This is a guest post by Alison Kenney.
- Ask any reporter for tips on pitching them and 9 times out of 10 they’ll say, “read my writing.” Here’s how that can help:
- If they repeatedly cover the same topic you can offer a resource in that area.
- Look at your pitch target’s headlines to get a sense of their preferred tone, format and style of writing.
- Understand what they’ve already covered and don’t re-pitch old stories.
- Reporters don’t like to be pitched stories that have already been written…if you bring up a past story, do it to offer a completely different angle or side.
- Check the AP Planner (@AP_Planner on Twitter) calendar for ideas that are timely – anniversaries of major events, etc.
- Link to, or reference, a story that has lots of stats.
- Think seasonal – what are the major trends and how can you tie your pitch to them?
- How does your story relate to major world events – e.g. the Olympics, presidential elections.
- Talk to your sales team – how do they pitch the product?
- Visualize your pitch as it would appear – with a headline, hook, quotes from different sources, etc.
- Think like a freelance writer and pitch story ideas to your editor that you can then plan to write yourself.
- Turn your story idea into a “top 10 tips” piece.
- Read different, “competing” media outlets – how are they covering a topic differently?
- Pitch a “resource” rather than a story – offer your client as an expert/authority and spell out the areas of expertise.
- Better yet, offer multiple resources for a story.
- Better still, offer a customer or someone “in the field” for perspective.
- Take a look at the competition – what articles have they been in? Don’t copy, but use them for inspiration.
- When you look at how the media covers your industry, what story aren’t they covering?
- Pitch your spokespeople as profile subjects.
- What do your clients, customers and prospects care about? Frame your story around that.
- Google your story idea.
- Read good writing.
- Can your story be pitched as a video interview?
- Can your spokespeople speculate about the outcome of an upcoming event?
- Do you have a sample product the media can preview?
- Anticipate requests for artwork like high resolution photos.
- If you’re pitching a trend, how do you prove it’s a trend? i.e. do you have multiple witnesses/spokespeople/
- Consider the other side(s) to your pitch (since the editor will), what’s missing, what else will they ask about?
- Include helpful hyperlinks in your pitch to sites like the company’s homepage, the spokesperson’s bio, books they’ve written, authoritative industry sites, etc.
- Suggest meeting for coffee.
- Get to know your spokespeople – what are their hobbies, life histories, interests, unique accomplishments?
- Do you have video examples of your spokespeople in action to share with a new broadcast pitch target?
- Do you have a story about something that didn’t work or a problem that you faced that you can share?
- For inspiration, consume media that is completely different from your targets (e.g. morning talk shows if you regularly pitch high tech trade media)
- Ask the writer how they prefer to receive pitches and what they’re currently working on
- Read letters to the editor and comments on blog posts for new approaches and to consider the “other side of the story”
- Before you pitch, read the writer’s blog, Twitter stream, LinkedIn profile, Facebook page (if it’s public)
- Note the outlet’s production cycle and deadlines so you understand the best times to make contact.
- Localize a national story.
- Nationalize a local story.
- Summarize your story idea and say it out loud; if a stranger was listening would they find it interesting?
- Explain to your kids what you do and what story you’re trying to tell and then ask them to explain it back to you.
- Remember “if it bleeds, it leads” – how does your story angle play into readers’ deepest concerns?
- A pitch is different from other marketing communications – it’s your opportunity to tailor it and deviate from the approved company messaging statements.
- Think about what would make your spokesperson a desirable resource to THIS writer you’re pitching; is it because of what the spokesperson does? Is it because of their past achievements? Or their current goal/job? Their past or current affiliations? Does their gender or other socio-cultural status make them appealing?
- If you’re struggling with the right angle, try writing your pitch in more than one way. Focus on a different angle for each new pitch.
- Read HARO or other pitch query services to get a sense of what topics are trending.
- Think like a reporter and ask yourself where they get their story ideas – scanning news wires, industry blogs, anticipating upcoming IPOs, new product launches, etc.?
Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.com. Learn more about Alison Kenney.
Photo credit: Bernat Casero
Date: July 30th, 2012 / Author: Lindsay
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