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The Art of Perfect Pitching: 3 Steps to Appealing to the Journalist

Public Relations

Sales associates go through seminars and training for weeks, months, or even years on how to master the “perfect pitch”.     The pitch is the 30 seconds that an individual has to win over an audience, with the hopes of making a transactional sale, and sales people are the lucky ducks who get formally trained in that art.   A common misconception that most PR professionals make is maintaining the belief that just because their professional title isn’t ‘sales associate’ that they’re not selling something.  Wrong.  A pitch in public relations is selling an idea to the media.  Unfortunately for publicists, it’s a lot easier to sell a product or service than it is to sell an idea or story to a media outlet.  So, all the sales associates who receive all-expense paid trips to seminars on the art of the perfect pitch or sale, good for you, we publicists are jealous.  For all you publicists who long for someone to tell you how to get a perfect pitch going, I’m here for you.

Here are 3 steps to appeal to your buyer (journalists, producers and publishers):

  1. Offer many angles to your story: A BIG mistake that publicists make is creating one pitch for a client.  Stories evolve, and change, and newsworthiness is fluid. What may be considered newsworthy today might not be tomorrow.  Make sure you provide at least 3 story ideas per pitch when submitting a client’s pitch to a media source.
  2. Always start with a LEAD:  After you’ve identified a variety of story ideas on behalf of your client, you have to craft the introduction to the pitch.  Remember, you’re *selling* your client or idea to a media professional. We media professionals spend hours dedicated to learning how to perfect a lead.  Many publicists gloss-over the importance of a well-crafted lead, which is the introduction to the rest of your pitch.  Like with any idea that is to be transformed into a news story, the lead has to pop, be informative, and keep the audience’s attention. The lead has to take priority or else the rest of the pitch will be ignored.
  3. Close the Pitch with a call to action:  Great. So you’ve diversified your story ideas, created a pitch for each angle, and began the pitch with a spicy, sexy, and lead.  How do you end it? You ask the person to who you’re writing to DO something.  Pitches often lack a clear, decisive call- to-action.  ASK your media professional to pick up this story for a specific area of the publication or segment on a broadcast.  Another way to go about this is to relate your story with a story they have covered in the past and close on why your angle is different and how/ where it should be placed.  How can you expect the source to pick up your story if you don’t address where you believe it would be a good fit?

It’s simple.  To ‘sell’ your idea, and indirectly, your client to the media: diversify, captivate the source’s attention and make a request.  Publicists often fall short with the complete execution of a perfect pitch and just focus on the story idea itself.  Presenting an idea to a media source is like a chef presenting his or her signature meal. The entrée is obviously the most important part, but the success of the dining experience is only fully determined by the wine, appetizer entrée and dessert- just like your pitch it should be delicious and juicy from start to finish.

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