PR 101: The “Perfect Pitch” Does it Even Exist?

NOTE: THIS POST IS A DAY LATE BECAUSE I WAS (IRONICALLY) PITCHING THE LAST 3 DAYS SORRY.

In my (ahem, short) time as an intern and even longer time in the marketing and PR world, I have pitched. A lot. Like a WHOLE lot. So when it came time to write today’s #PR101 blog post, I immediately thought back to the hours of pitching I did at work yesterday and then I saw this GIF (over at 99 Problems But a Pitch Ain’t One):

When a media contact responds to your email and then you realize it is just an out-of-office note..

At first you’re like:

Then you’re like:

and I was sold.

Today, I am going to be talking about the “perfect pitch” (this has NOTHING to do with singing, you’re on the wrong blog, but stick around!), an elusive, one-page document that will secure coverage with outlets from the top tier media (New York Times, anybody?) to legions of mommy bloggers. The “perfect pitch” is like The Chupacabra: it’s hairy, eats goats and speaks Spanish…no wait, IT DOESN’T EXIST, there are pretty good pitches and very good pitches. In my effort to make YOU better PR pros, I have gathered some tips for pitching (with sources and my own 2 cents) from around the web, hope you enjoy:

  1. The Subject is EVERYTHING. This #PR101 tidbit was recently posted by my idol the DKNY PR Girl “The subject matters. Better make it good, or it may be the only thing they read.” that advice? It’s golden kiddies, think about it: a top tier journalist gets hundreds of e-mails a day from PR pros begging for a story and they can’t open and read everything, so you need to make an impression & in the e-mail, the subject line is the first impression. Make it interesting, related to their content and fresh, and you’re already one step closer.
  2. Please Do Some RESEARCH. In this day and age, journalists are more accessible than ever; they have blogs and Twitter accounts and Linkedin profiles and what have you; in a matter of minutes you can have their preferred name, where they work and what they cover. You can read through a few old articles and get a feel for them, this way you can customize your pitch; and when I say “customize” I mean “tweak” it would take a long time to rewrite dozens of pitches and interns don’t have that time, but you can change a few key things and make your pitch stand out from the crowd.
  3. Make it Timely. I got some great advice from a professor this past year: he looked at a pitch I was writing for work and he read it, took his glasses off and sighed then he said the 2 words no (aspiring) publicist EVER wants to hear, “who cares?” it was like slap in the face, but he was right. Give your target a reason to care about the story, a new angle, a compelling interview opportunity, an exclusive, SOMETHING. One way to make it stick is by making your pitch timely: this just means you find an angle in your pitch that relates to current events. This is where media monitoring comes in (an upcoming post in the VERY near future!); knowing what’s going on in the world helps in PR in more ways than one and pitching is one of those ways.
  4. It’s Okay to Be Human. As an intern/entry-level associate, you may be afraid to inject a little bit of yourself into a pitch, but I’ll wager a guess and say one of the reasons you even got into PR is because of your amazing charisma, so use it! Be personable, humorous, fun even, but keep it professional. There’s no reason you have to sound like a PR robot and most journalists will probably be turned off by that anyway. So be you, a professional you, of course.
  5. Finally, Some Housecleaning. Okay, the last “tip” is a small collection of practical tips that are kind of basic, but we’re all newbies here, so I’m gonna say them (roll your eyes all you want, random person on your 5th internship!): Keep the pitch concise, be respectful and polite, SPELL CHECK, honesty is the best policy and remember: it’s OK if they don’t respond. I mean, you want them to respond, but I used to get sick to my stomach when journalists didn’t respond and I admit, I still get bummed, but I am learning to handle it better.

Here’s a “non-tip” even IF the journalist responds “no thanks” it might still be a chance to drum up a relationship (remember, PR is about relationships), I always respond, “no problem, I would love to keep you informed of other stories in the future, can’t wait to work with you!” or something like that. This is a learning process, and the best publicists ALL started somewhere, you might just be at that “somewhere”.

XOXOXOXO, Jess As-PRing

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