By Diana Ennen
Working as a publicist, marketing expert, editor, PR pro, etc. — no matter what you call it — can be stressful. The highs and lows and ups and downs can be better than most roller coaster rides. Some days you send a pitch and immediately get responses and some days you send an equally good pitch and you can hear a pin drop.
It can be easy to be discouraged and scale back your efforts or even stop completely. But remember, exposure in other media outlets is crucial to becoming and remaining a thought leader, not to mention the recruitment and retention benefits.
First what exactly is a pitch? It can be a number of things, but my best successes over the past 20 years of doing this come from sending out expert articles and then writing an introduction (the pitch) on why the article is newsworthy and also why the expert is the one to share this information.
You can bullet point the main points from the article in the pitch. Then you send this pitch to the right targeted media contacts, and hopefully the result is getting you and your association and members in major media or the publications they want.
Here are some additional tips to pitching the media:
Learn What Works — When you don’t receive a response to a good pitch, take the time to figure out why. Was it not timely? Did someone else get there first? Was it not on a good topic? Was the information not unique and too often repeated? What can you do better for more success next time? Note sometimes it just boils down to nothing you did, it just didn’t work. But it’s important to take stock and learn from each attempt.
On the same token, when a pitch gets awesome results, do the same thing. What contributed to its success? Why do you think major media picked it up? What can you continue to do to see these results more often? This always leads to better media coverage in the future.
Research Topics — This seems so basic but you have no idea how important it is. It’s not enough to have great content, you have to be able to explain why it matters. It’s critical to research topics of interest and find the ones that are most newsworthy, on topic, game-changing, time-sensitive, and something you or your members are experts on. The easiest place to start is internet searches on topics of interest. This allows you to see headline topics and with that information you can dig deeper. Now combine that expertise with what the media might be interested in and bam — you have a winner.
Now if a publication just ran an article, it’s doubtful they will do another so soon. However, this can show you that there is an interest on it and also you can target other publications on those topics. You might discover that publications write frequently on similar topics so that opens up doors for you as well.
Build Relationships — Now this isn’t only building relationships with the media. It’s just as important to build relationships with your member experts. Know their voice, their strengths, their subject in and out, etc. Also, with the media build solid relationships by going over and above for them time and time again
Use a Similar Format Each Time – I found a format that works and I like to keep that same format. When someone receives my pitches they know what to expect: quality articles from experts. And the way I set it up, makes it easy to review. Begin with an opening paragraph discussing the topic and then the mention that we are including an article by the expert on that topic below. Then I break down into bullet points key points from the article. Next comes a paragraph similar to a bio stating the expert’s qualifications as well as where the expert has been featured, which I continually update. Follow this up with a closing paragraph inviting them to run this article or contact us for an interview or additional articles and then the closing.
In the past few months, my pitches have resulted in several big wins including Fast Company, Forbes, CNN, Social Media Today, Inc., Young Entrepreneur, New York Post, PR Daily, Site Pro News, CEO Mom Magazine, and many others. I believe my success is attributed to all the above, but most importantly being the kind of publicist they like to work with. When media emails for additional information, I get back to them professionally and promptly with everything they need. Plus, I make it personable so it doesn’t feel just like another transaction, but more of a great connection.
Pitching the media and doing PR can seem overwhelming. But with these tips and a little perseverance, you’ll soon be reaping the benefits of broad media coverage.
Diana Ennen is president of Virtual Word Publishing.