The Differences in Pitch Style & Purpose Are Helpful to Understand
I love PR, I love SEO and I really love how well they intersect to grow client reach and conversion.
So when pitch samples hit my desk for my bad pitch column, Rock The Pitch, or I get pitched myself as a blogger, I know instantly where it’s coming from: a PR professional, a business owner/entrepreneur or someone trying to get an SEO backlink.
How that pitch is written can be VERY revealing. Motives are similar – a chance to publish a guest post or article – but many tend to follow an all-too-common, copy and paste template that reveals their true purpose behind the pitch.
[Tweet “Sadly, it’s rare to get a pitch that is specific, interesting and relevant.”]
I believe this is less about PR pros and more about WHO ELSE sends pitches. It’s not a practice exclusive to public relations specialists like it used to be.
Why do I write about backlink pitches in a PR blog? Because journalists complain about the quality of a pitch and attribute it to lazy PR pros when it isn’t actually coming from a PR professional (not that we don’t screw up, too), and PR pros scorn pitches on their client blogs mentioning money or compensation.
Both criticize or laugh about how bad the pitch is, without realizing where it’s coming from or the motivator behind it.
Took a quick peek through my email and remembered this pitch, which turned into a 6-page feature in Life Refined magazine.
She immediately gave me the “Why” as well as a deeper story possibility other than just talking about the exhibit in a 250-word blurb. The lead time was well in advance which magazines always need and there are gorgeous photo options included as well.
I ended up running a full feature on Neil Lane in the magazine and also wrote a smaller piece for another outlet I freelance for.
Hope that helps!
Holy. cow. How rare is it to get that kind of feature spread? I’m envious.
Today’s Rock The Pitch submission comes from a beauty blogger in Phoenix, AZ, and she makes a great point when she says, “I recieve a ton of bad pitches, unfortunately. This one is really vague and begs the question, WHY would I do this?”
From: <name redacted> Subject: Happy Brunch Season! Date: April 4, 2014 at 5:46:42 AM MST To:<editor email removed>
Spring is finally here! The sun is shining and flowers are blooming, but here at <name removed> we are finding ourselves most excited about one thing: the start of brunch season!
We’ve put together a few checklist items for the ultimate brunch event. Now we want to know what makes your perfect brunch. We’d love for you to create a post telling us your best brunch tip: whether it’s a recipe, an outfit, or just your own favorite must haves to make your brunch the best in town.
You can check out our post here: <link URL removed>
Please let me know if you have any questions, and I look forward to hearing from you!
This pitch has two issues that are far, far too common and I’m guessing you might already know what they are.
1. It isn’t relevant to the topic of the blog. Why would a BEAUTY editor be interested in covering what she likes about brunches? Clearly the person sending the pitch either didn’t take time to do their homework or hoped the blogger might fall in love with the topic SO much they stray outside of their actual category and write something completely outside of it. Hmm. Right.
Happy holidays, everyone! I hope you are spending time with family and loved ones, or doing something that brings you joy and/or peace. To celebrate the end of another year for Rock The Status Quo, I’ve put together a quick eBook for you with my top seven most popular blog posts on pitching media. Just …
“Hey I’m convincing a client to start a weekly chat #hashtagremoved 1PM would love help getting it rolling, if you could show up & help :)”
Once I was past the initial urge to correct his appalling grammar, I’ll admit to the twinge of resentment that popped up out of nowhere. Has this person ever joined MY chat? Nope. Has he ever left a comment on my blog? Nope. Has he ever liked a Facebook post or retweeted something I’ve written? I’m pretty sure he hasn’t. He isn’t part of my little tribe.
I could have responded with something snarky like “Golly, since you’re so active in MY chats, I’ll be there with bells on! Glad to help!” Or, “Sure, where should I email the invoice for my time?” I didn’t. Restraint sucks, but if I can’t say something nice….
… Then I grumble about it to the dogs following me as I head to the kitchen and pour another cup of coffee. (They escort me everywhere. Like heading to the bathroom is more fascinating than their nap?)
Does it make me a grump to resent his request and expect him to give before he asks for a favor? Maybe, but I refuse to feel apologetic. I try to be a “pay it forward” kind of person, but there are times it just doesn’t make sense and it has nothing to do with generosity.
Every single day, often multiple times a day, I’m asked to do something for someone I don’t know. Review a product or piece of software. Give feedback on something. Share a philanthropic tweet. Invest time doing something for someone. Like many people who are extremely active on social media, people bombard me with requests. They want something without ever having given of their own time.
They want to use me as a media platform.
But here’s the rub: I’m not one. I write for three specific reasons – to gain an audience to learn with, to do my part improving the PR industry through education, and to build an audience for my book.
Journalists love to bash PR pros… and some of us give them ample reason, pitching without taking time to manage the due diligence that makes a pitch resonate.
Run into one that’s a bit prickly? This might be why.
This funny-yet-horrifying video was created by James Turner, a freelance journalist with an impressive background as a past senior editor at LinuxWorld Magazine who has written articles for prestigious publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Wired.
The very same dogged persistence that makes the video funny isn’t so amusing when you are on the opposite end of a relentlessly bad pitch that completely wastes your time. No wonder most journalists don’t welcome phone calls! They would miss every deadline.
“Don’t be irrelevant, poorly written, too lengthy, boring and annoying.
PR people, please understand who you are pitching, sum up your thoughts in less than four sentences, use spell check, entertain me, and ditch the buzz words if you want your emails to stay out of the trash can.”
~ Erica Swallow, Mashable
Erica’s quote is wonderful and something ALL of us should take to heart.
Before You Hit Send On That Media Pitch…
Sometimes, for those of us who are detail-oriented and process-addicted, checklists can be useful. So I thought I’d throw together a quick one that can be taped up in a cubical and glanced over before hitting send on a pitch… Just to make sure we are following best practices, even when our day is insanely busy.
The Robin Williams suicide hit me hard. Very hard.
I’ve had decades of exposure to depression, addiction and mental illness with friends and loved ones, spending agonized months – years – trying not to lose them when their pain became unbearable. Navigating the healthcare system across years of misdiagnosis, trying medications that didn’t work, finding new doctors who had a clue. Afraid of closed bedroom doors, because you couldn’t see what was happening on the other side, always worrying they might be doing something harmful or dangerous. Keeping secrets because of other people’s ignorance, misperceptions or stupidity.
Seeing others lose the fight brings home just how tenuous winning that war can be sometimes. It breaks my heart and terrifies me, because it’s a battle that doesn’t end. Every day you start over.
Regardless of the masks people wear in public, you just never know what private battles they face.
I never met Robin Williams in person, but he was one of those people who effortlessly won people’s affection through his combination of self-depreciating humor and deep love for the world around him.
His death caught the nation completely by surprise and many of us will continue mourning his loss for a long time to come. For family, the feelings of shock and horror might never go away.
It certainly didn’t help that some media outlets were all-too-eager to report intimate details of his death. If I am shocked by the callous disregard for privacy, I can only imagine how his family feels.
Edelman Crosses The Line
On Wednesday, one of the largest PR firms in the world ran a blog post by Lisa Kovitz called “Carpe Diem: Seize The Day” explaining how to get publicity from William’s suicide.
Today’s GOOD(!) PITCH submission comes from Lindsay Bell, the fabuloso content director over at Spin Sucks. Why did she like it? It was humanized… and relevant.
There is a certain irony that, as PR professionals who earn a living based on our pitching skills, our own industry blogs are smothered with a constant deluge of bad pitches. You’d think the difficult part would be picking from so many GOOD ones and that all are relevant but, alas, that is SO not the case.
I’m not convinced it is related so much to PR pros, though, as it is the fact that so many MARKETING generalists (and entrepreneurs) are taking on PR with little or no PR-specific training.
If this isn’t the case, please, I’m begging you. Don’t burst my delusional bubble. It would just be too darn depressing.
(Names and email content used in this post are included with permission from both the original sender and the publisher, lest you think I’m doing something sneaky.)
On Jul 24, 2014, at 8:42 AM, John Larkin (kudos, John!) wrote: