A big portion of our day at Affect is focused on media outreach for our PR clients. Because we’re pitching so often, sometimes it’s beneficial to go back to the basics, evaluate your process and make sure you’re checking off all of your boxes. Here’s a checklist of everything you should ask yourself before hitting the send button to that reporter.
Do I understand the timeliness of the piece/topic?
Why should the reporter write about this today? If there’s another breaking news item in their wheelhouse and your pitch isn’t time sensitive, what can you do to hook them? Keep this in mind when drafting your pitch, but also know you may need to focus on the follow up instead once the big story has died down.
Do I know my competitors and customers?
This seems like it’s common knowledge, but some clients have customers that we can’t reference or that we need to obtain approval before naming them. It’s also important to note competitors, which can be used as a hook. It doesn’t only show the reporter that you have a good grasp on the space, but that you’re aware of how your client fits into the mix.
Am I adding a new layer of thinking?
Reporters are inundated every hour of every day. If we’re hopping on a news story but aren’t adding anything new to it, why should the reporter care? If you’re not saying anything new, reevaluate your pitch and add something new. If you were the reporter, what would make you open your email?
Am I contributing or adding controversy?
When it comes to competitor news, it’s important to not just make it a “me too” pitch and to think about why the reporter would care to hear about a similar company. Don’t just contribute to the story, but add controversy to make it more complex, and convince the reporter that a follow up story is worth their time.
Have I adjusted the pitch to the publication’s expectations?
At the end of the day, all publications want different things. Publication A may want to hear about the CEO’s personal side, when publication B just wants to know the company’s 2012 revenue. Adjust your pitch accordingly.
Have I “beefed up” my private company?
If your company is private and you’re pitching an outlet that loves to have those financial numbers, think of anything else you can add. Does your client provide a solution to Fortune 500 companies? Did they recently make the Inc. 500|5000 list? Whatever meat you can add to make the reporter perk their ears up, strategically fit it into your pitch.
Do I know what the reporter is looking for with the follow up?
When you’re at the follow up stage, typically via phone, know what the reporter is looking for in the follow up. It’s all right to ask what they want for the email subject line, or what time is best to follow up again.
If you’ve checked all of these boxes, it’s time to hit send. You’ve done your due diligence to execute a strong pitch. No matter how long you’ve been pitching, don’t forget to take a step back and revisit these questions whenever you need a quick refresher.