Pitching to press requires a lot of research and personalization.Last night, we helped coordinate a first-of-its-kind event for the Publicity Club of New England – a speed pitching panel. The idea was to give PR pros a very quick timeframe to get their story angle across and try to peak a journalist’s interest.

The journalist would then supply feedback on what worked, what didn’t and what they’d like to see more of to capture their attention in the future.

We brought in six top reporters from the area:

– Barb Darrow from GigaOM

– Brandon Butler from Network World

– Shamus McGillicuddy from SearchNetworking.com

– James Denman from SearchSoftwareQuality.com

– Steve Annear from Boston Magazine

– Rob Westervelt from CRN

At the end of the night, they joined forces in a panel to collectively educate the PR pros in attendance on best pitching practices for the technology sector and beyond.

Some great tips came out of this session:

1. Customers, Customers, Customers

Reporters want to speak to your customers! This shouldn’t be new news, but was really hammered home during the panel discussion. A customer pitch on a topic that’s of interest will always outweigh a vendor pitch – bar none.

2. Do Away with Blanket Pitches

The journalists all agreed that they could tell when a pitch was blasted to everyone under the sun and not specifically tailored to them. They want unique ideas, something they may have the opportunity to write up first – and, no, that doesn’t include your client’s point announcement or new API functionality. Sure, they may integrate that as a line item in a broader topic, but PR pros should be pushing the trend behind announcements to get attention.

3. Keywords Can be Deceiving

Just because a reporter wrote something five years ago on your client’s same topic does not mean they are going to cover it again. Even if they wrote something similar just yesterday, they may not have plans to write about that again for another year! But, the more important thing to look for is not that their article covered something similar, but the broader point of the piece and how that connects to their beat. That keyword you’re hunting for may be being applied in a complete different way, rendering your pitch on the same keyword irrelevant. So, do your homework beyond that one article that your Google search brought up.

4. PPT Presentations, Yay or Nay?

With some differing opinions on this one, many agreed PowerPoint presentations are nice to have as background material, but should never be walked through slide by slide on a call. And, even if it’s the first time your client is speaking with this particular journalist, still skip the company history, market positioning and executive backgrounds… just get straight to the issue or risk them completely zoning out to catch up on other sub-par pitches flooding their inbox!

Want to learn more?

In The Evolution of PR, Content Marketing and Blogging, we cover:

– The ongoing changes in the world of PR
– The principles of content marketing for tech companies
– Important blogging strategies
– How to use press releases for more than just brand-building