This past month has been very busy for SPARKER Strategy Group. In the last two weeks alone we booked more than $25K in PR and publicity in TV media alone. Yet many businesses and organizations have trouble getting media attention these days. The competition is tough and it can be difficult for even seasoned PR pros to remember what really gets a journalist’s attention today.
The answer however is still the same as it was years ago. With the digital age, some PR/publicity agents think that sending an email with a link to a Facebook page, or even just sending a couple of tweets constitutes a pitch. I guarantee the journalists or media people on the receiving end of those half-assed efforts are not interested, intrigued, nor amused.
If you actually want to score some terrific media coverage (print, TV, radio) here are 5 quick tips to help your next pitch. Most companies hire PR experts to do their pitching for them. It’s hard to toot one’s own horn. It can be awkward and clumsy. But if you’re in a pinch or just starting out the pointers below share how anyone can pitch like a pro.
- Think Like a Journalist
This means think, “Why should anyone else care?” Yes, we know you think your story is unique/fabulous/groundbreaking. Here’s a hint: unless you’re curing cancer, it’s not. Instead focus on what angle of your story will make the journalist look a genius when he presents it to his/her editor. Think about what would make a reader or viewer find this story SO compelling they have to know more and/or share this information with others. That answer becomes the focus of your pitch.
- Know Your Journalist
Don’t be so lazy. Do some homework. What has s/he written lately? Does your story tie into a topic s/he recently covered and shed some new light on it? Do some digging. What are his/her passions? What type of story does s/he seem to cover most often? If you have an existing relationship with a journalist but your particular story doesn’t fall in her/his wheelhouse this time around, ask him/her to recommend a journalist colleague who may be a better fit for your story. A seasoned journalist will no doubt appreciate your respect of their time, their areas of expertise, and the professional handling of your relationship.
- It’s Always About the Angle
Journalists don’t really care about regurgitating how wonderful you think you are. What they are interested in are: conflicts (was your funding recently cut and you desperately need new revenue sources or donors to continue operations?); competitive advantages (what are you doing that snatched market share from a competitor or created a product where none existed before?); and common interest stories (how does your story weave together a community toward a common goal or experience?). If you can present your pitch from one of these angles and answer the relevant questions (who, what, when, where, why, and how) you’re more likely to get a journalist’s attention and keep it.
- Don’t Take ‘No’ for an Answer.
Don’t make it easy to say ‘No’. If you leave a voicemail message and have to call back just to complete your pitch, you’ve made it really easy to hit the ‘delete’ key and move on. If you sent an email with an attachment (attachments can be troublesome to open. Always put the relevant content right in the body of the email) or wrote such long email there would be more scrolling than reading, you’ve made it really easy to say ‘No’. Instead, consider yourself a valuable resource with facts, tips, research, and spokespeople on-call ready to help the journalist execute.
- Be Professional.
I can’t believe I have to add this one, but trust me, I see horrible pitches all the time. They are often rife with spelling errors, offer no attempt at personalization, or even worse, the person pitching never follows up with the journalist. Many missed opportunities arise from these types of missteps. Please proofread, don’t just spell check. And please follow-up with the journalist to inquire a) if they received your pitch; b) how you may help with any questions; and c) provide your contact information and/or the contact information of any spokespeople to make it simple to reach out, clarify any questions, or offer commentary.
Last but not least, please say “Thank you.” Journalists and editors work hard at cranking out interesting, compelling stories all day long. If one chose to spend time learning more about how you do what you do, at least be polite enough to acknowledge their effort with a kind email, voicemail, or handwritten note.
What does a winning pitch look like in your opinion? What would you add to these tips?