The Perfect Pitch
By Jim Young / Contributor, Jody Privette Young
Whether you are a seasoned PR pro charged with landing earned editorial coverage for your client or a CEO of a startup or a Fortune 500 company, the ability to work and navigate effectively in an ever-changing media landscape is paramount to the overall success and profitability of your brand.
It’s understood editorial fairness, recognition and inclusion in stories relevant to your business (earned media) maximizes positive coverage in the mass media without having to pay for it directly (owned media). Is there anything more satisfying than developing a relationship with a reporter who is agreeable to listening to your pitch then seeing that story idea come to fruition, much to the delight of your client or CEO?
Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Obtaining coverage is not easy, given the competition and limited space in today’s media environment. Bottom line is media outlets exist to inform and entertain by running relevant stories which will help increase circulation. All media outlets have their own interests and biases and the ability to understand the complicated landscape is paramount to strategic and ultimately successful media placement.
Here are some tips from PR-Zone to revitalize your media relations that will ensure you regularly hit home runs with the press.
At PR-Zone, we value relationships we cultivate with reporters. We take the “relations” part of the business seriously. It’s a personalized approach, but it is also not about “who you know” as much as it is about providing the best editorial service we can provide. We take the time to get to know the reporters, and to understand their editorial needs and that of their readers or viewers. Reporters are more likely to respond to e-mails from names they recognize from a professional who knows the publication for which the reporter writes. Comment on their articles, follow them on social media and share their content. Get on their radar. Find a reason to call or e-mail a reporter when you aren’t trying to bend their ear about a product and you’ll be amazed how receptive they will be when you come knocking with the goods. Connect, connect, connect. And don’t forget to drop a reporter a thank you note after the story runs, when that’s appropriate, or a note about the interesting angle or quote the reporter included that caught your eye
Use a Targeted Approach
Do not spray and pray. All publicity is good publicity, right? Wrong. What’s the point of editorial coverage on your product, company or organization in a publication whose readership could care less? Granted, any credible reporter will quickly shutdown a PR pro’s pitch if he or she is barking up the wrong tree and shame on us if we can’t exercise proper discernment. Your reputation can be shot with one misplaced phone call or e-mail. While certain coverage might boost PR bragging rights and look good in the monthly report, misplaced coverage can be detrimental to a company whose product is not publicly traded, isn’t in need of funding and anywhere near ready for mass market distribution. Reputations of companies and the credibility of the CEO can come into question with a misplaced story. A pitch that is targeted and timely is the best one, even if the reporter might foul a few off before he gets the one he wants to hit.
Bloggers Are Important
When strategizing over which media outlets to target with a pitch, usually traditional media come first to mind, and that’s perfectly understandable. Let’s face it, the lines between traditional media and other news outlets is becoming more muddied every day. Bloggers are often more receptive in taking a pitch and have more creative license when it comes to reviewing your product. Plus, bloggers need fresh content. Never underestimate the importance of the comment box at the end of the blog. Often, words by a reader who doesn’t have a horse in the race can be as influential as the blog itself.
Publicize Beyond the Press Release
Yes, we take pride in writing a detailed press release with a catchy lead, interesting content and an insightful quote from the CEO. Hit send and wait for the calls to come in from reporters falling all over themselves to tell your story? Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. Press releases tell only part of your brand’s story and are usually used for background purposes, rather than an effective introduction to the big news. You’ll find you get much better results if you sell the narrative in a pitch letter to a reporter of editor, or yes – even in a phone call. As succinctly as possible, convey the 3-5 major selling points and why your story sets itself apart from the 50-100 other pitches sitting in that reporter’s in-box. It’s important to keep in mind your story angle must offer the reporter value in driving eyeballs to their story. Keep it short, hook ‘em early and read it back as if you were the reporter receiving it. And by all means include a link or an attachment to that beautiful press release you spent hours writing, as well as a catchy infographic or photograph.
E-mail multiple people in the same company or competitors. They talk, you know. An exclusive is an exclusive so don’t fish in multiple ponds. Give the reporter a reasonable amount of time to respond to your pitch and if he/she can’t commit, move on. Don’t spam! Mass blasts to thousands of reporters will certainly be ignored.
Deliver the Goods
Your pitch has hit pay dirt and the reporter is ready go, starting with that 1-on-1 interview you promised with the CEO. What? He’s not available until next week when he returns from the stakeholders meeting in the Bahamas? Unacceptable. Make sure you let your client know they need to be accessible when you strike gold. Service, service, service. Reporters are your customers and appreciate cheerful, speedy and reliable service.
A week has passed since the story you worked so hard in placing found its mark. You e-mailed the CEO the link and received huzzahs all around from the executive team. You have one more job to do – run the analytics breaking down traffic, click throughs, shares, best comments, etc. surrounding the story. A sure eye-opener is to compare the length of the story to the cost of an ad placement of the same space.
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