Pitching the Press – Make Them Feel Special
May 3, 2016
Everyone likes to feel special. Members of the media are no different. Don’t sabotage your chances for earned media coverage by sticking to old school methods. It used to be standard practice to send out generic news releases or call news conferences at the drop of a hat. A scoop was rare. Everyone got the same information on the wire. Everyone jostled for a space in the same room to hear the same news at the same time as everyone else. Then it was up to them to make the story their own.
The practice of pitching has evolved.
While news releases and news conferences still have their place, pitching the press is more personalized. The days of a blanket pitch are over. Now you need to carefully determine who to pitch. Do your research. Which news outlets, reporters, bloggers and social media influencers are the most appropriate targets? Don’t pitch a story about a new restaurant to someone who typically writes about mutual funds or technology. It’s surprising how often members of the media receive irrelevant pitches. And, still more surprising is that they continue to receive pitches that bomb their name or even their gender.
Clearly, your story has to be newsworthy. At the core, there has to be something new, unusual, timely. And, it’s also important to find a good angle to make your pitch more attractive.
- A human interest angle is always appealing. Can your story be told through an average person who is willing to share their experience?
- A new study or survey can add interest and depth. Current events or industry trends can also be used as a springboard.
- A celebrity who has a reason to partner with you can give your story spark and make it more layered.
- Can you offer a local angle to a broader story?
- A milestone anniversary can be a good hook.
- Surveys show that journalists are increasingly looking for multi-media content. Can you provide them with photos and video? Alternatively, can you orchestrate a clever photo opportunity?
Rather than choosing one angle to form the basis of your pitch, you need multiple angles to be able to offer each of your targeted outlets, journalists or bloggers something a little different.
It’s worth the effort to tailor every pitch.
It’s obviously more work to tailor your pitches. Strategic media relations takes time and effort, but it’s worth it if the payoff is earned media through a network, publication, blog or platform that will reach your target audience. You don’t need a different story for everyone. You just need a different angle.
Consider their point of view.
Look at it from the other side. Dozens of pitches come in every week. How do you decide? If you’re in the market for a new business suit…money aside…would you rather buy off the rack in the same store as everyone else or buy a suit tailored to fit you like a glove? I suspect you’d choose custom or bespoke if you prefer the British term.
Relationships are the key
Beyond angles, of course you need to build relationships. Once you know who will best reach your target audience, follow their content. Share. Engage. Offer yourself as a reliable resource. It’s better and much easier to make a pitch when you have an established relationship. I outlined the best strategies here in How to Pitch the Press in 2016.
Remember this general rule.
If you want to get coverage for your story or event, you have to give the media what they want and what they need. And, you have to make it easy for them. These days, this is truer than ever.
We now operate in a 24/7 digital news environment where demands are high and time is limited. That’s why your targets appreciate a formulated pitch that gives them a unique, built-in angle. Let them know that this angle or spokesperson has been reserved specifically for them and explain why it’s a good fit.
Make them feel special and it will pay dividends.