Pitch Perfect! Strategies for PR success from journalist Amy Cutmore

Honest Communications: PR, Communications and social media agency

We’re very fortunate to have relationships with some of the leading journalists in our sector, so last month we were able to call upon the amazing Amy Cutmore , a journalist with over 20 years of experience in the industry who has worked with titles such as The Telegraph, Woman & Home, Ideal Home and Saga Exceptional. During the session with us, Amy provided a valuable perspective on the ever-changing structure of editorial teams, the pipeline of articles from idea to publication, and some top tips for making a PR pitch stand out in a busy inbox.

Here are our top five takeaways from the session…

1. Utilise buying guides, trending topics and keyword research

Amy started off by discussing the dynamics of an editorial team and the feature commissioning processes. We explored how the editorial content pyramid approach for Digital PR differs from traditional PR, and the importance of strategically crafting articles to drive traffic and generate revenue through affiliate programmes.

We also explored the different roles within an editorial hierarchy and how pitches should differ to best fit their objectives and needs. For instance, staff writers focus more on creating content from current trends and hot topics whereas senior and digital editors spend more time looking at keyword research and SEO. Freelancers, like Amy, also play a big role in crafting eye-catching features and executing projects based on trends, keywords, and current news.

2. Being timely and seasonal

We also explored the editorial journey from concept to publication, recognising how the varying turnaround times are dictated by the nature of each piece of content. While some articles may be developed over a week or two, others, such as news and trending pieces, require writers (and PR people!) to jump on them quickly, sometimes within a matter of hours! At Honest, we prioritise sending over expert commentary, product suggestions and image requests quickly to help the journalists meet those tight deadlines. We’re no stranger to a 2pm deadline landing in our inbox at 10am!

Amy reiterated the importance of timeliness, especially in positioning content with seasonal trends. This perfectly aligns with our proactive approach, where we strategically support our pitches with seasonal interest to ensure the content is engaging and current. Expecting a cold snap or a scorching heatwave? We’re busy prepping advice on protecting plants and keeping lawns healthy. Searching for recommendations for Christmas, Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day presents? We’ve got a roundup of the best gift ideas!

3. Use creative angles and strong imagery

Now, the most exciting part – crafting compelling pitches! We all know that journalists receive hundreds, and dare we say thousands, of emails every single week. So how can we PR people make sure that Honest’s emails stand out among the sea of pitches and press releases? Amy imparted some invaluable advice on which pitches stand out best amidst the bustling inbox of a journalist. We were happy to hear that our use of trending topics, strong imagery and creative angles are ideal for making an impact and by having built strong relationships with journalists in the industry our client’s names are more likely to stand out! As expected, capturing a journalist’s attention from the get-go is crucial to effectively highlight client news, products, and stories.

4. Exclusivity and attention to detail matters

Unsurprisingly, exclusivity appeared as a key factor, with journalists prioritising fresh insights and exclusive quotes over recycled content. Amy’s stress on tailoring pitches to individual publication preferences supports our approach where we carefully refine our pitches to match each publication’s style and audience, increasing our chances of securing even more impactful coverage.

5. Striking the right balance of communication

Follow-up phone calls and emails used to be the PR norm back in the day, but times have changed, and we know that hassling journalists and editors is likely to have the opposite effect. Amy reiterated the importance of striking the right balance when it comes to follow ups. While a gentle nudge after a week may be called for, inundating journalists with persistent follow-ups risks veering into the realm of pestering.

And if you want to avoid winding up on a journalist’s PR pet peeves list, make sure to avoid expired WeTransfer image links!

How Honest can help you!

Our conversation with Amy provided a rare and unique insight into the other side of editorial content and gave us a different perspective into the way journalists and publications craft attention-grabbing articles. With thoughtful planning, attention to detail, and timely responses, we deliver impactful results for our clients. If you’re ready to experience the benefits of expert PR guidance, get in touch with our team today!