Tips on writing pitch letters

Craft a pitch that will grab reporters' attention

Pitch letters are personalized letters to reporters or talk show producers urging them to cover a particular topic or to book a particular guest. Pitch letters can also ask columnists or newspaper reporters to write about a particular issue. View a sample pitch letter.

Some tips about pitch letters:

  • Address your letter to the producer or reporter you hope to interest.
     
  • Producers are looking for interesting guests to talk about interesting subjects. Communicate that what you are proposing will make for a strong, lively broadcast.
     
  • Don't speak in moral imperatives. Never tell them they "must" or "should" book a particular guest or write a particular story. Tell them instead about an opportunity to book a guest who can talk about an issue of interest to the community, or to write a news story on an issue of great interest.
     
  • Reporters and radio talk show producers closely follow the headlines, both local and national. The ideal time for a pitch request is the day that the local newspaper has a major story on a given subject, or the day USA Today or the New York Times carries such a story. If an opportunity presents itself in the form of a story in the paper, send a pitch request that day. Another opportune time to pitch your afterschool story is when local media are covering education news anyway. You may try sending a pitch letter offering your afterschool program as a unique twist on back-to-school stories (usually late August or early September) or as a local illustration of a national news-making event (for example, when Congress passes a bill that affects the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative).

 

Sample Pitch Letter (addressed to talk show producer): 

May 25, 2015

Rick Bird
WEBN-FM
1111 St. Gregory Street
Rivertowne, OH 45202

Dear Mr. Bird,

At 3 p.m. on September 5, Mayor Stephanie Millstone will officially open the Just For Kids afterschool program at Stevens Middle School, by "turning on the lights for afterschool." It is the tenth afterschool site to be opened in the past two years as part of Rivertowne Student Success program, a collaborative effort of the Mayor's office and the Rivertowne School District, with the goal of making afterschool programs available to every public elementary and middle school student in the city.

Communities across the nation are adopting afterschool programs to provide students with a safe place to enjoy creative learning opportunities designed to help them improve their grades and self-esteem. In two-thirds of U.S. households with married couples and children under age 18, both parents work outside the home. More than 28 million school-age children have either their only parent or both parents working outside the home. Some 11.3 million "latchkey children" go home alone after school each day.

Begun just two years ago, Rivertowne Student Success afterschool programs have already proven to be an asset to the community. Nearly 2,000 students are enrolled in the program. The nine other participating schools offering afterschool programs have seen a noticeable improvement in the students grades, fewer disciplinary problems and higher attendance rates. The Rivertowne police department reports there has been a lower rate of juvenile violence between the hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. since the Student Success program began.

Jennifer Greene, Director of Rivertowne Student Success, has overseen the development and establishment of each of the afterschool programs. Ms. Greene is a former teacher and recognized the need for afterschool programs, as she and her husband have three daughters.

I am writing to ask you to consider having Jennifer Greene as a guest on your program to talk about the need for afterschool programs and the benefits they provide to the children, families and community as whole. Please call me if you would like additional information. Thank you.

Sincerely,


Jill Smith
(513) 555-1234