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The art of media pitching is equivalent to that of a sommelier's perfect pairing of a 1976 Montelena Chardonnay with Steamed Mussels prepared with White Wine, Tarragon, Shallots, Butter, and Grilled French Bread (a recipe from Chef Bobby Flay). While a sommelier may hone his/her skills at a fine restaurant, a PR professional's job is to hone their skills by pitching their clients.
Sommeliers make a living pairing wines with foods that bring out the essence of each flavor. PR professionals are no different; we pair our clients products and services with publications and media outlets that serve a readership who find value in their content. Thus, the trick to a perfect pitch is crafting a message to the reader that displays a profound understanding of that publication's value and their audience's essence.
Six Tips for the Perfect Pitch
Being a great media pitcher isn't about knowing every editor, blogger and reporter in the universe. It's about pairing your client's product/service pitch to the right media contact. After all, a publication isn't going to write an article about your client, but a reporter may.
- KISS, Keep it simple silly! You may have heard this before but here I go again. I highly recommend (as do other PR pros and media personnel) to keep your pitches short and sweet. You can accomplish this by incorporating bullet points of no more than 15 words each after your initial paragraph. I know it's tempting to send a 500 word email pitch because you want to include every detail, but don't. A pitch is meant to entice a journalist and spark their interest not put them to sleep.
- Proofread your pitches before you send them out. I can not stress this enough. As a practice, I draft my pitches a day before I plan to send them out. Allowing the pitch to rest overnight provides enough time away from the document in order to review with it with fresh eyes the following day.
- Tap into your inner creativity. Too many pitches are just self-promoting commentary that rarely solve a problem. If you can creatively tie your pitch to a current event in a creative way your pitch will go much further. Feel free to make references to current events, popular books, celebrities, etc.
- Send your pitch to the best person. Locating the correct media contact for your pitch is relatively easy these days. If you are interested in submitting a pitch to a particular publication you can visit their website or pick-up a copy if they are in-print. There are paid services available such as Cision, Burrelle's Luce, Vocus, and MyMediaInfo that also provide access to media contacts.
- To call or not to call. The times are changing. Media professionals are now available at any time, yet they prefer email and social media pitches over phone calls. While their 24/7 availability may seem like a godsend for PR professionals, you have to remember that the media are people to. Like you, they have deadlines, families, issues and vacations. If you can avoid calling at inappropriate times and calling and/or emailing to ask if they have received your pitch, believe me it would be in your best interest.
- Editorial calendars are your best friend. They let you know when and what your intended publication will be writing about for an entire year. Feel free to use them to target your pitches.
Regine J. Nelson is founder and principal of Allure Marketing Communications. Allure specializes in small business, consumer products, nonprofit and start-up PR. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.