With the abundance of channels and platforms populating today's media landscape, from online and mobile to traditional print and broadcast, marketers can employ various methods to communicate their brand messages. The nuances of communicating effectively are more critical now than ever.
There are several core tenets of pitching that every brand marketer should follow, whether you are pitching traditionally or using social media to connect.
Below are five essential tips to get you started, formulated from my experience over the past 15 years at The Salup Group, where we are continuously pitching journalists and producers and generating outstanding media coverage for clients in all industries.
1. Build a Media Outreach Strategy
Map out a plan of action for core messaging, target audience, key media, time of product launch, and follow up.
2. Consider Your Audience
You may have a message you want to communicate but WAIT, here are a few things you should think about:
• Break out the audiences: perceived, existing, desired.
• Who are you targeting?
• What do they read and watch?
• What media outlets and editors are you reaching out to?
• How do they prefer to be engaged?
• ALWAYS consider the media outlet you are pitching and who their readers and viewers are.
3. Develop a Media Outreach Protocol
Again, consider your audience! Not every writer or producer likes to be contacted or approached the same way.
• Mine the media landscape and research individual media contacts, look at their past stories, topics, or segments, and review their profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, approach accordingly.
• If you have the resources, subscribe to a media service like Cision or MyMediaInfo that provide some of the information mentioned above.
Mode of Contact
• Phone-usually seasoned media and very old school approach. I am a huge fan of the phone call but you must really know your media contact and your product. If you are going to call, send an email first to prep them, it's never fun to be caught off guard. Do not leave messages asking them to call you back.
• Email- Email is great if you have a good subject title and can capture media's attention but it can take 2-3 strategic follow up messages.
• Social Media
Twitter is a great way to reach out when pitching media. Some journalists actually welcome and prefer this method of outreach. However, Twitter pitching requires skill and finesse in the world of communication.
• Build a relationship with the media contact.
• Be a resource and offer information related to the topics they report on.
• Follow their tweets and pay attention to the topics they tweet about.
• Establish interactions around these tweets and build credibility as a resource on the topic.
• Don't ask them to direct message you. You can DM them for contact info but not immediately.
Facebook is strictly a social hub for friends, sorry.
If you are friends with an editor/producer/writer on Facebook, you can ask them for their work email and let them know you are sending a pitch but don't do it on Facebook.
As for Pinterest, Instagram, Foursquare, LinkedIn and Google Plus, these are terrific channels to learn what your media contacts are talking about and covering but unless they ask to be "pinged" here, stick to email or their preferred method of contact.
4. Create Savvy and Interesting Brand Messaging
Design your messages for each platform i.e Twitter -140 characters; TV producers typically want a visual concept paired with actionable tips and advice their viewers can easily follow and do at home.
• Engage media, relate to topics they cover, identify how your brand fits into the mix.
• Don't just tell them about your product. How can you or your product be valuable to their audience? Offer several broad ideas focused beyond your product or brand.
• Start your pitch letter with a question and immediately engage media as opposed to telling them about your brand.
5. Timing & Launch
Cross reference your outreach and launch time with each outlets media calendar unless you have breaking news.
• Understand the lead time of content published on each media platform from real time twitter feeds to long lead magazines and match your campaign outreach and messaging to meet these time frames.
• Use Your Time Wisely
Don't ask an online media outlet to write about your product if the launch is six months away, their readers won't be able to buy your product now and it will be a challenge to remind them six months later. Your time is better spent working on pitching a magazine or national television show. Of course it's a great opportunity to introduce yourself to the online editor and ask them to "keep you under consideration" and offer to reach out at a later date.
Good luck launching your public relations campaign and just remember, the key is understanding how all of the above channels and platforms work. Particularly, who is the media's audience and how do these journalists and producers prefer to be engaged. From there, you can shape your messages so that when you do communicate, it's in a language they are receptive to.
Not to date myself, BUT, when I first started, we mailed press kits and used the telephone for follow up! I still feel using the phone is a great way to connect with a person, but now, I always email first, even if I have a great relationship with the journalist or producer. It's a nice way to initially reach out and let your contact know you might be calling. This way when you do talk, you'll have their full attention.