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The perfect PR pitch: up close and personal

Incoming: there is no such thing as the perfect pitch. Even with the right words in front of you, THE scoop of the day or the most exclusive interview EVER, you can still stumble on a journalist in a bad mood (sorry not sorry), your news worth might drop below zero when the competition beats you by the second or your boldly written and funny pitch might be overlooked because of simply bad timing. But if you are looking for anything close to perfection, here is a résumé of a few straight forward, easy to use tips to inspire you as a PR professional. The rest is up to you!

“Insert name, copy-paste”. Hello Cathy! Who is Cathy? Don’t you just hate those emails where you are clearly the victim of shameless copy-pasting? Just don’t do it. Check these “three P’s” before continuing your pitch.

  • Person: Do I have the right person in front of me? Is he or she the specialist I need?
  • Personal: What do I know about my contact? What can I ask him or her that would be appreciated?
  • Personalize: Think about a proper hook or angle to make your pitch top-notch!

A store opening is not a store opening

Our most important task as a PR professional is empathy. We have to take the mindset of the journalist and consumer into consideration. When a company launches a new product or opens a new store, it is a success story for the brand but what is the relevance for the press? So a story opening is not JUST a store opening. It could be a company creating 200 new jobs, a crazy waiting line of fans waiting for their limited edition sneakers, or a story about a CEO gone zero-waste guru. You catch my drift?

The bare necessities

So now that we got that mindset right, how do we actually start writing this mind-blowing pitch? Here is an overview of the vital elements for your e-mail.

Title

It all starts with an attention-grabbing title. It has to set the tone. Don’t make it too long to be smartphone proof! I like to write my titles at the very end when I have finished determining the main message.

Intro and personal note

In the intro, you briefly mention why you are addressing him or her. Don’t forget to ask how that person is doing, let him know that you found him through a super cool article, to thank her for a previous publication, etc. This seems like a no brainer but sometimes we seem to forget the basics.

Find that personal touch that can pull them in. Sometimes a little humor does the charm.

Value proposition

What’s in it for them? Creating relevance is key. Why would your contact write something about your event or product? Why is it relevant to them and their target audience?

Call 2 action

Action is reaction, right? Make it concrete. Don’t be too non-committal and encourage action. An interview? Confirm attendance? Etc.

Outro

To thank someone or to wish them a nice weekend that goes without saying. Let them know that you are available for more info and give them one last reason why, is the perfect sweet ending to your pitch. And finally, end in the style. Your closing line is not an exact science, but don’t forget to write it!

The best pitch is when you are not pitching

A journalist does not only want to hear from you for a product launch. Any person who enters the office is worth a smile or a simple hello. Is someone you know calling in for a colleague? Chip in and ask them how they are doing. Making small talk is 50 % of PR 😉

A few days after sending out that pitch, you can consider doing a follow-up but be careful. Recent studies showed that 60 % of the journalists can only handle 1 follow-up mail or call. Other insights from that survey also showed the worst pitching offenses as they ranked email pitch pet peeves from most offensive to least offensive. Bad research, irrelevant to their beat and too many follow-ups were the main pitch no-go’s.

Even though it might be a bizarre moment in time for PR professionals, don’t forget that the journalist at the other end of the line, watching your mail pop up in their mailbox, is still looking for relevant stories and content. The rules and the basics stay about the same, crisis or no crisis. So go find the positive messages and translate those messages into positive stories.

As always the proof is in the pudding. If you want to see how we translate theory into action, then visit our CASES.

Written by Margo Van Raemdonck – PR Manager at MMBSY

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