Pitching Advice

29 02 2012

When you are pitching stories to a reporter, it’s important to know not only who you are pitching to, but also what you are pitching and why you think it’s newsworthy. Sell them on the newsworthiness and you’re in.

 

Know your story and you’re halfway there

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I love PR (public relations)Image by DoktorSpinn via Flickr

Pitching can be challenging enough for any PR person, but if you don’t have your story down, you’d better have luck on your side.

Branding and positioning are core parts of any marketing campaign; they help tell the story. But, how often does a PR program incorporate the narrative or story around what is being pitched?

Here are a few things that make story telling a powerful media relations tool:

It’s a wrapper for your messages

We all know that good messaging is at the heart of an effective pitch, but what about going a step further and build a wrapper for those messages. Don’t just talk about what your product does, liven it up with interesting details. These could include how the product was developed, where it fits into the competitive landscape, anything unique or quirky, does it support or counter a trend, something interesting about the development process. Tell a story and your pitch becomes very interesting for those you’re trying to reach. The reporter will love you for it.

Look at the recent Old Spice social media campaign. Sure it was about shaving cream, but it really was so much more. It was compelling because it told a story – actually a few of them.

It can make a routine product stand out from the pack

I’ve been doing PR for financial firms for over 20 years and have worked on most of the industry’s products and services. One of the most routine, but necessary of products is the “college planning kit.”  The pitch materials are pretty much the same – press release, backgrounder, Q&A. Each year there is very little to distinguish one firm’s campaign from another. Then one year, dreading the sameness of the campaign, we did something different and told a story. It was a huge success.

The pitch was more than the product, after all everyone had one. Instead we focused on the issue of single parents savings for college. It was the first time that angle was used and reporters responded. The campaign went from sameness to uniqueness, all because we told a story about a routine product in a way that touched people beyond the mere facts.

Where do you find the story?

The angles are all around you. That single parent idea came from  a quick lunch with a colleague, a mom who was on her own in financing her son’s college education. Lightbulb.

My advice is to think like a reporter. The best will always think about what they’re covering in terms of something broader. A trend, how the competition is responding, testing it, looking at who is the user and what they think of it. Do the same think with your pitch; look at your product beyond its four corners and see whether it fits into a broader design. Build a story.

Try it out. You’ll have successful pitches and a lot more fun doing them.

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Pitching Stories

28 02 2012

Usually MR people are the ones pitching the stories, but sometimes it is the “citizen journalists” who need a little help.

 

How to Pitch a Publicist

December 2, 2010 | Author 

I know, you are probably scratching your head right now. Well, the topic of pitching a publicist isn’t as silly as you might think.

Yes, that’s right, publicists get pitched too. Whether it’s for product reviews or hiring a blogger for a myriad of services (writing, conference sponsorship, and consultant opportunities) – it happens.

Bloggers and publicists – it seems we are all just trying to find a way to get along and work together. There is a lot of information out there on how to pitch bloggers, yet there’s not much material on pitching publicists or, what I refer to as “reverse pitching.”

Every day, more and more blogs are popping up and it’s making the blogging arena pretty competitive. Since I work with a lot of bloggers, I’m continually asked from a publicist standpoint on how I like being approached, or what do I look for in working with a blogger. Let me just put it out there that every company, brand and publicist looks for different things.

That being said, here are a few pointers to keep in mind when pitching a publicist. Surprisingly, these may sound familiar.

Be Honest

On occasion a blogger may feel she/he has to exaggerate blog stats. This is not a good idea. Publicists and companies use a number of measuring tools and will quickly discover if you are not being entirely truthful in your statistical roundup. If your blog is new, that’s okay, say so. If your blog has less than flattering stats, why not focus on the other things that you bring to table?

Showcase yourself…the right way

Yes numbers are important, but that’s not the whole enchilada. Influence can come from more than just blog numbers. Focus on your writing, your community reach – anything that might appeal to that specific company or project.  Clearly state the services you can offer. If you are looking to host a Twitter party, lay it all out there. Also, try linking to a few example posts within your e-mail.  I can’t stress this enough, spell correctly. If you can’t use proper spelling in an e-mail, a company will be less inclined to have you review their product or hire you for your services.

Be Patient & follow up

Yes, bloggers get a tremendous amount of e-mail. Want to hear a secret? So do publicists. Don’t be discouraged if it takes awhile for a company or PR person to get back to you. If you don’t receive a response, it’s okay to follow up. If you do hear back, and the answer isn’t quite what you were hoping for, be patient and don’t lose touch.

Develop a Relationship

Ever hear that saying: “It’s all about the relationship?” Well it goes both ways. I’m not a huge fan of receiving e-mails starting with “Dear PR Person,” or wacky version of my name. Make the introduction personal. Also, don’t give up hope. For example, when I speak with bloggers on a regular basis, I keep a file on all the other services that they offer (Twitter party hosting, writing, etc.), so that when the appropriate time and need arises, I have quick access to the info. Also, if one project isn’t right for a specific blogger, who is to say another project won’t be?

As a publicist, is there anything that you look for in working with bloggers?

Read more: How to Pitch a Publicist | PRBreakfastClub http://prbreakfastclub.com/2010/12/02/how-to-pitch-a-publicist/#ixzz1nqIzuPP4





Building a Friendly Relationship

27 02 2012

I believe it’s important for MR people to consider journalists their allies. Here are some tips to build that friendly relationship and have them view you the same way.

 

How To Build A Successful Media Relationship – Getting Back to Basics

by Erin Smith on 01/17/2011

The most essential part of our jobs as public relations professionals is building media relationships.  Without thriving relationships with the media, we cannot successfully secure media coverage for clients – whether in TV, print, radio or social media.

The key to success for PR pros is meaningful and frequent communication with your media contacts.  It’s not just about you and what you want – relationships are a two-way street.  Keep the communication open, and the relationship will be beneficial for both.

Below are a few basic tips to help you build relationships:

  • Build a well-thought-out media list – this is the basic and most important step in trying to secure coverage for your client or business.  There are great tools to help you build media lists.  Software such as Cision or Vocus have done most of the work for you and have compiled all the contact information for the reporters. However, it is very important to know each publication and understand what they write about.  For example, you may build a list to include all pharmaceutical publications, but some publications only cover manufacturing or clinical trials.  You wouldn’t want to send a press release on pharmacy filling equipment to either of those publications.
  • Know the reporter that you are contacting and what he or she has written about.  Make sure the person to whom you are pitching is the right person for your story – if you aren’t sure, just ask.  Oftentimes a reporter will pass you along to another reporter who would be interested.
  • Don’t try to sell your product or client to the reporter.  Instead, talk to him or her about a subject that might involve your client or product.  For example, if we wanted to promote a client’s architectural expertise, we might include them in a story angle about new home architectural designs for 2011.
  • Provide reporters with everything they might need to write the story.  Have all research and supporting documents ready to send to the reporter at a moment’s notice.  Don’t make the reporter wait for you to put something together.  By the time you get your research done, the opportunity might have passed.
  • When communicating with reporters, don’t expect them to write a story for you.  Instead, work on building a relationship with them.  When you are interested in asking someone on a date, you don’t just walk right up to the person and ask him or her out (Well, maybe you do, but I know this wouldn’t work to get me on a date!). Usually you find out a person’s name and what interests that individual. Do the same here.

One of the biggest downfalls for PR professionals in our industry is having the attitude that reporters need you to do their job. The truth is that PR professionals and reporters depend on each other to produce the best product for everyone.

Image Source: Stefan





Branding

24 02 2012

While watching the TODAY show this morning, there was a segment that really caught my attention. It was called Behind the Brand and basically focused on new promotions or things that companies are doing that are either hurting or helping their brand. As a MR person, I thought it was pretty huge that they had a segment like this on a talk show (which goes along with a post about how to get on a talk show that I posted earlier this week). I tried to find the video of the segment, but NBC doesn’t have the whole thing posted. Instead, I found this website which is kind of interesting. It takes a look at branding.

 

http://gobehindthebrand.com/

 

 





Publicity

23 02 2012

Is any kind of publicity good publicity? I suppose that depends on who you ask. I once worked with a journalist who enjoyed the fact that he was hated by many readers because he said that got him more readers and attention than nothing at all. Here’s a look at a brand that had some bad publicity….but did it really hurt them?

 

Consumed

Good News, Bad News

By ROB WALKER
Published: October 29, 2010

When the Gap unveiled a new logo earlier this month, the reaction was swift, intense and very, very negative. In fact, some people detested the look so much it actually inspired them: somebody set up a Twitter account (@GapLogo) that purported to speak in the unpopular design’s voice, and someone else built a site called CrapLogo.me that made it easy to convert any short text into an imitation of the brand’s new style. The Gap tried to pivot off the negative buzz by asking the online hate mob for advice, in a sort of “crowd sourcing” gimmick, but that didn’t go over well, either. In just four days, the company capitulated and announced that it would not change its logo after all.

Reaction: Daniel Mihailescu/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

 

Consumed on Facebook

consumedRead more from Rob Walker and connect with Consumed on Facebook.

What’s the real impact of such a P.R. misstep? Marketing and business experts constantly warn about the dangers of ending up on the wrong side of public opinion, particularly in the age of social media, when gripes and mockery seem to explode overnight. Then again, there’s the old cliché that there’s no such thing as bad publicity — better that people are talking about your brand than not, period. Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the Wharton School, was interested in these contradictory views and recently published research in which he and his colleagues Alan T. Sorensen and Scott J. Rasmussen (both of Stanford University) tried to determine which argument wins in the real world. “Can negative publicity actually have a positive effect?” they ask in the article published this month in the journal Marketing Science. “And if so, when?”

A crucial factor, they concluded, is how familiar a brand or product or other entity was before the negative publicity. Crunching data that cross-matched book sales against critics’ appraisals in The New York Times Book Review, they found that negative reviews of a new book by an “established” author hurt sales. “For books by relatively unknown (new) authors, however, negative publicity has the opposite effect,” increasing sales by 45 percent over their expected sales trajectory, they write. Evidently this boils down to increased awareness: the mere act of introducing something to a broader public — even by saying that it stinks — increases the chances that more members of that public will want it anyway.

Follow-up studies pointed out that as time passes, we may not remember the context in which we heard of something (a pan); we just know it’s familiar. (An anecdotal example Berger and his co-authors cite: a spike in people seeking information about Kazakhstan from Hotels.com after the release of “Borat,” a movie that mocked the place as backward and squalid.) It’s possible, then, that if Internet design snobs had risen up en masse to attack the new logo of a relatively obscure clothing store, it might have been a huge plus. Musing about real-world applications of their research, the study’s authors even suggest, for instance, that the makers of a small independent film “might want to allow, or even fan the flames of, negative publicity.” But obviously the Gap, with thousands of locations and a long history of high-profile advertising, is the epitome of a familiar brand — nobody who came across the logo brouhaha was hearing about the chain for the first time. The research would suggest that the company probably did the right thing by beating a quick retreat to silence the naysayers.

Then again, there’s a case to be made that the answer is not so simple. Nobody was actually criticizing Gap jeans or sweaters; they were just commenting on one aspect of its public image. Berger and his team have also collected data about negative attention to concepts “that are conceptually linked to a product” — for instance, bad press about a musician’s personal life that has no direct bearing on his or her music. He found that sales of Michael Jackson records rose during periods when the singer was “in the news for child-molestation charges” or dangling his baby over a balcony. Presumably no music shopper made a linear decision, opting to pick up some Michael Jackson records because of those allegations and incidents.

Perhaps the Gap debacle, too, is a situation in which a mere boost in awareness is useful: in an interview, Berger suggested that the news stories about the Gap logo change were not so much a conscious prompt as a kind of nonconscious “trigger in the environment.” (My favorite example of this is the curious rise of “Seinfeld” DVD sales after one of the stars, Michael Richards, was in the news for unleashing a racist tirade during a stand-up performance.) When it comes to bad news, Berger continued, it may be that “the more indirect it is, the more likely it could have a positive effect.”

Even amid the heckling, some speculated that the Gap’s logo makeover was in effect a publicity stunt, calculated to cause a fuss. That’s hard to believe (and the company denied it), but if Berger is right, then it’s not impossible that it could function that way just the same. If the Gap ends up selling a few extra pairs of jeans this month, it may just have its logo debacle to thank.





Getting on TV

22 02 2012

Here are some good tips on how to get you or your company featured on a talk show.

 

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217543

 

 





Pitching on Twitter

21 02 2012

I know as a journalist I often used Twitter to tell my followers what story I was working on for the day and also used Twitter when I was searching for a source for a story. Knowing that, it can also be a good tool for Media Relations. Here are some useful tips for good ways to pitch on Twitter.

Guest

Eight Tips to Pitch Media Better on Twitter


Guest post by Maya Wasserman, a senior account executive at Bailey Gardiner.

The continued proliferation of social media has changed how the PR industry interacts with and pitches the media. These days, the media are flocking to Twitter in droves, and the platform presents a new opportunity for PR pros to connect with journalists and bloggers. However, pitching there has its own set of rules and best practices. Following are my tips on how to successfully pitch media on Twitter.

  1. Develop and strengthen your online brand first. Before you pitch anyone, you want to be seen as a credible and influential source. Do you engage often with your followers? Do you share interesting and valuable information with your community? Twitter is a place to engage and converse. If you look like a spammer or like you’re using it to stalk media, you probably won’t be successful.
  2. Find the actual journalist, rather than the publication. This takes time and research. There are a few good resources for finding media, such asMediaOnTwitter, and more publications are listing their staff’s Twitter handles in the publication. Twitter lists are another good resource for finding media.
  3. Build a relationship first. Journalists are much more likely to accept a pitch from a PR person they already have a relationship with. Begin building a relationship by retweeting them, replying to their questions, and commenting on their blog posts or articles. Twitter is a great place to become a resource for media, and many journalists discuss stories they’re working on or areas of interest there, so listen and learn first.
  4. The same standard PR best practices apply here, too. Don’t pitch journalists off topic. Personalize pitches for each reporter. Proofread your tweets for spelling and grammar. Avoid buzzwords.
  5. Brevity is not only key, it’s necessary. You only have 140 characters to sell your client, so use them well. I find that fitting my pitch into 140 characters is a good exercise in simplifying and focusing on what’s most important.
  6. Use PitchEnginePitchEngine is a great tool to share the rest of the details, images, and video that you can’t fit into those 140 characters.
  7. DM when possible. Once you have built enough of a relationship with the journalist, it is likely that they will be following you back. If so, DM your pitch. If not, @replying works, too, but remember that your pitch will be out there for all to see.
  8. It helps if the client you are pitching is on Twitter, too. Use your client’s Twitter handle in your pitch so the journalist can follow that handle, too, and begin building a relationship with the brand directly.

Pitching media on Twitter is like pitching media anywhere else: It’s not easy. It takes research, a smart and relevant pitch, and impeccable PR and writing skills. Have you had any successes pitching media on Twitter? How did you do it?

Maya Wasserman is a senior account executive at Bailey Gardiner. She is also blog manager for the agency’s Don’t Drink the Koolaid blog.