Senior Account Executive
June 14, 2018
As PR professionals in the high-tech industry know, crafting a compelling story around a product update or opportunistic trend and securing interest from tech and trade publications is a key component in providing top-shelf service to clients across the technology industry.
What becomes a bit more challenging is determining how to tell the story of your enterprise technology client to a business press reporter whose coverage areas tend to be a bit more general. Securing coverage in the business press can provide a B2B or B2C client a level of visibility that they’d often be unable to get otherwise, leading to a number of benefits, including a heightened brand image, a boost in sales and an increase in executive and company awareness across a broader audience.
Here are six ways to develop the perfect press pitch targeted toward a business reporter and ensure that pitch leads to coverage:
Do Your Homework
Before developing your pitch, research your targets thoroughly to ensure they are relevant to your story and make sense to contact. Never rely on their “About” section alone in order to do this. Instead, read through their articles to identify themes and how your pitch would help extend their content further. You should also comb through their Twitter page for an idea of the topics that interest them. Just because two reporters cover the same beat, doesn’t mean they are interchangeable. Only through sufficient time spent researching can you develop a strong, comprehensive list of media targets. The time it takes is worth it! You’ll yield much better results if you don’t have to go back and pitch new people later because your initial targets weren’t a good fit. Reporters will also view you as a more credible and trustworthy source if you pitch them on something they actually care about. Building that trust is essential to fostering mutually productive relationships.
Get Personal and Don’t Forget to Customize
There may be nothing reporters hate more than being sent what appears to be a mass and extremely general pitch. Customizing each and every pitch you send is essential to securing interest from a business press reporter. Utilize the research you’ve already done to inform your introduction and make it clear why you’ve reached out to them specifically with this story idea. Whether it’s due to a recent story they wrote, a topic they discussed on social media or previous experience you have working together (which is always great to mention), it should be clear up front why this pitch makes sense for them.
Develop a Strong Pitch and a Stronger Subject Line
When developing your pitch, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, develop a compelling subject line. Eight words or less is ideal. Try to think about what will make the pitch stand out to a reporter, through the subject alone, when he/she likely gets hundreds of similar emails a day. Don’t be afraid to be say something bold in order to hook them. Subject lines are often underrated but are frequently the key to success, as they are the first thing a reporter sees, and often, what will make them read through the rest of a pitch. For the pitch itself, paint a picture of a bigger problem and how your client will solve it. Use facts and statistics when possible to add credibility. Always focus on differentiation—think about what is the most newsworthy or interesting piece of the story and call that out right away. Try to think about things like, “why will this reporter care?” and “how do I make this something that they can’t say no to?” Keeping these things in mind will force you to focus on what’s most important in your pitch.
Don’t Beat Around the Bush
Whether in the pitch itself or in any type of email/phone follow-up, state the story and the ask upfront and let the business press reporter know exactly what the story is and what the call to action is. A call to action with a solid deadline is necessary and creates a sense of urgency. Try to make it as easy as possible for them to get the information they need in order to determine if they’d like to pursue an interview, follow-up, etc. If you are looking to send them a press release for review or set up a phone briefing with your client’s CEO, make the ask casual and frame it as something you’d like to do in order to help them, and not as if it’s something that will help your client. After all, it’s our intention to help both parties. Don’t beat around the bush and try to butter them up or hide your ask within a mountain of email text. Get to the point fast—let them know what the topic is and why it makes sense for them.
Get and Stay Organized
Especially when pitching a large list of business press reporters, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people alone. Staying organized throughout the pitch process is crucial. Developing a spreadsheet or word document is a great way to keep everything straight and make sure no mistakes are made. This will help you stay on track of who you’ve pitched and how many times, what their response was and why, next steps to be aware of (whether that’s moving forward with an interview, reaching out to a new target at that publication or circling back later), each of which is imperative to successful media outreach campaigns.
Follow-Ups Are Your Friend
Following up persistently and strategically is an aspect of the pitch process that should never be overlooked. Don’t feel tied to one type of outreach. Do what works best for you and mix it up. Starting with email follow-ups can be helpful to reporters, especially since your original message may get lost in the vast number of emails they receive each day. Keep follow-ups brief and to the point and change up what you say in each one, while still capturing the essence of the pitch and what is most important. Try to offer new pieces of information to capture their interest and offer depth to the subject, whether it’s news that just came out that is relevant to the story or a recent article they wrote on a similar topic. If email follow-ups aren’t capturing their attention, moving to a phone call is a natural next step. Keep time of day in mind when calling reporters (avoid first thing in the morning, lunch and end of the day) and be mindful of different time zones. Rather than leaving multiple voicemails, keep calling until you reach them live. Get straight to the point on the phone and be kind and respectful, while remaining assertive. It can be helpful to prepare notes or a cheat sheet ahead of time, but you should try not to sound rehearsed. Twitter is another way to reach reporters, and some even prefer being pitched or followed up with through a direct message. Whatever method you choose, don’t be afraid to be aggressive in your efforts and always try to stay flexible about the way things end up going.
Throughout the business press pitch process, it’s important to stay positive and try not to get discouraged if you don’t get the responses you want right away. Be confident and feel empowered in telling your client’s story. Trusting your skills and abilities will lead to the end result that you want to achieve for your clients while helping to strengthen your long-term relationships with important influencers.
June 14, 2018