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Five commandments for making compelling PR Pitches

29th March 2016


Making compelling media pitches is no cake walk for PR Professionals, unless one’s gifted with exceptionally good writing and selling skills. A PR pitch can often be a tricky proposition as it is subjective by nature. Let’s say what appeals to one journalist or blogger, could be of little or no significance to another.

With journalists and bloggers, receiving scores of pitches and interview requests each day, how can budding millennial’s effectively raise the bar in ensuring fool-proof communication? How do PR practitioners successfully get reporter's hooked on to a story without making it appear like it’s being hard-sold? Given my decade long experience in the PR Industry, here are a few recommendations that may help fellow PR professionals in making compelling PR pitches that can convert to valuable earned media space.

Create a compelling headline
Always bear in mind that your subject line is the moment of truth, for any journalist or blogger scrolling through their email inbox. The odds of a reporter ignoring an email with a compelling headline are relatively few. Just relate this scenario to the hundreds of emails you are spammed with each day. You tactfully choose to open the ones 1) That are more relevant to what you are looking out for 2) The rest with highly compelling headlines. Ensure that your headline is good enough to catch the fancy of the recipient. Grammatical errors or typo's in your subject line are a big no! Also ensure there are no signs of (Fwd's) or (Re's) in your subject line that make it appear, as if your pitch is recycled.

Tell the story, don't sell the story
Journalist and Blogger's often tend to draw strong parallels between communication folks and direct marketing tactics used by FMCG and Insurance companies to hard sell product and services. Almost all of us are allergic to annoying sales people, who force a product or service upon us. It is also important to note that we often make our purchase decisions based on our immediate requirements. Some buying tendencies are inevitably driven by impulse. Ensure your written PR pitch narrates the story and does not sound like your trying to force a product or service down the journos throat. For this you will have to set the context by providing a background, share examples and later arrive at what you want to sell. Avoid keeping the context setting too long.  Reiterate how the product or service you are pitching will be of relevance to readers of a publication or blog.

Reinforce your pitch with credible Statistics / Data
Always attempt to firm up your pitch with data or statistics from a credible source. This can certainly add a lot of weight to your communication. Let us face it, even as laymen we are gullible to stories and articles that are supported by research and tangible evidence. Incorporating data in the form of info-graphics, pie-charts or diagrams, can really make a big difference in not just PR pitches but also Press Release and Opinion pieces.

The formula for verbal PR pitches
A PR pitch can sometimes be equivalent or similar to a random sales pitch. If you're good at it you will rock, if your average, chances are you will end up putting people off. There are two approaches to making compelling verbal pitches. You either make the pitch over a phone call, or you make it in person. Telephonic pitches can work well in two scenarios 1) You know the person you are pitching to 2) You're blessed with the gift of the gab (You are a naturally good Salesperson). Else meeting a journalist or blogger one-on-one is the most ideal way to sell your pitch. 

Tailor your pitches to make them relevant
Make it a point to conduct hygiene research to find out the brands, industries or sectors the journalist or Blogger you are approaching covers. This exercise also enables you to pre-empt distinct writing and reporting styles. Customizing your pitch in line with the above can save your breath and theirs as well.

The essence of effective pitching strongly resonates in using a balanced combination of the above techniques. Following these tips religiously will empower you to not only earn prime media space, but also respect and credibility in media and blogger fraternities.

Article written by Kevin Braganza, Ketchum Sampark
(The views expressed in the above article are personal)


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