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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