Unusual ways of pitching for best results
[By Karen Geier]
Media pitching tends to be something most PR professionals think they are good at and they have a ‘system’ for. The problem is, with communication, having a ‘system’ can be a recipe for disaster. Just like a joke repeated often ceases to be funny, an outreach strategy repeated in a cookie-cutter fashion to the same audience can lead to diminishing returns for you and your brand.
This is where thinking creatively not just about the message, but about the method, is how brands are winning in today’s media market.
Pitching Basics: Answer the Two Questions
The two questions every journalist or blogger wants you to answer as efficiently as possible for them are:
- Who are you?
- Why should I care?
Every single bit of copy needs to address and contribute to answering these two questions in an intriguing, efficient way so that you can spark the interest of a writer. Remember “it’s interesting to me, an employee or representative of this company” is not a correct answer to question number two. Make sure you’re looking at your pitch through the eyes of a stranger, not the eyes of a mother.
Once you’ve got the answers to these questions, begin building the framework of the pitch. It’s advisable to put together a messaging list of everything you think is important and what the major pain points will be. This will help you later on when you’re tailoring your pitches.
A Note about Pain Points
Objections to your pitch are normal, and knowing where they might come from is critical. Knowing that each reporter or blogger has different pain points, or different things they like and hate in your vertical, is crucial to successfully pitching. Make note of any intel you’ve gathered or is readily available about the writer so it can be incorporated into your pitch.
Finding Unusual Ways to Pitch
Once you’re confident you’ve got your messaging and pain points in order, it’s time to look at the ways you can pitch. The most successful ways, the ones where the writer often remarks on the pitch itself and not just the product, come from delivering an authentic representation of your experience.
It might seem like it will be daunting to organize or expensive to do, but thinking about the essence of your product or service and the unique experience it delivers, and delivering that in an authentic way, is the best policy when pitching outside of a press release that reaches a targeted media list.
Is your product a consumable product? Look for ways you can engage writers in consuming it – and not necessarily in a controlled, pressure-filled environment. Don’t think about holding a party to “make it fun.” Consider how it is used and set up an out-of-the-box experience (including instructions or suggestions, if necessary) to let your writers fully grasp your selling points. This can make all the difference between a mention on their site and an actual review.
Do you market a service? Don’t try to force the recipients on your media list into an experience they may be reticent to have. Instead, you should look for how this service would naturally fit into their lives, and look for ways you can entice them into experiencing it. This might mean sending out teaser information, or creating a website that sets the stage for your amazing solution to a problem they have. Make the acceptance of your service as easy as possible for them. Don’t simply ask them for a time and send someone to them. This is transactional, not experiential, and your service might be treated as such in the coverage, if any, that you receive.
Unless you have a stealth product under embargo that requires a lot of people in a room, don’t have an unveiling-day type of event. You’re probably not Apple. Look for how you can personally work your product into the life of the person you hope will cover it.
Don’t forget that writers have families, friends, and coworkers. They can be invaluable when pitching. If your product is consumable, look to how you can facilitate an experience for several people at once of your media contact’s choosing. If it’s a service, remember that plus ones (or more) are always appreciated. You might just find a spouse or child is your greatest cheerleader.
Pitching is more than sending a press release to a list of people. It’s about making sure a writer can easily understand and get behind your product in an authentic way to get the best press hits possible. Consider each media contact individually and tailor your message and approach. Spending time and money on experiential or unusual pitches is a great way to secure top level, positive press mentions for your brand.