PR offers an impressive array of tools - press releases, media alerts, contributed articles, op-eds, press conferences, speaking engagements, etc. - to help you get your story across. But the pitch, to borrow from Douglas Adams, is the the most massively useful thing you can have.
Your pitch is your opening salvo. You send your pitch to reporters, editors, and other media influencers in hopes of gaining attention, winning respect, and building life-long relationships for your business.
A Good Pitch
A good pitch tells a story. It begins with a compelling subject line, there are characters to develop, it draws people in, and it leaves them wanting more.
A good pitch should include a relevant statistic, testimonial, case study, or some other newsy hook that gives your story greater relevance.
The pitch must also be timely, and it must carry a tone of authority, but without being pompous or arrogant.
And the pitch needs to be brief. Really brief.
So, a good pitch is a timely, succinct, well-written, newsworthy message that breaks through the noise to gain the reporter’s attention and convinces her to respond to you instead of the hundreds of other people vying for her attention.
Phew! It’s no wonder there are so many bad pitches out there. But the truth is that most pitches aren't bad. Rather, they are tired, and boring, and sad.
The deep thought is that you shouldn't expect to break through the first time you reach out to a reporter. People seem to forget that reporters are people, too, and the goal is not to get your story written NOW – the goal is to initiate a relationship that becomes mutually valuable over time. You provide content and context to fuel the reporter’s writing to help her tell a greater story in which your business plays a role.
And that is the beauty of public relations.
PR is not a race to the finish; it’s a courtship. You start pitching, and eventually, you will get a response. The response will contain helpful nuggets of information that you can use to improve your next pitch. And then you take a deep breath, and you try again. Very soon, you will get results.
The process itself becomes valuable in that it leverages the knowledge of the people who influence your market to generate useful feedback. You will soon learn how to leverage the feedback to help you focus your message, hone your business model, and supercharge your brand.
That’s it. That’s all there is.