If you’ve been living under a rock the last couple of years, well, first off, we’re jealous. You probably have much more energy and patience for reading the news than the rest of us. But all that rock-living may make you unaware of this simple fact: the news is insane right now. So much happens every day that it’s challenging for PR pros to break through with legitimately interesting stuff about their clients. And for those clients whose news isn’t even that interesting? Fugetaboutit.
But there are some ways to make client pitches stand out.
—Make damn sure you’re pitching the right reporter. Are you certain that this reporter covers the beat most relevant to your client? If she’s a hard news reporter and your pitch is about a new beauty product, is she really the right one to pitch? (She could be, if your pitch is about your client’s commitment to nontoxic beauty and how the new bill up in the Statehouse addresses toxic ingredients. Pitches that can link fairly run-of-the-mill products to current events can be exciting to hard news reporters; you’ve just got to position them correctly.)
—Get your timing right. Before pitching, ask yourself: there a huge event—the Olympics are kicking off! The mayor is giving a press conference about his indiscretions! etc.— happening in your city right now? Is your pitch related to it? If not, hold off until there’s room in the news cycle for your story. You don’t want to let a good story go unnoticed simply because there’s yuge news happening at the moment.
—Offer an exclusive. Who is the most widely read reporter covering your beat in the market? Who has the most clout? That is the person to whom you offer an exclusive. Perhaps your client just announced a game-changing new service. Perhaps she’s launching a second brand or going public. If it’s big news, offer it up first as an exclusive to that aforementioned Big Dog reporter—and then do not offer it to anyone else until you’ve heard definitively from Big Dog that she is or is not interested.
—Consider a video pitch. Consider sending video pitches to media. It makes you seem more human, and helps a reporter put a face to a name. Just make sure you write out bullets of what info you need to cover, and feel free to re-record. (Even today, in the era of selfie sticks, it can be awkward to record selfie-style videos of yourself…and don’t even start with the “Is that how my voice sounds?” stuff. It is. You sound great.)
—Think beyond the product story. Say you’re promoting Sally’s Lemonade Stand. Sure, you could pitch reporters about Sally’s stand and its offerings. But unless Sally’s lemonade is made with unicorn tears, that angle is a dud. Producers and reporters probably aren’t going to cover that story unless there’s something legitimately extraordinary about Sally’s lemonade. But you can think beyond the product. How will a small shop like Sally’s handle the lemon crisis (a crisis I, your blogger, just invented) caused by a late freeze in the southern US? How has that freeze affected other crops or the availability of goods in your market? Yes, it’s a silly example, but it proves the point that thinking about the larger impact of a story—the potential people it could affect, or the way it could be a microcosm of a larger issue in your community—makes for a more compelling, and relatable, story to pitch to media.
What are your tips for getting pitches opened?
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