Public relations is different than it used to be. This isn’t news to anyone, of course. A great example is the fax machine. Ask any shop around the country how many of its employees can actually work one, and it’ll likely be only a few. The difference between PR in 2015 and just a decade or so ago are startling. There’s one aspect of the job that still exists and likely always will as long as organizations want to reach target audiences – the pitch. It’s a timeless skill and one that anyone with a dream of succeeding in public relations needs to master. There’s no way to do it, though, without some practice. No matter how comfortable someone is talking to strangers on the phone, a pitch isn’t like any other conversation. Full disclosure: I work in public relations as a content specialist. My very presence here is a sign of PR’s changing face. The written word has always played a role in the field, but it’s a bit different than it used to be in practice. I do, however, want to help my colleagues hone their pitching skills as much as I can. With that in mind, we had a little exercise recently. I and two other employees took on the role of reporters – the targets for those all-important pitches. We adopted personas common to the field and listened as our colleagues tried to entice us with the latest angles for their stories. The results were interesting. In my role as the reporter who was more than willing to listen but never really added much of anything to the conversation – we all know that type – I listened as my colleagues fed me detail after detail. The exercise was designed to result in some direct feedback from peers to guide progression in pitching and media relations best practices. Improving every day is a part of any job, even for long-time veterans. We all learned from the practice, and it was pretty fun, as well. The journalists PR and marketing pros try to reach are just as busy as we are. They want good leads for stories, and they want information as quickly as possible. Learning to deliver that information is just a matter of practice. Additionally, different reporters and publications need varying details to know if stories are fits for their readers. There’s never going to be one way to pitch a story. Practicing different techniques is a chance to see what feels natural, what works with different types of people and what results in the kind of direct conversation needed for a successful pitch that benefits your organization and the reporters with whom you want to form relationships. Think you can help Metis improve its pitching with experience? Check our Careers page and join our team.
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