A project of the Afterschool Alliance

Sample Email Pitch Letter

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.

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 Email Pitch Letter (addressed to talk show producer):

October XX, 2020

[Name of producer]
[Radio Station]
[Snail Mail Address]

Dear [Mr./Ms. lastname],

At 3 p.m. on Thursday, October 22, students and families across the community will join in a virtual Lights On Afterschool event featuring Mayor Stephanie Millstone. This year marks the 21st annual Lights On Afterschool, and it arrives at a time when afterschool programs across the nation have stepped up to provide heroic service to students and families.

As you know, during normal times, afterschool programs provide students a safe place to enjoy creative learning opportunities designed to help them improve their grades and self-esteem. They’re still doing that during the pandemic, some virtually, some in person, some using hybrid models – in all cases, coordinating their schedules with local school systems. But more than that, programs have also helped provide meals to children and families during the pandemic and connected them with vital community services. Meeting these new challenges has drained many programs’ resources, and they need additional support.

Without doubt, these are unprecedented times and Lights On Afterschool participants here in [city/town] and around the country are gathering to celebrate the work programs are doing. I am writing to suggest that you consider having our program director, [name], as a guest to talk about the challenges afterschool programs are facing and the benefits they provide to the children, families and community as whole. Please email or call me if you would like additional information. Thank you.

Sincerely,

[Your name and daytime phone number]