Approach the media right with these quick pitch tips

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles

Business owners should constantly be on the look out for new opportunities to get press for their business. Unfortunately, even some of the most seasoned public relations managers can fall flat when trying to submit a pitch to get publicity.

Here are some quick tips to get you and your business noticed:

  • Never pitch yourself. Pitch the issue that you are an expert on. Provide outside facts and stats.
  • Never pitch your product. Pitch the problem your product solves. Writers want answers and solutions…not an infomercial.
  • Give them the story. You can write an AP style story instead, framing yourself as the expert. It’s more likely to get published directly.
  • Be flexible. Not every pitch works every time. Be ready to speak on any number of angles relating to your message directly.
  • It’s always better to submit your pitch yourself. A number of PR agencies will submit on your behalf, but most writers prefer dealing with a source directly. They have deadlines and don’t have time to play the email game just to get a quote or information.

Remember, when you’re responding to queries on sites like HARO, Pitchrate, Profnet, and SourceBottle, writers are looking for experts to add to their stories. The very first paragraph should be a direct answer to their query. Then you can tell them about your expertise and business.

Here’s an example of a query:

Looking for the best Entrepreneurial conferences and trade shows in the US and Canada. Something like Start-up Weekend, or any other events where entrepreneurs can connect, share ideas, and learn about the business of being in business.

Here’s an ineffective pitch for that query:

I invite you to interview Joanne Dandelion, the president and founder of Dandelion Communications Inc., a full service public relations agency in Washington DC, specializing in image consulting, branding and crisis management. She will be the perfect source for your article.

Ms. Dandelion will be part of a panel, “How to Get the Attention of the Media,” on Jan. 30 at the esteemed Entrepreneur Innovation Summit in Jacksonville, Florida for powerful entrepreneurs. On the panel, she will give business leaders the communications and public relations skills and advice, such as how to improve and expose your brand, needed to become a successful business, not matter how large or small.

Ms. Dandelion is a Golden Seed Award honoree from DC Women in Communications. In 1998, she received the Media Award from the American Academy of Nursing for securing a Dateline feature called “The Doctor Will See You Now.” She served as Olympia Dukakis’s press secretary for eight years and has also worked on image campaigns for talented, dynamic women like Emmy-award winning actress Susan Lucci and award winning broadcast journalist Robbin Roberts.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

This is a “bad pitch” because

  1. It doesn’t address the query
  2. It plainly is self-promotional
  3. It’s just way too long

In contrast, here’s a good pitch:

The Entrepreneur Innovation Telesummit (www.thisisafakesite.com) is a yearly event that occurs each January in Jacksonville, Florida. It covers a wide array of topics including selecting a product, marketing, and hiring a team. The Telesummit draws around 50,000 entrepreneurs and offers over 100 presentations.

JoAnne Dandelion will be part of a panel, “How to Get the Attention of the Media,” at the Telesummit, and has widely praised this event as being the best entrepreneur conference in the southeast. You can contact her at www.fictionalwebsite.com for more information about her opinions and experiences with various conferences. She’d be happy to help you out!

This pitch directly addresses the writer’s need, while showing the contact has expertise in the field. It’s brief, to-the-point, and makes me interested in speaking with the contact.

Remember that writers have deadlines, but those deadlines may change. While it is important to get them the information they need as quickly as possible, that doesn’t mean that the article will be published immediately. Their editor could decided not to run it for a few months. On more than one occasion, I was contacted nearly a year after I submitted a pitch for an article!  Just be your most friendly, helpful self when working with the media. In turn, they’ll be able to help you promote your business and get more publicity!

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