By Tawanda Carlton, Junior Account Executive
The gatekeepers of news are slowly leaving their posts, as the rise of social and digital media have taken center stage, giving anyone the opportunity to tell their story. More than ever, pitching has become methodological. It’s not getting any easier for PR pros to break through the noise, but it can be done. Is your pitch stopping you from getting the coverage you desire? Here are seven reasons why your pitch may be going unnoticed.
You Haven’t Built Relationships
If you’re looking to gain coverage for your client or business, developing an effective relationship with the media is key. The right relationship can propel your client in the right direction. Using your connections with the media is an opportunity to “tell your story,” and get a message across that otherwise may have remained under the radar. TIP: To build this relationship, meet the reporter where they are, i.e. town hall meetings, panels, luncheons. You can find this by checking their social media, most of the time journalists will let you know where they are.
Your Pitch is Not Personal
If you’re curious about what it’s like to be a journalist swamped with impersonal pitches, look at your LinkedIn inbox. Chances are many of your messages say “I’d like to connect with you.” Nothing about the message seems personal. This is how cut and paste pitches come across and it may be the reason your story is being overlooked. TIP: Remember to use a name in the pitch and research relevant articles they have written.
Your Pitch is not Interesting
Ask yourself, is the information you have fresh? Is there value? Is it something we’ve all heard before? When you start creating content, it’s important to think like a reporter and not necessarily like your client. Clients have information that they want to convey, and it’s your job to know what reporters care about. TIP: Get creative by considering the angle; maybe you can combine your topic with topical news if the story is not newsworthy on its own.
Your Pitch is Longwinded
Get to the point. Journalists read through hundreds of pitches before they land on one that piques their interest. A reporter should be able to scan through your pitch and quickly pick out the important information. Journalists don’t have time for fluff so leave the flowery language for the story after it is written. TIP: Make sure your pitch provides only the necessary information.
You’re Making the Journalist Work Too Hard
In this new digital age, reporters work differently. Many are not only writing their stories, but shooting the video, setting up the live shot, coming back to the newsroom to edit the video, and then jumping on air. When you send additional information in the pitch, like pictures or b-roll, place it in the email. Help the journalist view it quickly. In short, no attachments if you can help it. TIP: Don’t always look to the journalist to do something for you. Ask how you can help them.
Your Follow-Up is a Let-Down
Stay persistent AND know your worth. Gone are the days of “sorry to bother you.” Instead say, “Are you interested in the pitch I sent for XYZ. If so let me know what you need from me.” TIP: Remember reporters rely on you for information. You’re giving them the inside scoop.
You’re not Picking up the Phone
If your emails are going into the black hole of no return, pick up the phone and make voice contact. This cuts out the back and forth emails (if you’re even getting that far). TIP: Make sure what you say is well targeted and be prepared to leave a voicemail. Most of the time journalists won’t pick up, but when they have a chance to check their messages make sure the message you leave falls in line with the tips provided.
If You Remember Nothing Else, Remember This: It all comes down to pitching smarter. Journalists rely on public relations professionals for leads on interesting and credible sources when it comes to stories and information. Recently, a journalist replied to a pitch I sent him and gave feedback on what he was looking for:
When submitting your byline ask yourself this: 1. Is this the kind of detail I can get if I simply Google the concept. 2. How is the information I’m presenting specific to the audience (in this case technology)? What is in it for the audience? What are the things software executives specifically need to consider when managing their workforce culture across many different locations and countries?
You don’t always get valuable feedback from an editor, and I was pleased that both pitches I submitted were picked up. It’s not easy getting coverage, but with the right approach it can be done.