5 Essentials for a Fabulous PR Pitch
PR can be confusing but getting news coverage and publicity for your business is not impossible. In fact, publicity is critical to increasing your sales and income.
I remember standing in the office of a new PR client 17 years ago. The manager told me in a most declarative, matter-of-fact voice: “We’re the best-kept secret.” I cringed and replied: “You’re in business. You don’t want to be a secret. It’s time to let the cat out of the bag.”
And that is exactly what happened. Here was a fabulous organization brimming with newsworthy stories—and missed opportunities. Week after week, I uncovered new story ideas and coordinated interviews with stakeholders and clients. Media outlets in every corner of the state took my pitches and ran interviews and stories on dozens of newsworthy topics that affected the public.
There were press releases, statements on breaking news, TV and radio interviews, newspaper articles, op-ed pieces and more. Keep in mind this was 2000 before social media hit. My client was tickled with the depth and breadth of their newfound visibility. I trained several of their staff members on how to create solid content and pitch stories.
I’ve updated my list of pointers on writing and pitching and the tips below reflect today’s technology. Use the guidelines to build trust with reporters. Once you establish credibility, journalists will contact you when they need a dependable and knowledgeable source. Don’t be the best-kept secret!
- Avoid self-promotion. Within the word “newsworthy” is the word “new.” When writing a press release or pitch, be sure you have a fresh hook on a story, trend or issue. Your announcement must be timely, relevant and compelling to the reporter—and the public.
- Write tip-sheet style releases. To build your credibility, help people solve their problems. Think of it this way: People have a pain, and you have the medicine that will ease their discomfort. The tip-sheet format—similar to this post—is useful because it allows busy readers to skim content and glean nuggets of information. Our cognitive bandwidth is more limited than ever, so keep things brief.
- Do your homework. Before social media took over our lives (when was that??!!), PR pros had to research—without Google or the Internet. Those who wanted publicity ran to local libraries to peruse books and tattered newspaper clippings. Encyclopedias were commonplace as well. Today, access to information is a non-issue. Remember, virtually anything and everything resides on the web. Reporters and journalists on the other side of your pitch will likely try to poke holes in your story before they commit to covering it. Due diligence is a must.
- Think multimedia. Reporters expect to see more than words; they want images, action and video. They want to hear something. Have you considered using your phone camera to record your press release or pitch? These tools provide decision makers with an opportunity to get acquainted with your personality and communication style. Stand out by inviting journalists to connect with you on an exciting and deeper level.
- Answer the question: The paramount question every reporter and influencer asks when deciding whether or not to cover a story is: “Who cares? Why should I cover this story?” When you write your pitch or press release, be sure you can answer that question. Consider this powerful statement: How does my story affect and impact their audience?
PS: The 5-Day Content Challenge Begins Monday, August 14, 2017 on Facebook.