When it comes to media pitching, there are probably 1,989 tips we could give to help you reach your goal.
Today, we are going to give you the 5 tips that will help you in breaking though the clutter of all those pitches found in the media’s inbox and securing the publicity your client desires.
Hooking a journalist is only half of the task. You must also deliver.
Today we use a bit of help from America’s sweetheart, Taylor Swift.
We all want our products on the Today Show, Good Morning America, People Magazine, and the New York Times. But companies pitching products and services have to take an honest look at the pitch.
You have to ask yourself, “Is this product/story big enough for the media that I’m pitching?”
If you tell your story right, you can land on the center stage of the biggest media outlets.
But you have to start small. Garner a groundswell of support, and the pick up will come with it.
Think of it as a pyramid.
Too many people want to be at the top immediately. They have the mindset of “if we land on this big media target, everyone will hear about it.”
But turning your pitch into a viral sensation starts at the bottom.
By hitting the smaller sources and sites, you have a better chance of your story being poached by the aggregators out there.
Think of Buzzfeed.
Their editors and users aren’t grabbing content from the Today Show, unless there is commentary focusing on the subcontext.
Sad but true, the story of the boy who won the academic decathlon isn’t going to be a big viral story. But if he’s picking his nose and eating it while Matt Lauer interviews him, you better believe that video is going viral.
Those Buzzfeed editors and users are miners, they find gold in the most unlikely of places. They have sharp and focused axes to dig deep into the Reddits and youTubes of the world to find the original content.
It’s their spin on your story that can help launch it into viral stardom.
If your stuff is good, have the confidence to get it out there in small doses. Aim for those nooks and crannies where the hot content curators are searching.
Accomplishing that dream of mass exposure happens when you build those content building blocks. Don’t aim too high when pitching out your product or service unless you have a well-established track record of those placements.
How many times have you taken that call from a telemarketer and it sounds like this?
I think this is a funny and clever ad because they are mocking the fast-talking style of ads made famous in the 70s and 80s.
I can tell you that journalists HATE when someone calls them and unleashes the super-fast; I’m not going to take another breath until you say yes, pitch.
Chances are you don’t like receiving these calls either.
DON’T ACT LIKE A TELEMARKETER!
You didn’t spend hours, days, and weeks carefully drafting your pitch, struggling over word selection, and running through a huge approval process to have it lumped in with spam.
Treat the phone call you make (which will likely go to voice mail) to the journalist a very concise and polite one.
Try something like this: Hi. My name is _____, and I represent ____. I notice you’ve been focusing your coverage on ______. I think I have an excellent story for you.
Finish that phone call with a pitch that lasts three or four sentences. You are fighting that journalist from hitting the delete message button. So make it count.
This would seem like standard information, but I can’t tell you how many voice mails I got where the phone number or email was inaudible.
Speak clearly, be concise, and convey the best information possible, otherwise someone may tell you, “Begin again.”
That’s if they give you a second chance.
Everything Has Changed
If these three words had a sound associated with them, think of nails on a chalkboard. You know that sitcom pause that’s accompanied by the record-stopping squelch?
If there’s one thing the media remarks after a long day of chasing stories, it is “Couldn’t this have been easier?”
Countless times I sent out a reporter with a specific person to be interviewed, on a specific story, at a specific place, at a specific time.
Here’s an example of this: I send the reporter to a company’s headquarters in a Burbank, to speak with the PR person about a certain toy that is THE must-have toy of the holidays. The interview is set for 6pm.
But then that dreaded phone call or email/text blast (coward!) comes in.
The interview has moved to Pasadena, at the CEOs home, and he really wants to crow bar in a toy that he’s manufacturing for next year. He will be available at 7:30pm.
This can really kill a story.
When editors and reporters select stories for coverage, they immediately begin to fantasize about the visuals and information they will collect to put together a great piece.
In this example, they envision the assembly line of widgets, the cases of widgets in the warehouse, and the widgets everywhere. They imagine great footage of conveyor belts moving, forklifts loading trucks, and trucks driving off with these widgets.
They now are going to get a talking head in a suit, holding one or two widgets, interviewed in his living room.
Don’t get me wrong. There are colorful business leaders and CEOs out there that the media would drool over, if they had a chance to interview them.
But we live in a visual-driven world now. Whether this is TV, online video, or photographs for print and social media, the imagery tells the story.
Make sure when you pitch a story that the finished product resembles what you promised in the first place.
The media understands that things change. They more than likely will be the ones who need to change details of a story.
But they expect flexibility from you. You’re at their mercy for coverage and publicity for your product and services.
Sometimes this means you may have to play hardball with your boss to make sure that the media outlet will still be interested.
If things must change, convey those changes quickly, and make auxiliary accommodations to make sure that the story exceeds expectations.
We are Never Getting Back Together
Break-ups can be messy.
For public relations professionals, amateurs and marketers, certain things can derail your career if you can’t develop and keep your relationships with the media.
Here’s a list of a few things to avoid getting on the wrong side of the media:
- Pitching to the wrong person
- Pitching a subject that the intended target never covers
- Not answering return calls/emails
- Not delivering what you promised
- Disrespectful behavior
- Inconsiderate of their time
This list could go on and on, but you get the picture.
The media knows it can reach out to any restaurant for holiday recipes, event catering stories, fall cocktail creations etc.
If you blow it with the media, your restaurant isn’t going to get the coverage it seeks. More importantly the media could take your idea to your competitor.
Too many times, PR people, even the pros, walk in with an attitude like they are doing the media a favor for participating in that story.
About 99% of the time that just isn’t the case.
Now if you represent Justin Bieber, the President of the United States, a hard-to-get CEO, or a regular Joe that’s an incredible exclusive, then you hold the power.
Otherwise, keep your ego in check, and realize that the media doesn’t have to publicize your product, service, or person.
Just because the media interviewed your subject, that doesn’t guarantee that the story will go live at any point.
I’ve experienced situations where someone has been rude to a producer, reporter, or editor after they had wrapped on the story. The story never made it to air.
Stay courteous and helpful the entire time you work with the media, and ensure that your clients do the same thing. The CEO of the company you represent may think he’s a real big shot. In the world of widgets, he may be. But with the media, he’s most likely a drop in the ocean of business people.
“…And I’ll write your name.”
Public relations and media pitching is fun. It’s an awesome experience to see the process out from developing a media press release, and then fine-tuning your elevator pitch for phone calls, and quick face-to-face meetings.
Your press release is blank space, and if a journalist agrees to take your story, they are working with a blank space too.
Bloggers have the most flexibility. They don’t answer to editors. They crave great visuals, great quotes, and of course free stuff!
Realize how wide the scope is, and how limitless the possibilities are when pitching people. Don’t be afraid to try something exciting to promote your client.
Have several versions ready for the same pitch, so if print takes the story one way, you can tweak it for TV, and then for the web.
Bloggers like individuality. They don’t want the same four photos of your product as the other bloggers in their niche.
If you’re pitching pizza for an Italian restaurant, don’t send bloggers the same four professional photos of pizza.
Deliver them several pizzas, take them into the kitchen to make pizza, let them get authentic photos of people (usually themselves) eating slice after slice. Go crazy, and make something unique and extraordinary for them.
Think Foodbeast and how nearly every food brand wants an in with the Franken-food giants!
Many small businesses and new public relations people miss the concept that PR is a blank space. Sure there is a certain pitch approved within the company structure that you follow, but it doesn’t mean you can’t deviate or spice it up.
Be daring and bold promoting your product. You will earn success and you will build relationships with the media as a professional that is reliable, pleasant and easy to work with.
Believe it or not, you could have the best product on the planet, but if you’re rude, unprofessional or sloppy, you may not get the exposure you expect.
That’s the inside pitch.
Need Content marketing, public relations, or social media help for your client, product, and service? Inside Pitch can help generate buzz for your business. We are a brand boombox working with communities to build your reputation and exposure. Visit our contact section and talk to us about your business.
Have a comment? Reach out to us on Twitter, username @JS_InsidePitch, or email at Jeff (at) Insidepitch (dot) com and share your ideas and strategies, as well as ask any questions you have about making the most of your media pitch.
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