I recently listened in on a webinar hosted by Michael Smart, an independent communications trainer. Michael works with PR professionals to help them land media coverage. Here are his tips and tricks for successfully pitching the media.
1) Frame Boring Content
Chances are your clients aren’t going to have a new product or “earth- shattering news,” every month, but you’re still going to be expected to get them media coverage. This is where framing comes in. You make the clients’ “boring” coverage interesting and relevant. One way to do that is to exploit pop culture. Even if your clients are B2B you can still draw parallels between what their business is doing and what is relevant in pop culture. Another way to frame content is simply to change the format. Think about what format works best for page views. Generally these are articles that incorporate lists, photos or GIFs. Tip: When creating your content try to get a link back to your client’s homepage. This is the best way to get SEO from your site.
2) Apply the 80/20 Principle to Your Media List
One of the biggest hurdles PR professionals face is time. We feel like we don’t have enough time to customize our pitches for each editor in our media list. Michael recommends spending 80 percent of your time pitching the top 20 percent of your media list. Focus most of your time on the 5-10 absolutely crucial influencers. Make sure your pitches are customized to meet the needs of the editor and publication. For the next 30 percent, do your best to briefly customize your pitches. You can send the same pitch to the last 50 percent of editors. You might ask yourself, “How do I know who the top 20 percent are?” All media relations should drive revenue and drive valuation. When determining who the top 20 percent are, think about which publications will have the biggest influence on driving revenue and valuation. Those publications are your top 20 percent.
3) Specific Formulas to Pitch Your Email
Once you have identified your 20 percent it’s time to do your homework. Be sure to reference the editor’s earlier work. Make sure to be as specific as possible. You want to let the editor know what you’ve actually read his or her past articles. Then tie in how your pitch relates. When tailoring your pitch makes sure it is short, specific and sincere. Even if the editor comes back with a “no,” showing editors you’ve done your research will help put you on their radar.
After your top 20 percent start using your database for the next 30 percent. Open with, “I know you cover…” Still try to be specific though. For example, if you are tying to pitch a tech story don’t simply say, “I know you cover tech.” Say something more specific like, “I know you cover start-up tech companies is San Francisco.” For the last 50 percent you can make the pitch very broad depending on the amount of time you have.
Tip: Snail mail editors’ pitches, content or products to get their attention and then follow up with an email. Also, don’t pitch via Twitter. Use Twitter as a way to build a relationship with editors. If they do happen to follow you back you may consider pitching them through direct message, but pitching on Twitter is too public. Many editors don’t want to pitches to be seen by competing publications.