The four essential steps of media pitching
From the time public relations pros start as students, we are taught that the relationship with the media is paramount. We need them to listen to our pitches, as well as help to tell our client’s story. But, let’s be honest, the media has changed from what it was just ten years ago. In 2004, there was no social media and even emailed news releases were still not as accepted as they are in 2014.
So, it’s become extremely important for PR pros to know how the media works. Not understanding what they do and how they do it, can really put you in an early hole with a reporter, producer or blogger.
You need to be smart with your pitching. I have a four-step process that I follow and it’s incredibly helpful.
1. Research. This should be a given. You MUST know the person or media outlet you are pitching. If you aren’t part of a service like Vocus, you’ll need to fire up Google. However, colleagues are also important. Ask them about if they know a particular reporter, how they like to be pitched and what their beat is. I would also check social media, since many print and electronic journalists can be found there.
2. Respect. You may be saying, “why respect?” If you don’t respect the people you are pitching, it will come off in that pitch. You’ll be talking to people who may have, in writing or on television, said something about your client in the past that wasn’t friendly. Put it behind you and be the PRO. And you may just gain a person you can pitch in the future.
3. Outreach. This is, obviously, your call. With that outreach, understand that you must be precise. Focus on what you want to say and how you are going to say it. If you are pitching via social media, keep this in mind: Can I pitch my client in 140 characters? If you can’t, start with a phone call. While this may sound corny, practicing your pitch before you call will help you immensely. Stumbling through your pitch will get you in trouble and lose you valuable time with a reporter.
4. Results. Where did you get a placement? Was your client quoted correctly? Did the release get proper circulation? All of these things are important to your client. But, the results also involves, to me, a follow up to the reporter. Whenever I get a placement, I send a quick mail. It’s not elaborate, but a way to tell that reporter, producer that I appreciated them working with me to get the story out correctly.
While some of these strategies may appear to be a given, there is always someone that doesn’t understand the art of pitching. Just like a major league pitcher works on his mechanics and pitching repertoire, PR pros must work on their pitching craft. It could be the difference between either a great placement, or just a series of emails.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Looking for even more tips on working with the media? We've rounded up Muck Rack's top posts on media relations.
Jason Mollica is the president of JRMComm, a public relations and social media marketing consultancy, located in a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y. He combines knowledge of the broadcast news industry, traditional public relations expertise, and today’s new and innovative social media tools to assist client in maximizing their full potential. Follow him on Twitter and check out his blog.