If you were hoping this was going to be a post about the recent announcement of Pitch Perfect 2 opening in May 2015, I am sorry to disappoint you. As one of my favorite comedies, I would like nothing better than to list my top five movie quotes complete with several memes. However, this is not the appropriate avenue for that.
One of the more important roles of a public relations professional is to determine the appropriate outlet for communication. When a client has relevant news or a crisis situation, they come to us first to ask what to do next. After gathering all information about the situation, our next step is to strategize which media is most relevant to send it to, and then, we create the perfect pitch.
In a recent PRSA meeting, we listened to a panel of local media who discussed the best practices for pitching stories and shared stories of the worst pitches they have received. One horror story that stood out to me was a magazine editor that had recently received a pitch where he was blind copied on the email. Not only was the news irrelevant to his magazine, but he also said he would not have used it any way for the sheer fact that the PR person had not taken the time to craft an admissible pitch for his magazine. I was appalled to hear that some people send news that way. At Obsidian, we are encouraged to read news often in order to understand what types of stories are pertinent for certain publications and reporters. While each pitch that is sent out may not be perfect, we do our best to ensure it is relevant and timely to the outlet we are pitching.
If you want to be pitch perfect, there are a few key lessons you should practice daily. Mark Thabit, senior vice president of marketing and project management at Vocus, explains how to make the perfect pitch to grab a reporter’s attention in in this article on Ragan.com. Among these are straightforward tips such as to speak like a human being, network with media and know your reporter. The following tips are ones I think about regularly when crafting a pitch.
Get to the point. If you think a reporter is going to read your eight-paragraph essay talking about a company’s new hire, you are wrong. Reporters received hundreds, if not thousands, of emails a day. They may only read the subject line or the first few lines of your email, so get to the point quickly and make sure the news is intriguing. If you don’t think it’s compelling news, then a reporter is most likely not going to either.
Answer the five Ws. This goes along with getting to the point. From the beginning of news sharing and storytelling, who, what, when, where and why have been the foundation of any story. And, this will never change. Make sure your pitch includes answers to these questions without too many details. The details can be included in an attached news release or interview.
Offer other media. A perfect pitch usually is not just words. With news being shared instantly through social media and websites, media doesn’t always have the time or resources to send a cameraman to cover your story. Use a content data sharing system like DropBox to share large photo or video files.
Once you have crafted the perfect pitch, reread it to triple check that you have given accurate facts, attached any supporting media and are sending it to the correct reporter. You want to be confident in your pitch to know that you have “crushed it.”