Sometimes we have to learn firsthand that our pitches aren’t working –or even worse, outright stink. I have been in the public relations industry for almost a decade now, so I have had my share of successes and failures. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned that I want to share with you:
- You’re not tailoring your pitch to the specific reporter: We are fortunate enough the PR industry has a vast amount of resources to help us carefully select what reporters we choose to pitch. With databases like My Media Info, there is not excuse to learn about who we pitch and tailor our pitch to them. Taking the time to carefully select who reach out to will not only keep your reputation, but will help build relationships down the road.
- You don’t know enough about the reporter: Building on that point, one of the most important tactics I have learned is to research every reporter, the topics they write about and recent coverage prior to pitching them. I have found it’s more successful to start a conversation complimenting he/she on recent coverage and then directing the conversation to the pitch. You can even take it one step further and develop a relationship with the reporter. Read through his/her coverage on a regular basis, thoughtfully comment on articles and follow/share relevant social media posts.
- You’re reaching the wrong audience: I have greatly learned to move away from the “spray and pray” approach to pitching, which entails blasting out a pitch and hoping someone bites. I have learned from firsthand experience that taking the time to really hone in on your target audience can go a long way in getting a response. Think carefully about what publications/reporters would be interested and go from there. It may take a little more time, but the payoff will be worth it.
- The topic isn’t newsworthy/interesting: This is where we, as PR professionals, have to be cautious. Often times our companies can feel passionately about a piece of their business and want to do a PR push, but it is our job to take a step back, look at the proposed story idea and provide council on the PR strategy. There are several options I have learned A) if you have an existing relationship with a reporter, you may be able to sneak the announcement in to a larger story, or B) try tying your less interesting news to something reporters haven’t heard before or C) Recommend to your client this isn’t the right story to tell and look at other areas of the business to explore.
- The pitch isn’t attention-grabbing: Once you have come up with a topic you feel is newsworthy, it’s crucial to craft it in a way that will catch a reporter’s attention right off the bat. Start the email off connecting with the reporter (see #1 and #2), then move into a short and sweet pitch. Nobody wants to read lengthy paragraphs or open attached files. I have found it’s best to have short paragraphs, bullet points, embedded images and links to more information.
Hope this helps – what tips can you share?