What’s in a pitch? 10 steps for effective pitching
10 October, 2017
What’s in a pitch? A lot.
Effective pitching can separate a good publicist from a great publicist. What separates the two? Well, the devil is in the details.
In 2007, I completed a public relations internship at a boutique agency, with a focus in beauty and lifestyle PR. Though, I didn’t get much hands on training as I’d hoped for, except minuscule list building assignments, putting together press kits, mailing lists, going on magazine runs, assisting with seating arrangements, and tagging and repackaging items for return, I did pick up a few tricks of the trade. Ironically, however, it wasn’t until after launching my own media outlet in 2008.
I began to get pitches from many PR agencies and I quickly learned how poorly many publicists were in how they pitched to the media. It wasn’t just poor execution; misspelled wording, uninviting headlines, but it was clear that some of the publicists and agencies weren’t doing enough research to get to know the publications they were pitching to. They didn’t know the writers and editors, the publication’s niche or core demographics.
As a full-time content marketer and part-time PR and marketing consultant, I’ve had the benefit of being on both sides of the trade; both pitching and being pitched to.
Here are ten things I’ve learned about effective pitching:
- Do your RESEARCH.
- Know the publication‘s niche, categories and sub-categories.
- Know the writers/editors. In fact, know them by name and what they write about.
- Know the publication’s demographics. What resonates with the audience and how will your client’s story, their products and/pr services resonate with the audience as well. This will better aide you in creating the right angle/story.
- It’s not about quantity it’s quality. Services like Cision are great for the quantity and access to contacts but you’ll be more inclined to mass-pitch instead of building one-on-one relationships. You’re likely not getting to know the publications, writers and editors. Pitching to five well targeted publications may get you better results than pitching to a random 500.
- Brevity: Just get to the point. Especially with headline titles. Think ‘how will this story be beneficial’ to the writer/publication/audience? Why will they care?
- It’s NOT about you. It’s also not about your client. Harsh but true. Again, why should anyone care? How will this story resonate with the audience? Is it newsworthy? Will it inspire, entertain, or teach us something?
- Extend an invitation, especially with local press contacts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received pitches and post-event recaps for local events etc. If the outlet is good enough to write about you/your client, they are good enough to be invited to whatever exclusive event/product review/launch etc.
- Mass-pitching, a no?. This tip is one I’ve learned the hard way myself. If at first you don’t succeed, it’s probably not best to pitch to another writer at the same outlet, especially in the day/week. Well, unless you initially contacted the wrong writer and you’d like to redeem yourself. This is exactly why proper research is essential. Journalists do talk to each other, so mass-pitching the same outlet can actually work against you. The contacts become about reach instead of, again, building a relationship with the writer/publication.
- Follow-up. Again, I can’t stress this enough, it’s about building relationships and continuing to nurture relationships with members of the media. Follow their work and engage with them, even when you don’t have a story to pitch. They’ll be more inclined to get to know you, work with you and write about your clients again in the future.
What are some of your own tips for effective pitching and getting the best results out of your PR strategy?