With the university year just about to end and aspiring PRs looking to learn the tricks of the trade, we thought it would be helpful to discuss one of the fundamentals of PR – pitching.
Any PR worth their salt should know how to pitch – however, some will do it well and others, unfortunately, won’t.
But if you follow our top-five tips, the chances are you will be one of the better ones…
Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone:
- It often seems a bit daunting picking up the phone to a journalist but it really helps when pitching in a story. Don’t be afraid if a journalist asks you a question which you don’t know the answer to – tell them you can find out the information and send it to them via email.
Give the journalist a story in a box:
- So it’s a lovely sunny day, you’re sat at your desk (which, judging by today’s weather – isn’t in the UK) thinking about going for drinks after work when your client phones you and says: “Oh my god, I have THE MOST amazing press release going out tomorrow. You seriously won’t believe it but we are issuing version 189.25 of our product! Isn’t it incredible? We should get reams and reams of coverage, don’t you think?” You instantly think – version 189.25 and they want reams and reams of coverage – *&%$. Firstly, don’t panic, the name is irrelevant, you need to find out about the benefits. What is different in version 189.25 than version 189.24? How will the user benefit from the upgrade? What gap or problem in the market does your product specifically tackle? One thing is for sure, if you call up a journalist and just pitch the product as version 189.25 – you will never get coverage. You need to create a story for them – explain why it is important and deserves coverage. Always remember: features tell – benefits sell.
Know your media:
- Unfortunately this is something which can take time but knowing your media is one of the most important parts of PR. If you’re given a press release which is a minor and very technical product update then you need to know which media it will be relevant to. Unless it’s a minor update to an iPhone 5 or very popular consumer product I certainly wouldn’t be calling up the nationals. The only way to get to know your media is by reading the newspapers and magazines you’re pitching to and understanding who writes about what. A little bit of schmoozing of course always helps – don’t be afraid to ask a journalist out with your team for drinks. This will do wonders for your relationship. Let’s be honest – everyone loves a free lunch.
Do a pre sell-in not a post sell-in:
- Journalists get hundreds of press releases every single day so why will they look at yours over the others? Always keep this in mind when issuing a release. If the release is important it is advisable to phone the journalist the day / a couple of days before and offer it to them under embargo – this will significantly increase your chances of securing coverage in tier one publications.
Never issue a press release in the evening – especially on a Friday:
- Always be vigilant about the time you are issuing a press release. Friday tends to be a bad day as a lot of journalists are out the office. It is also advised that you avoid all evenings. If you send a journalist a press release at 5.30 on a Thursday night, just as they’re rushing out the door, the chances are they will have forgotten about it by the time they arrive in on the Friday morning.
We hope you found out top-five tips helpful. PR is a fantastic industry to work in. It can be slightly crazy but it’s full of surprises and keeps you on your toes.
Good luck with your pitching!