Thursday, September 6, 2012
I Pitch, You Pitch.
I am often asked about what makes a good pitch. It’s a great question. A good PR pitch is a win-win—a win for a journalist, and a win for the publicist.
I, personally, am constantly pitching and being pitched. I have the opportunity to work with quite a few media networks on-air (CNN, ESPN, Spike, Today), so I’m pitching my own ideas every day. Over the years, I have learned quite a bit about what makes a good pitch and I’ve been able to develop a pretty streamlined system.
So I put together the following tips, which are based on what works for me in my space. While these are helpful to me, others might not agree. Whether you do or don’t, I’d love to hear from publicists or journalists about what works (or doesn’t work) for you.
1.) Get to the Point. Email is the new voicemail. Attach a solid paragraph and an image and call it a day. This is the same for a phone call as I always say “A to B.” Often in meetings I have about 15-20 seconds to sell my point. That’s honestly all it should take.
2.) If your product is not game-changing suggest a roundup. Too many products are too narrow and a pitch can come off as a commercial. Unless your product is game-changing it will be unlikely to receive a standalone TV segment. To put this in perspective here are a few products/devices that have received standalone segments: Jetlev jetpack, Ekso Bionics robotic exoskeleton suits, Proloquo2Go, an app for autism. It takes something really innovative to stand on its own. However, a round-up segment offers all kinds of opportunities to showcase cool stuff. For example, a segment for the Today Show I am working on is “Apps and Gadgets to Make Your Life Easier.” While some PR people fear that this is an effort to put their client up against the competition, that’s not the goal. The goal is to think creatively and outside the box.
3.) I don’t care how old your CEO is. If I had a dollar for every pitch that told me their founder is 25, I would be rich. Here’s the bottom line: I’m in my 20s and that means nothing to me. Show me a good product, end of story. Also, as I think about how much experience I gained every year in my twenties and how much I learned, I have to wonder, is being younger really added value?
4.) Early leads. Early leads help immensely. Yesterday’s news is old news. For TV it takes time to pitch to your team, secure a window and build your segment (sourcing video, stats, fact checks, etc.). Often I receive a pitch the night before embargoed until the following morning. This makes it very difficult. When you can offer a NDA days in advance that is much more helpful.
5.) We can do better, too. As journalists/new media we certainly have things we can do better, for example, our responses to pitches. Example: a publicist emailed me for three weeks straight to pitch me a new router. Finally, I just emailed back noting this just isn’t a fit for anything I am working on. I should have emailed back the first day. While not always feasible, passes/responses should promptly be given when possible to all personalized emails.
6.) Do your homework. Here is an example if a pitch I will not respond back to:
Dear KATIE –
Would you be interested in X GADGET for THE EARLY SHOW?
The Early Show has been off the air for over a year, which means someone isn’t doing his or her homework. I would never call or email someone or a company without doing research.
So in conclusion, those are my tips. What about you? Do you have pet peeves or particular rules when it comes to pitching/responding to pitches? I’d love to hear your thoughts.