Media relations advice: Please read my pitch

February 19, 2010

By Melissa
The pitch. It has evolved from a two-to-three-paragraph document sent via fax 15 years ago to a short, “to-the-point” message sent through e-mail, IM, Twitter, Facebook, etc. – I could go on for days. So which method is the right one when time is of the essence? That's for the contacts you're targeting to decide and for you to find out. Through the years, I have personally evolved from an e-mail pitcher to an “everything under the sun” pitcher to discuss anything from story ideas, briefing changes, materials delivery and breaking-news updates. The reason for this is that people get their information from different places, so it is important to adjust to whatever works best for the person with whom you are communicating.
So how do you choose your pitching method? Ask your contacts what they want. Research their communication techniques. Be that PR person your client is paying you to be.
For instance, our friendly contact David Greenfield, principal at STAnalytics and blogger at ZDNET's ThinkTank, has been an IM man from the second AOL IM became popular. He prefers to be pitched using e-mail or IM, and doesn't care if the PR person has a relationship with him or not - he just wants a good story.
As Mr. Greenfield says, “IM is easy, fast and direct. It forces all parties to get to the point – quickly. Let's be honest; you're busy and I'm busy, so neither of us wants to waste each other's time. IM lets us transact on a good story in the most efficient manner.”
And, that's really what we're all looking for…always. We want a story that has legs - one that doesn't scream “fluff” when it's written or pitched verbally. It's always been up to the PR person to figure out how their client sticks out from the hundreds of e-mails their contacts get every day. But, one thing comes to mind in this day and age after my conversation with Mr. Greenfield. What if the story alone is not the key to success? What if it's the persistence of the PR person through all these different communication channels? There could be an incredible number of good stories lost in the hundreds of e-mails with no follow-up or persistence from the PR person. Think of how different our job has become over the last few years. Instead of hordes of PR people sending e-mails for that one editorial calendar opportunity, there are now thousands of more outlets to pitch and get noticed.
Instead of evaluating the “relationships” PR people claim to have, vendors need to evaluate the PR firm's background and knowledge in communicating through different channels. It's a new age.
Succcesful PR professionals are those who have adapted to this age and are using the growing number of communications channels to get that good story out there.
Let's get real. It's not always about the relationship. It's about persistence and, most importantly, the story. Too many PR “experts” are forgetting that these days.

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