A large portion of a public relations professional’s job continues to be media relations. This means we are always on the lookout for relevant and timely news hooks to help pitch our clients and their products to the media. But, every once and a while, you read a story about a really bad pitch and shake your head: “Great, another bad apple has ruined the reputation of the whole bunch.”
Recently, an organic skin care and home product company sent out a pitch to the media, attempting to capitalize on the oil spill in the Gulf by pitching its oil-based skin care product. The news hook/tie in? “Oil has been getting a terrible reputation – but what about oil for your skin?” (Ugh).
You don’t have to be a PR pro to figure out that the oil spill is currently the biggest item in the news, and unlike the skin care company, a few brands have been able to successfully leverage the oil spill. For example, Dawn launched its ad campaign highlighting that its product helps clean animals affected by oil spills days before the BP spill. This was just by chance, but even if the company had been included in a story about the spill, it’s at least relevant. It’s providing a solution to a problem related to the oil spill.
Generally, it’s a good idea to try to tie into current events, news and surveys, as a way to showcase a company’s expertise. But before moving forward with an idea, there are three “R’s” to consider:
1. Relevance. Make sure your pitch is relevant to the news item. If you have to use more than two sentences to explain the relation of your pitch to the hot topic, it’s time to move on to the next idea.
2. Resource. To leverage a news item, offer resourceful information or expert comment. If it seems like your pitch is really exploiting the news item to get your company in the media versus trying to get useful info out to the masses, file it away.
3. Respect. It’s called media relations for a reason, and those relationships are important to develop and sustain. If the pitch has little news value, respect the producer or reporter’s time and protect your relationship by hitting delete.