5 successful feature story pitch examples (that had stellar results)

5 successful feature story pitch examples (that had stellar results)

Most media pitches are really bad. Let's make them better.

It's not an industry secret that journalists are flooded with terrible, poorly thought-out, unrelated, irrelevant media pitches.

We will discuss why so many media pitches miss the mark and what we can do about it. Plus, we will look at some examples of people who are doing this pitching thing right and getting excellent results.

 

Contents


 

Why most media pitches are bad

It's a bold claim to say that most media pitches are bad. Surely that can't be the case, right? According to Cision's 2021 State of the Media:

PR pros need to build highly targeted media lists. More than 1 in 4 journalists receive over 100 pitches per week with most ending up in the virtual trash due to irrelevance.

In the same report, surveyed journalists reported that fewer than 25% of pitches were actually relevant to their writing, topics they cover, publications they write for, and audiences they target.

Think about how bonkers that is and how endlessly frustrating it must be to not only have pressing deadlines, juggling tons of sources, working for multiple publications, and then have hundreds of people in your inbox each week demanding your time but not doing even the barest of minimum to research and pitch the journalists in the ways they want to be pitched.

 

Why do so many people go the lazy, shortcut route and bypass pitching journalists the right way? Well, because it takes time. And effort. And it's super frustrating to create a beautifully crafted, elegant (dare I say stunning?) pitch that gets lost in the weeds of a million low-effort pitches.

Pitching to journalists has become like online dating. It's a numbers game. Nobody wants to invest a ton of time and energy into the perfect online dating opener, put down a bunch of non-refundable wedding venue deposits, and sample dozens of cake flavors only to find out your future spouse is actually some online gambling chatbot (again). So everybody just throws out a bunch of generic, low-effort openers in hopes that the stars will align. This is a perfect analogy and I will not be convinced otherwise.

This anecdote is not based on personal experience nor is it a reflection of the writer's heartbreak.

While we cannot change the entire landscape of low-effort journalist pitches (or online dating), we can each do our part to pitch in the best way possible and develop great relationships with our media contacts.

 


How to pitch to journalists: a crash course

Step 1. Research your media contacts

Researching journalists is one of those things that sounds like a great idea, but who has the time? So instead, PR folks end up buying media lists or spamming completely irrelevant reporters. Many pitches are disregarded as entirely unrelated to their line of work, pitches go ignored, rinse and repeat.

Researching the media contacts and creating your own media list of well-curated, specific journalists is pure common sense. Why put all the work and effort into crafting this fantastic pitch just to have it get overlooked because you sent it to the wrong people?

 

Creating an active media list that consistently gets results will take time, effort, and energy. It will take engaging with people on Twitter, keeping up with their content, giving as much as you get, and providing value. But, it'll pay off at the end of the day when sources start coming to you for stories because they know you to be reliable and consistently deliver the magic. 🪄

👉 Check out these cheat codes for building a better media list

Step 2. Draft the most beautiful, personalized pitch

Similar to researching your media contacts, personalized pitches seem like a nice idea in theory, but this part ends up getting completely bypassed by the majority of people. Why? Because personalized pitches take forever. Like writing this article, coming up with unique and original copy is not for the faint-hearted.

 

It's much easier to mass-blast a cute little email to a bunch of people who definitely won't know you're spamming everybody with the same adorable pitch. However, what you save in time, you lose in making genuine connections with media contacts and journalists.

Every good pitch should:

  • Be very short. Nobody has time for your Tolstoy-esque three-page email pitch. Keep it minimal.
  • Briefly explain how you came across them/their body of work (if it's a cold pitch). You don't need to dramatically recount how their May 2019 article in PCMag on air fryers changed your life (unless it did), but you can say, "Hey! I've been following you on Twitter and your cats crack me up. Want to collab?"
  • Explain quickly how you plan to provide value for the journalist's readers. Not sure if your story will give value to their readership? Not sure who their readership is? Back to Step 1 because you have more research to do, pal!
  • Have a link to media assets and newsrooms. You don't want to flood the journalist with images, videos, or massively big files (lest your correspondence be immediately flagged as spam), but you do want to make sure they have easy-to-access links to high-quality visuals. A newsroom or press kit is perfect for this.

Step 3. Follow up on social

It's often nice to pop into a social media DM and let the journalists know that you sent them an email so they can look out for it. It shows that you are going the extra mile to connect with them and can put a face to your name. Be mindful that you're not badgering them because the line between "friendly and thorough" and "pestering and annoying" is very thin.

Inversely, some journalists hate this and will never respond to DMs. Check their bios or pinned messages if they have any indication of this anywhere.

If you're looking for more on how to pitch to the media, watch this whole PR Roundtable episode with two of our writer friends, Kelsey Ogletree and Holly Brockwell, who break down what journalists love (and hate) when being pitched. It's a great watch!

 


Successful media pitch examples

Okay, the reason you're here: the real-world pitch examples that had successful results. We asked some communications people to share their successful pitches with us so we can all learn from the experts about what works.

Example #1: Pitching to journalists

The pitch:

$500 into $10million in 3 years with serendipitous maternity leave side hustle!

What started out as dad Jake Munday looking to buy an LED neon sign for his son Jaggers nursery in 2018, is now a $10 million business!

This maternity leave side hustle that started from a home in Geelong, has certainly hit the big time!

The Award winning couple have provided signs for many prestigious events and awards including the Paris Hilton wedding, Elon Musk, Facebook HQ, The Grammy Awards and with a forecasted growth of 50+%, they are excited to see what 2022 has in store!

I have attached some images of Jake, Jess, the team, and some of the signs we created for the Paris Hilton wedding.

CJ

Clare Jones

Custom Neon

What it accomplished: Outreach Manager Clare Jones of Custom Neon was able to secure impressive media coverage (including The Daily Mail) thanks to this short, snappy, succinct pitch.

Why the pitch worked: First of all, if you can successfully name drop? Do it! The media love a recognizable name, and Clare brought all the superstars: Elon, Facebook, Paris! Make sure you can deliver on what you're promising, but a recognizable name or brand will almost always help your pitch.

Plus, she included a link to high-quality assets, which is fantastic. Their company is highly visual, so it makes sense that they would link some great images.

Lastly, there's a human element to the pitch. Everyone loves a side-hustle-to-riches story, and Clare successfully humanized the company. All companies want a feature in a publication. But making it an interesting story to tell is much harder. Clare did a great job at making this an interesting story that journalists could visualize connecting with their audiences.

👉 Watch our roundtable how to turn your news into a captivating story

 


Example #2: Pitching to publications

The pitch:

Hi there! First of all. I would like to thank the whole of the Black Ballad team for the magic that you continue to make happen through your great work! The pieces that you feature never cease to either inspire me or provoke thought. My recent favourites have been: "Unmarried & Unbothered: Black Women Who Prefer Autonomy Over Marriage" and "Adele's Teacher Has Me Thinking, How Do We Really Measure Influence?". Full disclosure, it was actually the first article mentioned that made me a Black Ballad member and, as someone who has also come to the decision to choose autonomy over marriage, I remember feeling truly seen from the first line ("Marriage never seemed like enough of a pay off for all the sacrifice it required"). As an avid writer myself, these articles (and many more) continue to inspire me and motivate me to pursue my mission and vision with authenticity and boldness.

With all of that being said, one of the things that I believe that we have in common is a passion for empowering women, especially through the lens and perspective of the black experience. As such, I'd like to share an idea that I think your audience might enjoy- "5 toxic cultural beliefs that are holding you back in business (and how to avoid them)"

Summary of article We often hear the phrase "shattering the glass ceiling" in terms of the invisible barrier that stops women progressing towards top positions in both the work and business sector. But what about the internal glass ceilings that we impose on ourselves? The limiting beliefs systems rooted in culture that have been passed down to us from generation to generation and now threaten to hold us back if we do not unlearn them? My article proposes to explore 5 common toxic cultural beliefs (listed below) and how we can overcome them according to a cognitive behaviour therapist (who I plan to interview along with other black business women to get a greater depth of perspective and expertise). These are: 1. Strong black woman syndrome (leading to not delegating) 2. Not trusting others (leading to not sharing good news, future plans or desires) 3. No new friends (leading to slow progress) 4. I must work twice as hard to be successful (leading to burn out) 5. False humility because confidence and ambition are seen as undesirable/unladylike to men (leading to self-sabotage)

ND

Nina Dafe

The Far Above Rubies Collection

What it accomplished: Nina Dafe, founder of The Far Above Rubies Collection, reached out to Black Ballad to write a piece for their publication. They liked her (and her work) so much that they have continued to feature her regularly.

Why the pitch worked: Nina started strong by explaining what the publication means to her and how certain published pieces specifically stood out to her. People love to hear that their work has inspired others.

Nina also included all the right information. Not only did she come up with an engaging topic that would be of interest to the specific publication (not just a generic, boring topic), but she also outlined precisely how she would write that article. This instilled confidence in the editorial team that she could develop a great idea and an equally quality execution.

This pitch made it clear that not only was Nina a fan of the publication, but she also had the savvy and writing skills to contribute to their brand meaningfully.

👉 Read more about crafting a stellar email pitch

 


Example #3: Pitching data to the media

The pitch:

You could make $3 million playing Fortnite... 25 Highest-Earning eGamers in the US

Hi [First name].

It may seem unfathomable for eGamers to make the multi-million dollar salaries that players in leagues like the NBA or NFL make, but they actually might not be far off in the years to come. Solitaired just released a study of the highest-earning eSports players and how much they've made in tournament wins. All three of the highest-earning players have made over $3 million dollars in tournament wins alone. Not to mention the #1 highest-earner, Kyle 'Bugha' Giersdorf made all $3.1 million in a single Fortnite tournament when he was only 16. What do you think about covering these findings in an upcoming story?

MM

Mercedes Martinez

Green Flag Digital

What it accomplished: Content marketing is an excellent strategy for building a brand. Mercedes Martinez, Content Marketing Specialist with Green Flag Digital, shared the results of a recently published study to get eyes on their research, and it garnered them some snazzy coverage.

Why the pitch worked: First of all, it's short and sweet. In fact, Mercedes shared that brevity is one of the keys to her pitching success.

Plus, that headline is fantastic. It makes you go "whaa...?!" and gets you eager to learn more, but it also substantiates the "wow" factor with facts.

👉 Check out this article on crafting a killer pitch headline

 


Example #4: Pitching to podcasts

The pitch:

Ellen, can I share Cubicle to CEO with my audience?

Hi Ellen (and Sabrina!),

Linda here, I’m a huge fan of Cubicle to CEO and just left your show a 5 star review on Apple - (it hasn’t shown up yet, but I’ve attached a screenshot of the contents!).

I especially enjoyed Episode 129 with Selena Goo, where you and she talked about building authentic relationships with the media (even if we’re introverted!) - brilliant insight, thanks for sharing!

I noticed that you haven’t had a guest on before” to talk about pursuing the entrepreneurial path as someone who is neurodivergent. I was in my mid twenties when I was diagnosed with ADHD. Before then, I spent most of my life thinking I’d never be able to balance the competing priorities necessary for something like entrepreneurship. It was only after learning more about my brain (and the fact that my neurodivergence can also be a strength) that I began my journey as both an artist, and an entrepreneur.

I think your listeners would really benefit from a peek into the business side of creativity, as well as how to overcome some of the business challenges that are particularly difficult for neurodivergent dreamers (like me!)

Here’s a sample of 3 questions I could answer during our interview:

1. Entrepreneurs are often told to “choose one thing” and scale it, before focusing on anything else…but are there benefits to pursuing two things at once (that outweigh this advice?

2. How do you balance pursuing artistic excellence, and business success?

3. What the top 3 productivity “hacks” that work particularly well for someone like you, with ADHD, when it comes too managing your own business and schedule?

I’m happy to ideate more questions with you to tailor our conversation to your audience’s interests and make your research process super easy!

I’d love the opportunity to serve your audience in this way and share your show with my community to introduce new loyal listeners to your podcast! If you decide I’m a good guest fit, I plan to promote the published episode to my audience of 14.8k across my instagram (13k followers), twitter (1,254 followers), and email list (563 subscribers).

Would you be interested in having me on your show?

Thank you for your consideration!

Linda Yi

What it accomplished: Artist and writer Linda Yi of Panda Cub Stories was featured on her favorite podcast, Cubicle to CEO, through her lovely pitch.

Why the pitch worked: Linda started her pitch by sharing how the podcast has positively impacted her and outlining how she has engaged with it. Reviews or social shares are always great if they are genuine and authentic.

The best part of this pitch is how Linda succinctly breaks down how her interview will connect with the podcast audience in a unique way. The media contacts don't want to scroll through ten pages of your biography to figure out how to sell your niche. Linda clearly outlines what differentiates her, and she does it well.

Plus, the mention of sharing it with her audiences goes back to our point about providing value. If you can show how you plan to amplify their content instead of only expecting them to showcase yours, that is the start of a great working relationship!

👉 Watch How to Pitch to Podcasts with podcast host Christina Nicholson

 


Example #5: Pitching to HARO

The pitch (template):

Hi {Name},

I run Rockstar Marketing, a digital marketing agency and below is my quote on {pitch}:

{Insert quote - usually 1-3 paragraphs}

If you found the information useful, you can give credit to: {My name}, CEO of {business URL} LinkedIn URL: {Insert URL} Headshot: {Insert URL}

P.s. happy to answer any more questions you may have!

All the best, Ravi

RD

Ravi Davda

Rockstar Marketing

What it accomplished: Ravi Davda and the Rockstar Marketing team are pros at using HARO (Help A Reporter Out) to connect with the media. They've established a great template that they've shared here.

Why the pitch worked: You might be thinking, "wasn't there a whole section about not using templates?" And the answer to that is yes. But also, no.

Cold pitching the same, generic content is a bad strategy. Creating a template that you can customize with fresh, relevant information in an easily-digestible way? That's a good strategy. Particularly when it comes to HARO, where journalists are looking for quotes and sources, not necessarily full story pitches.

👉 Read more about how to use HARO to connect with journalists

 


Conclusion

There's no perfect, exact secret formula for a successful media pitch. The key to a successful pitch is simply knowing who you are pitching to, speaking to how you can engage the audience and provide value, and then following up. That's it! It's more complicated than it sounds.

Thank you to all of the experts who shared their fantastic pitches with us. If you have a pitch that worked exceptionally well for you that you'd like to see included, reach out on Twitter!

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Katelynn Sortino

Katelynn Sortino

Storyteller, Prezly

Published May 2022