Demystifying Media Pitching for PR Pros
By Jason Mollica
It could be argued that one of the biggest challenges as a public relations professional is pitching the media. You may get a hit with a pitch the first time around, but then the well goes dry the next few times you attempt to get a story placed. It can be a maddening experience, especially in the digital age.
While pitching may be enough to have you grabbing for a bottle of Tums, it does not have to be a stomach-churning experience. Media pitching should be about relationships; the relationship between you and your client, as well as yourself and the reporter you will be pitching. Think about pitching like this. In many ways, it’s like dating. You aren’t getting married before you go on that first date. So, do you think that you will get story placement without first understanding who the reporter (or producer for television) is and what he or she covers?
If you don’t take the time to develop a working relationship with the media, your pitches will do for naught
So, why are relationships important in the digital age of pitching? Because first impressions are paramount, especially in the 140-character world. You need to do your research first and look into the people and publication(s) you will be pitching. Ask colleagues if they’ve dealt with this outlet or particular reporter in the past. You should also get an idea how the reporter handles social media.
If you want to be respected, you need to echo that respect to reporters. You need their storytelling skills. Understand that, in print especially, they’re under deadline, so keep it short and be able to work around their schedule. When it comes to outreach, you need to be precise and confident. Much like a hitter takes cuts in the batting cage, you need to practice your pitch, as well. Do this beforehand even thinking of placing a call and make sure you know every detail and any possible question the journalist may have.
One other important tip about outreach: you may have pitched the story, but not received coverage. While it is disappointing, I always recommend that you keep developing a relationship with a journalist, or even the assignment desk reporter at a television station. By showing you aren’t just a pitch-and-run type of pro, a reporter will appreciate the time and the effort. If you have a good story, the reporter will appreciate that you’ve given him/her the necessary details.
The last step is all about results and measuring those results. You should measure any engagement and impressions. See how far the story reached on social networks. Were there comments on the story on Facebook? What were the retweet numbers from the publication? Get this data together. Your client will want it.
On March 30, Marketwired will be hosting a webinar on smart media pitching. Whether you are an experienced pro or someone who would like to get some new tips, the webinar will give you the guidance you need to improve your pitch to the media.