Pitch perfect: Know your sh** before you reach out

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Last month I shared tips on figuring out whether a press release is the right strategy for you. And I promised to share some advice on pitching in a future post. I’m a girl of my word, so here we are.

As I started writing, I realized there are a lot more elements to pitching – more than I can share in just one post. So I’ll be splitting up the topic into three parts: Research, Writing Your Pitch and Pitching. Lucky you!

 Today, we’ll start with research.

 When you develop a specific pitch for a specific media outlet, this requires some research on your part – and an understanding of the story angle you are offering.

 First, as you develop your pitch, find out what other stories have been written about your topic and consider the following:

·         What makes your story interesting and unique?

·         Even if your story has already been covered, is there a new study or research that makes it relevant?

·         Is there a high-profile celebrity who may be associated with your story and has made recent headlines?

·         Do you have an incredible personal interest story that could be the hook to talk about your program/product?

·         If you are in a local market, is there a national angle that you can localize?

Next, you’ll want to research media outlets. If there are journalists who have covered your topic in the past, they may be interested in doing a follow up story, provided your angle is new and/or relevant.

Once you’ve identified media you’d like to pitch, you need to spend some serious time researching the stories they’ve covered. Watch previous segments, read past stories and listen to their shows. Get a good feel for the type of guests they have or the types of people they may quote. How long are their segments? Do they have multiple guests?

I recently worked on pitch for a client who wanted to approach The Talk. After looking at The Talk’s past segments, it became clear we needed to adjust our strategy. Our original idea to pitch an expert and a personal interest story really didn’t line up with the show’s celebrity-driven format. But … the co-hosts spend the first 20 minutes of the show discussing and dissecting current events, so we adapted our pitch to fit that portion of the show.

If you don’t have access to a media database system like MuckRack or Cision, you’ll have to find media contacts the good old fashioned way – with some work and creative sleuthing. Google, LinkedIn and Twitter are my go-tos, and many times journalists’ email addresses (especially in local markets) are on the media outlet’s website.

You still with me? We’ve covered a lot of ground. The bottom line is this: Pitching is not hard, but it does take work.

I hope this helps you the next time you want to pitch your story idea. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 in future posts.

 Until then … Happy PR’ing!