PR professionals share their toughest media pitches!

We have all been through it. The story of the client is a tough one to pitch to the media. Yet you try , sometimes succeeding, sometimes not.

PRmoment India spoke to PR professionals to find out what was the toughest story they pitched to the media and how they made it work.

Falguni Khemka, PR consultant  with Jajabor Brand Consultancy says, " We were working with a VC. We were also working with another client who happened to be the first investment of this fund. Our mission was to announce the fund as well as to do the funding announcement on the same day. The launch of the fund was technically no longer a piece of news as the founder had already spoken to a media about it and that story was out a year ago.

Here the new bit of information was the formal funding announcement but we had a liability.  The goal was to create individual distinctive reportage for both the fund and the firm receiving the funding. The challenge became tougher as both of them had the same target media to engage with on the same day."

How did Khemka solve this? "We built a data-driven narrative for the fund  and also created a  forward-looking mission statement that the fund was working towards that really helped us to carve an individual pitch while having no new element to that announcement. At the same time, we created a distinct narrative for the food-based startup that we were working with elaborating on their unique vision and potential to scale, making sure that the funding announcement was not overshadowed by the fund announcement. Results were separate PTI flashes for both of them and coverages across startup, mainlines and business media with individual visibility for both stories spaced a day later to avoid counteracting one announcement from another."

For Tanya Shandilya, account manager with Kaizzen PR, the toughest pitches to crack were related to the gaming sector.

She explains, "The media universe that is interested in the massively growing gaming sector today didn't exist 3-4 years back. The media wasn't aware of the sector, didn't understand the details of it, and the very few who did had their beat specific stories to write about.To handle this educating the media about the sector has been key. Organising FAM trips, sharing trusted industry reports, giving a hands-on experience of playing these games, has, however, aided the pitching process."

Neha Bahri, communication consultant for the emerging alternative to TikTok, Chingari says, " Many times I have faced a situation when I could not deliver as per the client expectations. Whether it was a campaign or it was a general industry story. Currently, I am handling Chingari, for which people think it's very easy as the Chinese app ban has happened and media would be after the brand. Well, that's not true. One needs to understand when Chingari was first pitched to the media there was no government initiative of banning these 59 apps." 

Adds Bahri,  "As usual, I approached some of the media and I got a prompt responses from them we do not cover  such stories. A pitch was created for Chingari about how this is a home grown option to TikTok. We showcased the number of downloads we had. That worked, especially in the aftermath of the ban."

Sunny Devraj Suryavanshi, PR Manager, Carmine Communications LLP shares his experience. with tough pitches, " It was my first job and I was new to PR, still struggling to learn the ropes and figuring out what metal the psyche of a journalist is made of.  I was handling a client which was a Tier 2 city based startup in the business of iris recognition technology. While I would reach out to almost everybody hoping that there would be some takers for this rookie's story, the biggest rebuttal I would face was - "Is your client listed?" - Which would sound like a bad omen and it would definitely dampen the spirits. My client was oblivious to how PR works (and so was I!) and I would be running like a chicken without a head behind journalists.

Finally I tasted success when a veteran journalist from a reputed financial publication decided to show some interest in my pitch. A classic case of David and Goliath, and I am sure a lot of us from the PR fraternity would have faced this situation during the early days of our career. The strategy that helped me out here was the fact that instead of just two or three USPs, I gave him all the ten that I had in my bag and that tweaking of tactics worked well. 

The dope that helped me here was that I had happened to read an article at that time where I learnt that an advertisement or a commercial that lasts for 60 seconds has more impact and recall value among consumers than the one that just lasts for just 5-10 seconds. Not that the two or three things which I used earlier in my pitch were the best of all, but what made the difference is that I had packaged all the ten USPs and presented the same in such a manner that the journalist could not have declined featuring my client.Thanks to that, I cracked a centre spread double pager in the publication's weekly Sunday magazine and that's a moment that I will always remember from the time my PR journey began!"

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