Despite their similarities, a media pitch and a press release are two very different components of your press strategy. Although most people think of press releases as the bread and butter of securing media coverage in a public relations campaign, the reality is that a lot of story ideas simply aren’t worthy of a full release, and a pitch is a much better option. So, what’s the difference between a pitch and a press release? Watch the video below and keep reading for more details!
A Pitch Letter is Like a Cover Letter in Your Press Strategy
A few years ago, the Bad Pitch Blog made the analogy that a pitch letter is to a press release as a cover letter is to a resume. The post stated:
“A press release is not a pitch. Would you send a resume with no cover letter to a prospective employer?
In both instances, the letter provides context. You should pull out the value your release or resume offers that specific media outlet/editor and company/HR contact, respectively.
No one has the time to digest an entire news release or an entire resume to see why/how it applies to them. And the more I see just press releases being sent to me, without even so much as a salutation, the more I realize this is probably the reason so many hold such (deep) hatred for the news release format.”
While the analogy isn’t perfect, it makes it easier to figure out how to think of the pitch-writing part of your press strategy. Like a cover letter, there are a few key points to hit:
- What/who the product/person is
- Why the person receiving this should care
- Where to get more information
The analogy falls apart a bit because, unlike a cover letter and resume, sending a pitch letter without a press release is perfectly fine. You don’t need to bombard the press with information all at once. Send a quick note to let them know what you’re pitching, why they should care and where to get more information. If they want a formal release or have specific questions, they’ll let you know.
What is a Pitch Letter?
Pitch letters are often the core of a press strategy. They’re used to suggest a story idea to individual journalists via email. It gives the reporter an idea for a story that they could write. If the journalist likes the idea and their editors approve, then they write a story for their media outlet based on your suggestion.
Pitches tend to be shorter and more informal than press releases. The more personalized you make it the better – this shows the reporter that you’ve taken enough interest in them to get their name right, mention a past article, etc.
What is a Press Release?
A press release is generally longer than a pitch and provides details of something newsworthy. Newsworthy is key here. You can write a pitch about a fantastic line of makeup, but unless the makeup is made by a major brand and has a phenomenal feature (e.g. is made entirely from recycled plastic) it just isn’t worthy of a full release.
Press releases are generally distributed much more widely. They’re usually sent to reporters and newsrooms, in addition to being posted on your site. A nice benefit to posting them on aggregating sites is they can usually help improve your SEO, too.
Which is Better for Your Press Strategy?
A pitch tends to be more effective – especially when your goal is securing editorial media coverage, although press releases do have their time and place in your press strategy. Yes, media pitches take more time and effort, but almost all of the coverage we secure for Three Girls and our clients is in response to these letters.
How Do I Write a Pitch?
Here are five posts that will help:
- Successful Media Pitching: The Complete Guide
- Pitch Perfect: The Ultimate Guide to Press Pitching
- 10 Media Pitching Mistakes and Their Simple Fixes
- A Guide To The Media Pitch From A Former Member Of The Media
- Free Guide: What is a Press Release, Media Pitch & More?
Of course, be sure to contact us if you have questions or would like a complimentary consultation to discuss specific ways we can help create and manage your business’ press strategy!
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