Four golden rules to pitch perfect
Getting the attention of a journalist nowadays can feel like trying to sway a goldfish into playing the staring game: it’s a once-in-blue-moon opportunity. Rest assured, we have put together four of our best tips to get the attention you deserve.
When I first started working in a PR agency four years ago, I went through a bumpy ride trying to get articles placed in the media or even to trying to get a journalist to listen to me for more than 15 seconds over the phone… Over time, I realized that when it comes to media pitching, it all breaks down to ‘how’ and not ‘what’ you pitch is what really matters.
Below are four “pitching basics” that every PR professional need to keep in mind before picking up the phone and speaking to a journalist:
1. Get to the point quickly: The last thing a journalist needs in the morning is someone reciting a podcast pitch about their client. Just like a staged business pitch, you need to narrate what you’re are selling in less than 30 seconds using captivating buzzwords, story angle and talking points. We all know that journalists have some of the busiest schedules in the world, receiving hundreds of press releases and media pitches on a daily basis whilst racing against the clock to deliver their deadlines.
2. Make your emails short and sweet: Relative to phone pitches, your email pitch should always aim to capture the interest of the journalist within the first few lines. Aim to make your pitch no longer than nine lines – otherwise you will increase your chances of losing the journalists’ interest! Moreover, when you write a pitch, make sure it’s as short, concise and appealing as possible. Use captivating email titles, though-provoking talking points and a ‘leverage point’ (exclusive interview, key spokesperson, product trial, etc.).
3. Drop the bait where the fish is swimming: When it comes to mining for gold in a gold mine, it makes good sense to head towards an untouched piece of land if you want to hit the lottery! However, in the PR world, you need to follow the footsteps of the herd to get their attention! Let’s say you are pitching for a medical tech client about a cutting-edge machinery they’re introducing to hospitals. For this, try hooking your client’s story (example, first-of-its-kind fully automated surgical robot) to a ‘medical tourism’ angle to get the journalists intrigued, as opposed to just plainly saying ‘it’s a new surgical product for hospitals’.
4. Finally, know who you’re talking to: The worst thing you can do is speak to a sports editor when you’re trying to pitch a tech or b2b client! As a PR professional, it is crucial that you play your cards right. The more specific you get about what the journalist likes to cover, the higher your chances will be in turning your pitch into a published story. Furthermore, building a relationship with that journalist overtime will make them ‘go to you’ rather than the other way around.
However, it’s important to realize that you require the merit of time, trust and relationship with journalists to “pitch perfect”. Without these relationships, your pitches will go nowhere.