Pitching is a vital part of Public Relations and includes building relationships and appeal for the benefit of the client. I came across a post called, 9 Ways to Avoid a Pitch Slap from Valley PR Blog by Dan Wool who handles corporate communications at Arizona Public Service (APS) and it describes two things that are most important in the creation of successful media pitches; consideration and customization. By being considerate and customizing attention for particular journalists they will become more receptive to pitches, which ultimately builds trust. Establishing trustworthiness among the PR community and media outlets is important to your client’s success. Although some PR practitioners might not know a lot about journalists they are pitching to it’s beneficial to consider the publication or station they work for and gauge what works best for them. Consider who the journalist is as well as what he or she likes and customize your pitch accordingly.
Wool suggests nine ways to make considerate and customized pitches:
1. It’s not about you or your client – it’s about the journalist.
2. Actually read the publication.
3. Never pitch the editor.
4. Read the journalist’s recent material.
5. One pitch per outlet.
6. Their time is short, so make your pitch short.
7. Make it exclusive.
8. Let the product/service speak for itself.
9. No form letters.
I strongly suggest visiting the blog post and reading the in-depth explanations for each idea. Wool includes good examples on how each step can be customized in a way that garners positive reactions from journalists. I think it is advantageous to understand how pitching can be made to work for you. These nine suggestions can contribute to the success of PR practitioners as well as their clients.
I’m sure I’m not the only American sick and tired of hearing the phrase “bailout” repeatedly throughout the day. In these harsh economic times, it’s nearly impossible to escape it. For lack of a better way to describe it, I don’t get along with numbers well (I’m a journalism student, I can’t help it). In an effort to better understand the whole “bailout” issue, I went googling and came across an article on PRWeek.com about the automobile industry and the bailout they are trying to convince the government they need. “Big Three can learn from comms mistakes” talks about Ford, GM, and Chrysler and their economic issues.
The issue seems to be that while the “Big Three” is asking for an enormous amount of money to fix the problems they are facing, the companies are lacking in communication with their most important customers, those living in Middle America. Instead of communicating with the public as to what they need the money for and how it will be used to their advantage, the Big Three has avoided communication and instead the CEOs are traveling by private planes to meetings. If you are in such deep economic trouble, why would you choose to fly private instead of commercial like the rest of the country?
For someone who doesn’t understand money in the greatest sense (I’m not naive, I just don’t do economics), this makes less sense than calculating supply and demand curves. If you want to entrust the people of the country as well as the government with saving the financial well-being of your corporation, why would you not communicate those goals? I am a Ford driver, I have heard nothing of the issues they face. I’m not about to support a bailout that is going to drive our economy further into oblivion if I don’t know why it’s happening. I’m usually quite satisfied with Ford, but after reading this article, I’m more than a little annoyed.
I think this is definitely a PR issue considering communication is at the forefront of it. What do you think? Should corporations be asking for help without going into detail about their troubles? Should we just assume that they will be doing the right thing with our money? I find it difficult to believe anyone would think that, but I’m interested to hear what others think.
Being able to give a strong presentation is one of the key factors to pitching a PR campaign. There are quite a few amazing public speakers out there for us to learn from, Tom Peters being one of them. I found a blog called Tom Peters on Presentations where he gives many useful hints on how to give a good presentation. Many people bring up the ability to tell a good story as a good characteristic to have when presenting. One thing Peters offers as a tip is to “CONNECT! CONNECT! CONNECT!” Sometimes I think it is hard to really connect with the audience, especially when you are trying to remain professional. What are some ways to really connect with the audience? How can you appeal to their emotions but still get your point across? Maybe this presentation by Tom Peters can help give some insight. It’s called Educate for a Creative Society.
So, I stumbled upon an interesting blog this week about journalists giving public relations advice to paying clients. This practice has been brought to the forefront of ethical issues as of late due to Dan Abrams leaving broadcast journalism behind to start a consulting firm. He will continue to stay on the NBC payroll, however, as an outside contributor.
Is it right for an Arizona Republic writer to tell a business how to get covered by the Arizona Republic, and then be paid for it? Doesn’t that feel like insider trading or something? At the same time, I have heard journalist tell PR people what works at their media outlet. Channel 3 here in Phoenix even sends out a tip sheet to PR professionals on how to get your story covered. I think what sends the situation of them giving this information out into sticky territory is that they are getting paid for it and are specifically catering to a clients needs. This is in contrast to telling general PR practitioners who may have a number of clients. As a client in Phoenix, wouldn’t you prefer to hire someone who knows the ins and outs of the Arizona Republic and may be able to affect its coverage?
This is a hot topic among professionals, some of whom are particularly vocal in their outright disagreement with the practice. But, before quickly writing it off as unethical, there is another side. We are in a journalism school, taking journalism classes and some would argue that we are journalists. I attend Society of Professional Journalist functions and professionals act like I am trying to steal their secrets.
Maybe I am.
As I sat down to write this blog post tonight I had no idea what topic I wanted to delve into. Having attended the side-panel earlier today I was inspired by the notion of how the mediascape is changing and how we as professionals cannot ONLY change with it, we must also be able to use it to our advantage. Interested in how the future of public relations was viewed by others, I did a quick search and found a post on Edelman’s blog called, “Is Public Relations Ready for Discontinuous Change?”. The interesting thing about many of the articles I found when I ran my search was that they all discuss the changing media landscape. This is a time where people are utilizing tools like Google, Tivo, and online news services. In an era where it has ever been easier to create and consume information what does the future of PR look like? Most of us will be graduating within the next year and we’ve got to recognize that with all the changes occurring in our field and in the economy in general increased emphasis will be placed on cost to businesses. Edelman argues that one way to take advantage of the emerging media scape is to use the web to our advantage. We can have direct conversations with key stakeholder groups, garner feedback, and influence many through blogs. Edelman also argues for the idea of experimenting and even considers adding video clips to press releases as they are sent out. My question is, understanding the influence that using the web can have, why don’t many companies have blogs? And why don’t more PR companies automatically turn to the web when coming up with tactics for their clients?
Amy Tan talks about our inner creativity in this presentation. I thought this would be beneficial for a good presentation to review, but also to get ideas on how to be creative in our life, which can help when you’re putting together your presentations. Amy had personal stories to keep the audiences attention as well as humorous slides. She was personable and even gave personal accounts as to past experiences in her life. This presentation is one to keep in mind when you begin on yours. She also talks about our inner creativity and where she believes we get it from. While she does make comments perpetuating the stereotype of her own culture, she still delivers a great presentation. Keep in mind to be mindful of what you say and how you say it. I also noticed that the camera zones in on the audience. They are attentive and genuinely interested in what she has to say. Can you think of ways to be creative and set yourself apart from other presentations? Do you think adding stories and humor is beneficial to a presentation?
While browsing the blogosphere, I came across a blog posted on The New PR, titled “Why it pays to be a geek in PR.” The title alone captured my attention, thus I read on.
In this blog, Ryan Anderson explains why it is crucial to have a thirst for knowledge in the field of PR. He compares PR to a game of chess, pointing out that in order to create an effective strategy, you must know how all the tools work together, just like in order to win a game of chess, it is valuable to know which way the pieces move in relation to each other.
Anderson offers helpful advice for those of us soon to be graduates breaking into the PR scene. He says that our best investment in our future is being a geek, which translates to understanding all the facets of PR and mastering all the skills incorporated in PR, not just being an expert in one area.
As graduation, and inevitably the real world, inches closer, I find this rather simple suggestion incredibly useful. In my past internships, I have interacted with PR professionals whose resume may be stellar, but only in one particular field. I have come across industry leaders who specialize in a particular area of PR and leave the rest to the other experts who excel in different areas. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think that having a broader understanding and mastery of all skills in PR rather than just focusing on a specific component and exceeding at it, is much more beneficial to you, your employer and your career.
What is your opinion on this? Do you find it more benefitting in PR to dedicate your expertise to one particular area of the industry, or do you feel that expanding your skillset to all fields of PR is more advantageous?