Pitching media hasn’t changed over the decades I’ve been doing it. The secret is to remember less is more.
The editorial decision-maker you want to reach, whether he or she is an assignment editor at a television station, a news producer at a radio program, a network talk show booker, a blogger, or a web editor don’t want or need lengthy pitches laden with client talking points and industry jargon.
Remember, you are talking to the keeper guarding the gate to the audience you want to reach. The gatekeeper is busy admitting or refusing admission (mostly the latter) to all the publicists who want to talk to his or her audience, and there are hordes of them.
A few well thought out, cogent sentences will get you a lot further than dense boilerplate copy with a hodgepodge of topics you think might interest that editor or producer.
When you craft those few sentences, ask a couple of very simple questions: why will the media gatekeeper care about your pitch? What will you say that will stand out from the scores of other pitches before them?
That will vary from media outlet to media outlet, but most editors, producers, bookers, and bloggers have just one common interest: how to I hang on to the audience I have and how do I attract more people to my audience? If you can help them answer that question, they’ll be ready to work with you.
“But the client says our media pitch has to include a picture of the CEO and a paragraph about his baby grandson, and a list of all the products the company sells along with their features and benefits!”
You’re the expert. Your expertise is why the client hired you. Push back and remind the client of that. The quickest way to shut down a PR campaign is to send a pitch out the client envisions. Oh, and you’ll also shred your relationships with the editors and producers who receive that pitch. The next e-mail you send will go straight to the trash bin.
Let’s say your client is a kitty litter company with a new product:
“Jim, your show last week on dog nutrition was hilarious! Are you ready to learn about the bad potty habits of cats? I’ve got a great story for your viewers…”
In just three sentences you told Gatekeeper Jim you watch his show (or read his blog or listen to his radio program). Media folks love that. You creatively positioned your kitty litter story without flogging the product, sparking Jim’s interest (Say what? Bad potty habits of cats?). And you acknowledged his viewers. Media folks also love when you’re thinking like they think.
If and when Jim does the story, your client’s messages will be included. Don’t worry. And tell the client not to worry. And if Jim doesn’t do the story, he’ll at least remember you as one of the smart publicists out there who throw strikes.