Working as a publicist, marketing expert, PR pro, etc., no matter what I’m called can be stressful. The highs and lows and ups and downs can be better than most roller coaster rides. Some days you send a pitch and immediately get responses (and great ones at that!) and some days you send an equally good pitch and you can hear a pin drop. After doing this for the past 20 plus years, I’ve gotten used to it, but along the way I also learned some tricks on how to have the least amount of pitches that don’t work out.
First what exactly is a pitch? It can be a number of things, but my best successes comes from sending out expert articles and then writing an introduction (the pitch) on why the article is newsworthy and also why the expert is the one to share this information. You can bullet point the main points from the article in the pitch. Then you send this pitch to the right targeted media contacts, ( I use Cision to get these) and hopefully the result is getting you and your clients in major media or the publications they want.
Here are some additional tips to pitching the media:
Learn What Works – When you don’t receive a response to a good pitch, take the time to figure out why. Was it not timely? Was it not on a good topic? Was the information not unique enough and too mainstream and said before? What can you do better for more success next time? Note sometimes it just boils down to nothing you did, it just didn’t work. The good news though is that rarely do you get two in a row that don’t work.
On the same token, when a pitch gets awesome results, do the same thing. What contributed to its success? Why do you think major media picked it up? What can you continue to do to see these results more often? This always leads to better media coverage in the future.
Research topics – Honestly this seems so basic but you truly have no idea how important it is. It’s not just about the latest and greatest articles and advice out there – it’s about why it matters. It’s critical to research topics of interest and find the ones that are most newsworthy, on topic, game-changing, time-sensitive, and something you or your clients are experts on. The easiest way to do this is to just do internet searches on topics of interest you feel would be good and then type in big publications (such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc., etc.) This allows you to see headline topics and with that information you can dig deeper. Now if a publication just ran an article, it’s doubtful they will do another so soon. However, this can show you that there is an interest on it and also you can target other publications on those topics. Also, you might discover that publications write frequently on similar topics so that opens up doors for you as well.
Relationship building – Now this isn’t only building relationships with the media. It’s just as important to build relationships with your clients. Know their voice, their strengths, their subject in and out, etc. Many of my clients have been with me for years. Because of that, I honestly can say I know them well and know what would work and what wouldn’t. Of course, there are those times it might not. But in general it works that way. So when hiring a PR pro, be sure that you want to take the long haul with them. Sending out one or two pitches isn’t going to get the traction you need to get your name and brand out there.
Use a Similar Format Each Time – I found a format that works and I like to keep that same consistent format. Why? Because I believe when someone receives my pitches they know what to expect. Quality articles from experts. And the way I set it up, makes it easy to review. My pitch usually consists of an opening paragraph discussing the topic and then the mention that we are including an article by the expert on that topic below. Then I break down into bullet points key points from the article. (Normally my articles consist of top tips that can be easily condensed into individual paragraphs. This article is an example.) Next comes a paragraph similar to a bio stating the expert’s qualifications as well as where the expert has been featured, which I continually update. Follow this up with a closing paragraph inviting them to run this article or contact us for an interview or additional articles and then the closing. Easy breezy!
In the past few months, my pitches have resulted in several big wins including Fast Company, Forbes, CNN, Social Media Today, Inc., Young Entrepreneur, New York Post, PR Daily, Site Pro News, CEO Mom Magazine, and many others. I believe my success is attributed to all the above, but most importantly being the kind of publicist they like to work with. When media emails for additional information, I get back to them professionally and promptly with everything they need. Plus, I make it personable so it doesn’t feel just like another transaction, but more of a great connection.
Pitching the media and doing PR can seem overwhelming. But hopefully these tips help. Also, if you need someone to do it for you, that’s exactly what PR Pros do day in and day out. Why not let them do it for you.