For me, one of the most exciting elements about media relations is flexing my creative muscle to craft the perfect story idea. A pitch so perfectly developed and timed it provides my precious media contacts with something they can really sink their teeth into editorially – while surpassing everyone’s expectations thanks to amazing results.
As a former journalist I’ve seen my share of good and bad pitches. Developing the perfect pitch is an art form. To build and deliver the perfect pitch there are some key criteria you need to keep in mind to stay ahead of the pack to make sure your pitch gets noticed and accepted, including:
Listen, Listen & Listen – as PR folks we usually have a million ideas constantly swirling around in our heads. But, when participating in a briefing it is important to get the full picture, fully digest the information, and then build your pitch. Often times as PR people we get so inspired and are under such tight deadlines we jump right in before listening to the whole concept and risk missing those hidden gems or nuggets of information that can make the pitch truly unique.
Why Should Media Care? – understand what’s hot and trending in the media’s world. Think about how your story idea fits within this scope and how it can stand out among the myriad of other pitches. Lots of media these days are looking for experiential opportunities – so, good to think about what unique experiences you can offer them to report on. One of my all-time favourite experiential pitches was during Toronto Fashion Week when our client, L’Oréal Paris was the official beauty sponsor. We offered up one of our beauty writers the exclusive opportunity to come backstage and be a ‘makeup artist’ and work alongside L’Oréal Paris Beauty Team’s Artistic Director, Eddie Malter to create a makeup look on one of the models for a designer’s runway show.
The beauty look selected happened to be one of the most intricate runway beauty looks Eddie created that season for the 30+ participating Canadian designers! So, it was a real ‘beauty challenge’ for our writer. Not only was it a fun experience for us and the writer – but, it enabled the writer to really experience what it was like working backstage during Canada’s premier fashion week and the time and effort involved creating a designer beauty look moments before the model hit the runway. The editorial that resulted from this is still one of my absolute favourites! Golden Girls: BeautyGeeks Makes Up at Gaudet, LG Fashion Week Fall 2010
Be a Leader not a Follower – be careful you don’t jump on the bandwagon of a topic, which has been written about over and over again by media – and, where you don’t have anything new to add – or you may be positioning yourself as a follower not a leader! Build a pitch illustrating how you are the ‘first’ or how you added something interesting or unique to a particular topic, which is currently top-of-mind and trending with media.
Know your Audience – nothing is more frustrating for media then being sent a pitch that doesn’t relate to their beat or focus of interest. Know your audience and what they are writing about, what’s important to them – and what they have previously covered. If you’re not familiar with the media you should research them before pitching them to ensure you are providing relevant and topical information. Providing pitches that illustrate you know the media you are pitching to is half the battle. Media in turn will appreciate it and be more apt to give your pitch the time of day. To this day I can still recall a few outlandish media pitches that came across my inbox when I was a journalist that left me shaking my head.
Get to the Point – You know how busy you are – well the majority of media are even busier! Time is precious so develop a pitch that is concise, to-the-point yet newsworthy and timely. Your pitch has to stand out but not overwhelm media with novel-worthy info. Plus if it’s too long or wordy you risk them not reading it at all. There’s something to be said about keeping it simple and media will appreciate you providing the key information rather than overloading them with fancy PR jargon and over-used terms such as revolutionary, next-generation or innovative.