I am an extrovert, so the thought of engaging in conversation on a commuter train or an elevator doesn’t distress me. In fact, I like connecting with people; it provides me with an invigorating adrenalin rush.
Still, the pragmatic part of my brain always reminds me: “Darryl, don’t waste people’s time unless you have something amazing to share.”
I get it. People are busy. Will they really remember my meaningless small talk? Likely not; insert sad face emoticon here :(
Media practitioners should listen to their own pragmatic inner voices, instead of constantly trying to pitch their next big story to journalists.
As a former TV reporter, I can’t tell you how many times I would get pitches about the biggest deal, best product or yet another social cause. While I am certain the pitchers had the best of intentions, they somehow didn’t recognize that just as they were trying to pitch me, I had other things on my mind. The last thing I wanted to do was chat with a stranger. They assumed I would be interested, but the longer they spoke to me, the more annoyed I became.
Good media relations professionals will always do their best to pitch a client. Great media relations practitioners realize that they should first step back and ask themselves this simple question:
“So what?” is my pitch barometer; does what I have to pitch really matter to a journalist?
It really boils down to answering three simple questions:
1. What’s the big news? The pitch must be fresh and new, or you are wasting the reporter’s time, and, in turn, your client’s investment in you. As well, in our new media landscape, be careful that your pitch is actually ready for public record. Jean Seer of MediaMiser smartly advises: “be thoughtful about pitches, as your pitch is also a few strokes away from being misrepresented.”
2. What does your pitch look like? Show or describe to the journalist the visual or factual elements of your story. Remember that journalists are storytellers, so content and facts must drive a newsworthy narrative.
3. What audience would be impacted by your big news? Answering this question helps you focus your pitch and identify key journalists who will be of greater benefit to you, and, in the end, help your client become newsworthy.
My digital colleague at Navigator, Joseph Lavoie, reminds us most reporters have also built their own dedicated following online. “Even if you don’t succeed with your first pitch,” says Lavoie, “you need to stay attentive to the reporter’s interests. Play the long game because even if you don’t get the story today, you never know what could follow online.”
Now, excuse me. I have some people to meet.
Darryl Konynenbelt is the Media Lead at Navigator Ltd. in Toronto. He media coaches senior executives and individuals on current events, public affairs and crisis management.
Photo: So what via Shutterstock