Pitch! Funny that word: pitch. It embodies what I do. I’m not just “throwing it out there,” I’m aiming for awesome coverage, a home run! While I was always the last one picked for teams in gym class, the PR pitch is one I can do.
Recently I sat in on a conference call moderated by the PR guru Peter Shankman himself. He invited reporters from top publications like The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Crain’s to ask them about pitching preferences and what catches their attention. Cha ching! Goldmine! (No, this had nothing to with my crush on Peter Shankman; I was genuinely interested in stepping up my pitching game.)
Anyway, I took away five lessons from this conference call:
1. Not knowing a reporter and what they write about- Avoid this PR faux pas at any cost. Pitching blindly, especially to top level journalists is insulting to them. Not to mention it could ruin your chances of getting any coverage with them in the future.
2. Not identifying a news peg immediately- These guys want to know “why now?” Is it part of a broader trend? Is it happening in the news? Tell them why they should care or you will probably strike out.
3. Writing a book instead of a hook- Journalists generally don’t have a ton of time to stop and read a long email pitch. Craft one that identifies the news hook right away; and only say it’s exclusive if it really is. Remember…bullet points are your friend and don’t exceed three paragraphs. They want the pitch you would tell your friends over some beers.
4. Entitling an email- “quick question”- it’s hard to get a reporter to respond to a pitch… believe me I know. It can be tempting to do this, but the truth is-they know you‘re just trying to pitch them. Be upfront and give it to them straight. Ask them what they are working on and if you can be of any assistance.
5. Not following up- While most prefer email nowadays, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. A good motto I like to follow: There is always someone more annoying than you.
So much more was discussed in the conference call that was helpful to me, so I hope you can use this too. You’re welcome and happy pitching!