Tag Archive | pitching

17 Links to Bookmark So You Can Pitch Like a Pro

Pitching is integral to any young PR professional’s career. Despite it’s importance, many of my peers (myself included) find this to be the most challenging aspect of our profession. The only way to truly get better is to have experience, and many companies have policies that don’t allow interns to pitch.

So how do we learn about pitching without practicing? Doing a lot of research and reading numerous case studies helped me grow more comfortable when I first started doing media and blogger outreach.

Over the months, I’ve collected quite a few posts that have helped me enhance my pitching skills. They are all bookmarked and I refer to them often, especially when I’m stumped or uncertain about how to approach a new contact.

Below are some of my favorites that you might find useful, too:

Blogger Relations (and Social Media Release) Case Study by Todd Defren

How You Might View Bloggers by Chris Brogan

A Day in the Life of My Inbox – and When E-mail Marketing is Spam by Josh Bernoff

Open Letter to Fitness and Health Brands Pitching to Bloggers by Stephanie Quilao

Anatomy of a Bad Pitch by Dave Fleet

Great PR Manners Go a Long Way by Chris Brogan

Putting PR People on Notice by CityMama

e-Book: The Art and Science of Blogger Relations by Brian Solis

PR-Squared’s Blogger Relations Bookmark by Todd Defren

How Do I Get Placement on Blogs by Jason Falls

5 Wrong Ways to Pitch RWW and 1 Great Way by Marshall Kirkpatrick

How to Pitch Bloggers: 21 Tips by Darren Rowse

The PR Professional’s Credo: 7 Promises by Todd Defren

The Bad Pitch Blog’s Compiled List of Resources

How to Talk to the Press by Guy Kawasaki

Say What? A .pdf of What Not to Say to the Media compiled by the Bad Pitch Blog

5 Tips for Media Relations Success by David Mullen

Using PR to Successfully Launch a Corporate Website

I spent Super Bowl Sunday hard at work in the NMS offices gearing up for the launch of my company’s re-designed website and monitoring online buzz about brands advertised during the game.

As a young professional in the public relations industry, the Super Bowl provides immense insight into consumer marketing and brand monitoring – which is why I was thrilled when one of my co-workers asked me to help with the Super Bowl Social Media Snapshot and working on the launch of our new website.

Getting Involved with the Website Launch

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned since graduating from college is when any of your colleagues ask you if you want to work on a project with them, you enthusiastically and immediately accept. This is what I did last week – and it led to a great opportunity that allowed me to use and develop my PR skills in a new way.

Yesterday, a 14 hour day at the office, allowed me to work on very challenging and rewarding projects that have stretched and improved my PR skill set. Not only did I get to work on the Social Media Snapshot, I also learned how to effectively market a company’s website re-launch.

I had never publicized a website launch before, so it was a great learning experience, especially since company websites are usually the main source of information for consumers and employees, both current and potential. Because of this, both internal and external PR was used.

Navigating the New Site for Highlights

Before the site launched, I spent considerable time browsing it to familiarize myself with all the new changes and how they enhanced the company’s brand and would provide visitors with engaging and necessary information.

New Media Strategies

Since NMS is a social media marketing company, my team knew we had to highlight the features of our site that showcased our experience in this area. For example, many of our case studies include links to Delicious bookmarks with placements we received. This innovative feature is valuable to our clients and employees. Picking out a few key elements will help draft reader-friendly marketing copy when it comes time to promote the site launch.

Writing the Press Release

Press releases spread the word, and when distributed via newswires they increase SEO results. Writing marketing copy and press releases about websites can be tedious, but every site launch needs them.

To ensure the release included the features on our site we wanted to highlight, but was also reader-friendly, we opted for a short introduction and a bulleted list of the features we wanted to showcase. This included our Flickr gallery, employee profiles, blog with 86 employee contributors, and interactive timeline.

The press release needed to provide readers with comprehensive information about the new site, that will pique their curiosity enough to drive them to the site.

Spreading the Word

If necessary, your company might want you to distribute your press release to the public over various newswires. Here are some free ones: OpenPR.com, PR-USA.net, Free-Press-Release-Center.info, i-newswire.com, PRLog.org and PRZoom.com. PRWeb and PRNewswire are paid services that allow more options for distribution and might be a good fit depending on your company, budget, and the quality of the website’s features and usability.

Pitching journalists and bloggers who cover your industry will help give the launch more publicity, leading to higher traffic and more press for your company.

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Have any of you worked on a site launch before? Is there anything you would add to these areas?

A Young Pro’s Take: Media Relations and the New PR Blacklists

As a new—brand new!—PR professional, this tug-of-war between public relations practitioners and the media is exhausting. For those of you who don’t know about this already, another public outing of PR agencies that apparently spam bloggers and journalists has been created. Coming only a couple of months after Chris Anderson’s infamous blacklist, this shows that PR pros haven’t learned their lesson yet. But what exactly is the lesson that needs to be learned when it comes to media relations?

After reading the slew of posts covering this topic that popped up on the blogosphere yesterday, I think I’ve narrowed it down to a couple of core issues:

  • That’s not how I want to be contacted. These PR pros pitched the blogger at her personal e-mail address, when she clearly said this is not how she wanted to be contacted. This should be the first step in media relations—if you are trying to build a relationship with someone, you should respect their requests. All relationships are built on trust and respect, right?

**UPDATE: In this particular instance, Cision listed the blogger’s personal e-mail address as her main form of contact. Clearly a mistake on this company’s part, which might account for the heavy influx of pitches sent to this address. I’m interested to see how Cision handles this specific case. I am not making excuses as I still think it’s important for PR pros to monitor their media lists, making sure that they are up-to-date and correct.

  • 587 new e-mails…Bah humbug. Bulk pitching is, apparently, the devil. Bulk pitching equals laziness. It shows that the PR professional didn’t take the time to read the journalist’s past work, comment or engage in the material, and decided to send out mass pitch e-mails instead. Brian Solis’ post broke down e-mail pitches into three categories: spam, bacn, and tofu. The varying levels of processed (eh, or fake) meat depend on the level of connection the pitcher made with the journalist. I won’t go into too much detail because I really want you to click on the link and read the post for yourself—the post and the comments make for an interesting read. The point is that you have to know who you are pitching. Todd Defren at Shift Communications posted a terrific guideline to blogger relations and how to build these relationships before you pitch. He makes his employees laminate it and stick it on their desks—I’ll be doing it, too.
  • But I write about technology, not pet care. Another problem is that the journalist never writes about what we are pitching. This is the issue I have the most difficulty understanding, because it seems like common sense that you would only pitch those writers who have an interest in your client or product. I find it hard to believe that every agency listed on that wiki pitched an unrelated topic, which makes me wonder how broad is too broad? If you cover technology, and my client is releasing a new product related to Web development, shouldn’t I pitch you? Maybe I’m over thinking the whole process, but this is where my knowledge of media relations grows thin. How can I ensure that my message is wanted without being a mind reader?
  • What do you expect? I don’t know what I’m doing! Jeremy Pepper thinks the main issue is that PR pros aren’t being properly trained when it comes to media relations. While I can’t speak from the professional side, I can agree with him from the academic side. As a recent grad, I can tell you that I have had minimal exposure to pitching the media. This is, obviously, very difficult to do in the classroom setting, and most of my internships would let me pitch only when everyone else was swamped with bigger clients. For many of my peers, pitching is the thing we know the least about after graduation, which means it’s the area we need the most training in when we enter the workforce. What do we need to know? How do bloggers and journalists want to be pitched? Better yet, professionals, what are your media relations training programs like in this PR 2.0 world?

Back when I was a baby blogger, I wrote about this topic. I asked how to be better, and I got very few responses. So here I am, a PR professional, asking (again) what I can do to help make the relationship between PR and the media more beneficial for both sides. What’s the lesson that needs to be learned?

Because, personally, I want to stop this tug-o-war. My hands are getting blisters.

And You Wonder Why I’m Scared to Pitch?

I like challenges, and I like having to overcome obstacles to achieve goals. Pitching is certainly a challenge, but I’m not so sure it’s one I like, especially with all the negative attention PR professionals have been getting because of it lately.

I remember the first time I had to pitch a story to a local newspaper when I was a lowly first-year intern. As I dialed the number, I rehearsed a script in my head, trying to ignore the beads of sweat gathering on my palms. I felt nervous pangs building up in my stomach, and waves of dread engulfed me when I heard a voice answer the line. Heart pounding, I forced a confident introduction and asked to speak to the journalist I was pitching, only to discover she would be out of town for the rest of the week.

Pitching is an important part of public relations, and I hoped my fears would subside with practice. I was feeling more confident talking to the media at my latest internships, but that was before I entered the blogosphere.

I’ve stumbled across several blogs that make me terrified to contact the media. PR people are addressed as flacks. We’re black listed. We’re being called names. I feel like the awkward girl in middle school who everyone makes fun for every miniscule thing she does. Okay—so that’s pretty melodramatic, but let’s get serious. Isn’t this battle between journalists and PR practitioners getting a little ridiculous?

Because I used to be a journalism major who worked at a paper, I know the importance of press releases in the news room. They helped me come up with story ideas when I was suffering from writer’s block several times. Some of the editors complained about the PR firms that sent out mass releases, but for the most part, the paper appreciated the efforts of PR professionals. The reason this relationship worked? Because it was just that—a relationship.

The deterioration of the journalist/PR relationship is the root of this battle of the professions. There are some blogs attacking PR that make valid claims. Chris Anderson was fed up with the spam-like nature of press releases he received. Nicholas Carlson received a release complete with drafting and editing marks. Maybe some PR people are getting lazy, and that’s reflecting poorly on the industry as a whole, but what about the rest of us?

Throughout my PR education I’ve learned that pitching to the media should be based on a mutually beneficial relationship. This seems like common sense to me, but how can we form relationships when we’re being silenced before we even get the chance to introduce ourselves?

Gene Weingarten’s recent Washington Post article, “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You… Names” is what worries me the most. Here, a PR firm contacts Weingarten to get his opinion on the best ways to contact him. It seems like good-natured communication, but Weingarten rips the firm to shreds with sarcastic answers and a slew of insults. This is exactly why my blood pressure skyrockets every time I have to contact a journalist.

Pitching is about building relationships, but where do we PR professionals (especially students) begin making these connections? I would love to go out and grab coffee with as many journalists as possible– and I have in the past– but am I supposed to do this with every journalist I could potentially pitch?

I know there’s no magic formula that will make me competent at pitching, but because it’s such a valued skill in this industry, I’d like all the advice I can get. Students, professors, professionals, and journalists—I’ll appreciate all the insight you can give me so that one of mistakes isn’t floating around the blogosphere for everyone to mock.