When discussing a client’s products or services with a journalist, constructing a comprehensive, captivating pitch is vital for securing opportunities. There are several points that are vital to consider when pitching a story idea and are applicable whether we selling in an idea over the telephone or in an email.
Here are our top tips for creating the perfect pitch:
1. Consider the time
At a time when cash-strapped editorial teams are being streamlined, we can generally assume that our contact is time poor; therefore it is important to make our pitches short and snappy. They need to be enticing and relevant; getting straight to the point rather than waffling on! This initial pitch then, hopefully, paves the way for a longer dialogue incorporating the finer details on our clients.
Before even picking up the phone, we know the editorial deadlines; our due diligence ensures we do not call at a bad time. When speaking to a journalist on the phone, we always begin the conversation by ascertaining if it is a good time to talk. This is because we regularly talk to journalists who have back-to-back interviews or have pressing deadlines. If this is the case, we call back at a better time. Following up on email is also important and this gives us the opportunity to share further information that could not be communicated on the call.
2. Knowing our audience
Our house style is very targeted; we identify a target audience to achieve the commercial objective of a client, assess the relevant media and then target the media titles and slots that we know are relevant. This means we know the various media titles inside out. The only way to do this is to read them all the time, be it online or in print.
Journalists receive a huge number of story ideas and it is widely known in the industry that the vast majority are sent without proper consideration.
Journalists often switch off when they feel they are being sold a weak idea or an idea that is not in-line with the publication’s target audience. For example, a watercolour painting class press trip is not going to appeal to magazines read by mothers with young children. I’ll never forget a journalist who wrote for a weekly women’s magazine, with a prime audience of 35 – 65 year olds, telling me that a PR had pitched her a clubbing holiday resort in Magaluf! However tempting a press trip in the sun was, the journalist had refused that unfortunate pitch on the grounds that she would not be able to write about a piece as it did not appeal to the magazine’s target demographic.
3. Make ‘em laugh
Finally, we always bear in mind that journalists are human. By incorporating humour, courtesy and some personality into our pitches we hopefully are more likely to be warmly received and our clients remembered for future opportunities.
While we have a journalist’s attention, it is also worth asking what they are working on next to see if the topic works for our clients and then make a note to get in touch with them for future opportunities. In this way, we develop relationships with key contacts and ensure that they automatically consider us and our client when writing a relevant article.
By bearing all these points in mind, we are able to deliver strong, on-target editorial results for our clients, in media titles that reach their key commercial audiences. What’s more, our approach means that we are savvy with our time and can focus on generating even more opportunities as well as building strong-long relationships with journalists.