There’s always something to learn about dealing with the media, which is why I read PR Pitching for Smarties: Master Your Approach to Building Great Media and Influencer Relationships by Marketwired.
The document starts with the premise that media relations and pitching remain very much a part of PR, although today require a new approach. Many of the pointers deal with building relationships and developing a good pitch.
Here are some tips I thought you might find interesting.
“You’ve got to think about building relationships instead of simply passing along information. After all, there’s a person on the other end.”
So learn about the people on the other side of your pitch. Take their styles and preferences into account when contacting them.
Be good to your friends, all the time. Show them respect. Always be kind. If you’re pleasant when your media contacts are stressed, they will be more apt to hear you out.
Know what’s on your target’s minds. Search their latest stories, posts and videos. Comment on their stories; ask meaningful questions. Go beyond complimenting them to actively drive page views to their material.
Relevant content builds relationships. Share such content with the journalist, even when there’s no immediate benefit to you. Connect your media contacts with other influencers and experts, even before you pitch. Both activities go a long way toward building relationships. Helping your targets first may open the door to a receptive pitch later on. It goes back to the impact of reciprocity; people want to return favors.
Build a solid pitch.
Learn how to craft a gem of a pitch that breaks through the clutter. Remember, it’s about the story, not the data. Start with the story and explain why the journalist’s audience would care before diving into proof points. “A pitch that starts with a headline-worthy message in the first sentence is much more likely to get attention than a stat-heavy paragraph.” Of course, back up your pitch with credible and accurate information.
Reframe your angle. Take yourself out of it and focus on the influencer’s audience. “How will your idea impact them? Omit or at least bury self-serving facts.”
Also, journalists today are programmed to think multimedia. So don’t just tell – show. Stories with interesting visuals can help you stand out in the crowd. Use video or infographics to make a story more compelling and to explain complicated information. Creative tools like a speed-drawing video can be attention-getting. Good visuals break the monotony of dry, word-heavy pitches, and can help journalists “get” how to bring the story to life.
Include multimedia and social media functionality in your news releases. Research shows that most journalists want high-res images in news releases, and many want web-quality video.
Whatever you do, keep your pitch short. “If Twitter’s taught us anything, it’s that brevity is more important than ever.”
And remember, no matter what you do some pitches will be rejected. (Yes, it’s true.) What you’re doing is increasing your odds of success by building the relationship and crafting the best pitch you can.
Some other gems
“Accept things are always going to be tipped toward the media or blogger. And that’s OK!”
“In order to help a journalist you have to think like a journalist, long before you pitch.”
“Have you checked your enthusiasm-and-energy meter lately? You have to be excited about your pitch to get anyone else excited about it.”
Some of this material came from advice from the three media relations experts featured in the tip sheet: Dan Ovsey (Edelman), Michael Smart (Michael Smart PR) and Martin Waxman (Martin Waxman Communications).
Again this is my take on some of the material. I encourage you to read the whole document.