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The Art of the Pitch: 5 Tips for Success

I must get a dozen sales e-mails every day. They usually start out with something bland like, “Can you spare 10 minutes for a conversation about (fill in the blank).”

What’s often clear is that the sales representative never bothered to learn what my company does or how whatever it is they’re selling might be of interest to me. Their pitches are mostly cookie cutter, no doubt blasted out the same way to a number of prospects and earning immediate deletes or unsubscribes.

PR pros can learn a lot from this kind of unproductive sales practice.

To be successful, it’s vital you know what it is that will capture your media contact’s interest; what is it you’re offering that will help the editor, reporter, or producer better do his or her job? And remember, this is a competitive sport. There are hundreds of other publicists out there pitching the same media contact.

I’ve always thought of publicity as a free service for those in the media. But pitches have to be presented correctly, otherwise you’re just a nuisance. That means drilling down to determine what the media contact needs. Thus, your pitch should explain in the very first sentence or two why what you have is superior to everything else other publicists are offering. The worst thing that can happen is the contact passes, but he or she will remember you.

The good news is, news and information are combustible commodities. The media always needs more. But research before you pitch. Find out what the media contact’s hot buttons are; what will intrigue him or her, then fashion your pitch accordingly. A little flattery doesn’t hurt either. This is easier than it sounds, given all the online resources available to gather intelligence.

Avoid this: “Hi Mary, we recently began representing FUBAR Fruit Bars, which come in a variety of sizes and popular flavors. According to FUBAR’s CEO…” DELETE.

Try this instead:

“Hi Jim, I liked your piece last week on European travel destinations for singles. Your readers may also be interested in our resort client’s new senior singles’ wellness program…”

“Hi Jennifer, your recent story about breast cancer awareness was very informative. Your viewers may also want to know about our client’s new colorectal screening service for high-risk adults…”

“Hi Chris, I shared your blog on how to find quality child care with my fellow moms. Your followers may also want to know about our client’s new car seat that secures andentertains kids…”

  • Do your homework. Learn whatever you can about the contact, his or her interests and beat, and recent work that relates to your client.
  • Always start by addressing your media contact’s needs. Media contacts always need more readers, viewers, and/or more followers.
  • Keep it short, sweet and on point.
  • I’m old school. I still love the telephone for pitching. The media contact hears your voice and there’s a real connection.
  • Once you establish a relationship, keep it going, even if it’s just to periodically say hello.