Crafting A Successful PR Pitch

The primary focus of a public relations campaign needs to be meeting the media’s needs.  If you don’t accomplish that, you’re missing the mark.  Meet the media’s needs and you’ll meet yours.  As I’ve stated in other articles, leading with statistics can be an effective approach.  Let’s say you’re a health care worker that deals with chronic pain.  Or you produce a supplement that helps relieve pain; you can lead with the fact that chronic pain affects approximately 25 percent of the U.S. population and three-fifths of adults 65 or older.  Find some studies and statistics that you can quote that illustrate that the story you’re pitching does indeed affect a large number of people.

Numbers and statistics help give a PR pitch gravitas.  Also never forget that the media is interested in their own type of statistics; they’re interested in the number of viewers, readers or listeners that will be interested in this story.  So the more you can assure them that this is a story that not only affects, but will also interest a large target market, the better your chances of landing a story.  Once you’ve used your statistics to narrow down your specific pitch, you can then take a reverse course and broaden your pitch.  For example if you use statistics to show how pain affects older Americans, after making that point, you can then add a sentence stating that this type of pain does not only strike seniors, but a wide range of people, from professional athletes and weekend jocks to those who suffer with fibromyalgia and arthritis, who deal with bouts of acute and chronic pain.

Use statistics to give your pitches credibility.  For example, if you’re pitching a story about complementary medicine, look online for stats regarding how popular alternative and complementary medicine has become.  Then, depending on the specific angle of the story you’re pitching, you can use those statistics to illustrate why your story idea is both important and timely.  Now use those statistics in your press releases and pitches.

After making a specific pitch, close with other topics and angles that you can address.  Include a short (very short) bio listing your expertise and qualifications and that you can also address such topics as (fill in the blank).  That way if your particular pitch doesn’t work for an editor or producer, they can see that there are other topics that you can address.

Using statistics, numbers and figures can help anchor a pitch and a story, but don’t rely on stats alone; the main part of your pitch needs to be compelling and newsworthy.  So, when launching a media relations campaign, keep the media’s needs in mind; first develop your pitch and then look for stats that help give your story idea credence.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2011

Learning the PR Mindset

Launching and sustaining a public relations campaign is an ongoing process.  In the PR world, you are continually refining and modifying your approach, pitches, story ideas, and media lists.  If a basic pitch is working, you want to stay with it for a bit.  One mistake I’ve seen companies make is that they try to continually send out new pitches and releases simply for the sake of getting new information out to the media. This mindset of continually writing press releases that aren’t newsworthy in order to keep new information flowing, is a dangerous one.   Yes you want to offer the media new angles, pitches and media hooks, but you don’t want to send out new information unless it’s truly warranted.

Monitor how your media pitches and press releases are being received.  If a pitch you sent out six weeks ago is gaining traction and garnering media coverage, stay with that story.  Work it; develop it; use the media coverage you’re now landing to garner more media coverage.  Don’t shift your focus simply because your calendar says it’s time for a new media release.  Truth is that media relations is more of an art than a science (which drives most left brainers crazy).  If you try to simply set up a mechanical or statistical PR gameplan and allow that to dictate the campaign, you’re in trouble

As with the media itself an effective public relations campaign is fluid.  It is both proactive and reactive. If a national story breaks and you can tie your story to it, you need to be able to react, move quickly and change your approach.  If, on the other hand, a pitch is working and gaining traction, you want to stay with it, work it and keep it moving.  Media relations can be difficult for those who need to follow a specific course set-in-stone approach.  It is an ever changing, continually evolving practice.

Begin by creating a list of objectives that you want to achieve before launching a media relations campaign.  Now come up with a list of story angles and media pitches that you can use.   When it comes to PR brainstorming, your goal is to create a list of the most important story ideas including: new business concepts, the unique value you offer, important information you can give, and anecdotal stories.  Part of that process is to give some thought to how and why you can be presented as an expert in your overall field.

Initially you want to come up with your story ideas and media pitches, followed by your target media lists.  Create specific objectives, but allow the campaign the ability to shift and change course.  Developing an effective PR strategy is not unlike creating an effective sports gameplan.  You develop a strategy and draw up specific plays, but you also allow yourself the ability to act and react depending on what comes at you. There is an intuitive aspect to the PR process that has to allow for action and reaction.  You want to set up a specific target and gameplan, but you need to be able to shift and alter your plan as needed.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2011

Media Training Secrets for Business Success

When I began in the public relations world over twenty years ago (that’s daunting), I quickly realized that landing an interview or a story for a client was only a part of the process.  Early on that first part of the process was my primary focus.  My job was to garner media coverage for my clients on TV, print or radio (this was actually pre social media days) and that was that.  Well I soon learned there was a huge difference between simply landing an interview and having the client give the media a successful interview.

Clients need to be prepared to speak to the media.  Although the best interviews seem like conversations, in fact they are not.  Both the interviewer and the interviewee have an agenda.  The interviewer wants to interest his or her target audience; the interviewee wants to get his or her message across, which should include a call to action.  Interviews work when the questions and answers flow and the agendas don’t clash.  But this is easier said than done.  After having producers and editors give me some tough but needed feedback about clients who were either boring or were too pushy, I realized that in order to achieve real PR success, media training was needed.

That’s when I brought on Ann Convery.  Ann has served as our media trainer since then.  She is now an international speaker, seminar leader, trainer and author who has prepared clients for interviews on Oprah, CNN, 60 Minutes, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, as well as hundreds of local, regional and trade-oriented media outlets.  Ann’s gift is to teach clients how to distill their message and speak to the media in a way that meets the media’s needs but also meets the client’s needs.

For a PR or media relations campaign to be successful, landing interviews and media coverage is not enough.  Clients need to be able to deliver their message in a clear, succulent, informative and entertaining manner.  Easier said than done, but it is a skill that can be learned.   For years Ann has prepared our clients to do just that, deliver effective and successful media interviews.

But her real genius was her ability to connect the dots and realize that the ability to effectively communicate with the media could be just as powerful and effective when communicating in the business world.  Using her media training skills and techniques, she developed Speak Your Business in 30 Seconds or Less.  Speak Your Business is a system that shows you how to find very specific words and numbers – found only in your business – so that you are effortlessly speaking and writing directly to the hidden, hungry “buying” brain in your prospects, every time.  Utilizing these tools, many of Ann’s clients have generated up to thousands of dollars in business within months with her Signature Series program, “You’re So Brilliant. Why Don’t They Buy?”

The bottom line is if you’re going to launch a public relations campaign for you and your business, you first need to master the art of effectively communicating.  Just last month a client who assured me he had been media trained and was set to do interviews, came off looking like a deer in the headlights when we landed him a spot on a TV news program.   Believe me, media training is a skill that will serve you well.   More importantly, as Ann teaches, these communication tools and skills work whether you’re talking to the media, delivering a speech, networking or making a phone call to a prospect.

For more information visit:   www.annconvery.com     

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2011

You Don’t Have to Be in a Major Media Market to Benefit from PR

If you’re looking to promote your business, company or product and you’re not in one of the major markets such as Los Angeles or New York, PR should be high on your marketing to do list.  Public relations is a way to position yourself as an expert in your field and to gain the credibility and validation to allow you to compete with the competition in larger markets.

This type of media coverage can benefit you in several ways.  It can garner you media coverage in your target market, it can establish you as an expert nationally and locally and it can gain you the same credibility as your larger competitors.  If you’re a small business, chances are you could never compete with your larger competitors when it comes to traditional advertising or direct marketing.  Doing so is just too cost prohibitive.  But media relations can help level the playing field.  Being featured in a newspaper, magazine or TV segment presents you as the expert, and your company or product becomes the news.

The upside is that a public relations campaign offers you an affordable option to take your message directly to your target market.  If you’re in a smaller media market, and you professionally present your story to the local media, your chances of landing a story are maximized.  The large markets have heavy competition.  Everyone is looking for coverage there.  By initially focusing on the smaller markets you can gain local coverage and start establishing your business.  You can then take that media and magnify it online.  Post it on your blog,  Tweet the link to the article, post it on Facebook and other social media sites.  The internet allows you to turn a local story into an international story.

You can then use your local media to pitch the national outlets.   Once you’ve landed local media coverage, you are legitimately a story.  Use that initial coverage to position yourself as an expert and pitch your story to larger media outlets.

If you have a locally based business, the local and regional  media reaches your market.  It speaks directly to your clients and customers. The national media then offers your business the validation and credibility of the major players in your field.  Both have their uses, but by combining the two approaches you’ll get the most bang for your PR buck.  Remember, media begets media.  It’s a cumulative process.  Start local and then build.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2011

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