It’s not a pitch, it’s a seduction

Guest post by Jon Gelberg

You know the guy in the bar? Yeah, that guy:

  • The one with no charm.
  • The one who’s a lousy listener. 
  • The one who’s clearly looking for just one thing.
  • The one who hits on every woman with a cheesy pick-up line.

You know… the guy who usually ends up going home alone.

A lot of PR practitioners behave exactly like that guy when pitching the media.
They send out mass, impersonal pitches.
They don’t bother to do any homework about the reporter they’re pitching, failing to even understand the reporter/blogger’s beat.
They pitch reporters all of the time without ever bothering to engage in a meaningful discussion with the reporter/blogger.
They never follow up, say “thanks,” or make any effort to develop an ongoing relationship.

Like the aforementioned guy at the bar who is doomed to loneliness, these PR practitioners invariably fail to get the earned media they so desperately want.
Pitching the media, for lack of better word, is a seduction. Members of the media are pitched dozens, if not hundreds, of times a day. They are like the most beautiful woman at the bar. You need to find a way to stand out from the crowd.
Be attentive, be funny, be generous and be persistent, without being obnoxious.

Step one: Do your homework
Long before you even think of pitching a member of the media, you would be wise to do a bit of sleuthing. In this era of social media, there is no excuse for not getting a wealth of information about the media source you plan on engaging. There is no excuse for not having read the last five stories they’ve written and the last week’s worth of tweets they’ve posted. Subscribe to their Facebook pages.
See what’s on their mind, what interests them, what they’ve been writing about.  
Retweet some of the posts you like. Find a way to get on their radar (in a positive way).

Step two:  Let them know you “care”
In the early stages of dating, it really helps to be a good listener. When you make contact with a media professional, don’t just pitch them. Ask them what kind of information would be most helpful to them and their readers. Ask them if there’s a story they’re struggling with. Ask if there is any industry intelligence you can provide them with.

Also, this is where you put all of that research to work! Tell the reporter how much you enjoyed a particular story. Discuss shared interests. Let the reporter know that you thoroughly understand their beat.

Step Three: Make it all about them, not you!
There’s no bigger turn-off in the dating world than making every conversation all about you. Same thing applies here.

Sure, your job is to get coverage for your business or for a client. That’s what pays your bills. But the members of the media don’t care if you eat or have a roof over your head. They care about providing useful and entertaining information to their readership or viewership. You’ve got to make a strong case why the story you are pitching will serve the interests of the reporter’s target audience. Demonstrate to the reporter/blogger just how great and interesting a story is and why you are the person to be quoted.

Step Four: Serve your pitch on a silver platter
Your job is to make the reporter’s job easier. Lay out your value proposition is clearly and immediately. Provide quotes that can be inserted into a story. Provide historical/industry context. I’m not telling you to write the story for the reporter, but to make it simple for the reporter to get the job done him/herself.

Step Five: Don’t make it a “one-night stand”
Once you’ve proven your worth to a reporter and have gotten that coveted coverage, then the relationship is just beginning. Continue to reach out to the reporter. Provide them with useful information. Engage them on Twitter.
A continuing relationship with a reporter satisfies the needs of both sides. You are a valuable source to the reporter and the reporter is a value source of earned media for you.

It’s a marriage made in heaven.
Jon Gelberg is the founder Gelberg Communications. 

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