three times.

 

Stay ahead

Pitching journalists is a tricky game. But that doesn’t mean you can’t win, nor that there aren’t rules or tips to help you truly stand out.

A place like the crypto industry lets you have certain allowances–like using humor in your pitcher–so don’t be afraid to try them out. 

So mix and match these seven tips. Not only will they help you hit all your KPIs, but you’ll be sure to enjoy every day at your job much more. 

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