Millions watched as Game 7 got underway at Dodger Stadium on November 1. It only took two short innings of bad pitching by the Dodger’s Yu Darvish to put a first-ever World Series Championship on a silver platter for the Houston Astros. In those first two innings, Darvish gave up 5 runs, which were the only runs the Dodgers scored the entire evening. Bad pitching is a game changer in baseball and PR.
The play at the plate is critical; the ball whizzes through the air and either connects with the bat or it doesn’t. If it connects, there is a hit. All PR pros use this same lingo when executing a PR campaign. You pitch a story and work for the hit. It is that simple, well not really.
What you pitch, to whom you pitch the story, and how you pitch it makes all the difference.
- What’s the Pitch?
Long before a pitch is communicated, the story has been strategically developed. The key to securing a hit is offering a story idea that answers one simple question – why is it newsworthy? A new product, service, hire or venture all seem newsworthy to the one making the announcement, but why should anyone else care? It is the PR pro’s job to find that golden nugget and polish it until it shines to attract the media’s attention. A well-honed pitch encourages editors to open the gates and communicate with target audiences through that credible, third-party perspective media lends to the story.
And, never forget your manners. Send an email pitch or place that call at a time convenient for the recipient. Think about their challenges and make it easier for them to carve out time to learn more about the product or company you’re pitching, and let them get to know you, the storyteller. Be personable and NEVER be pushy. Learn to read the sometimes not so subtle signs that there is a hint of interest to foster or when it’s just time to finish up with a polite thank you.
- Who’s at the Plate?
Building a targeted media list with current contacts and accurate contact information is critical. The more you put into building a media list with qualified contacts, the better your chances of making a connection. At some point in a PR pro’s career, the wrong editor was on the receiving end of a pitch. It’s embarrassing. It shows you didn’t do your research and thus diminishes your credibility. It’s a mistake you only make once. The information is out there, readily available on websites and social media. Make the effort. Get to know your media contacts; what’s their beat, what have they written about lately, and what are their interests? Get to know a bit about them so you can engage in a conversation and begin building rapport and trust. Get them at hello.
- How to hit a home run.
Clearly, there is no I in TEAM. And, if you’re pitching to the media make sure you never utter that pronoun. You can of course say it when introducing yourself, the PR professional, but never make the pitch about a specific product or company. A self-serving pitch will get you benched. Don’t convey an assumption that a product is fabulous; explain and demonstrate how it has proven helpful to a larger audience – their audience. Tell a story about how it served as a solution to a well-known problem. Share a testimonial. Communicate how your pitch relates to current events? Use video and photography to enhance the story. Build the story for the editor. In essence, do the work for them. Build and tell a relevant story and put it on a silver platter, ready to serve audiences.
It’s not like Darvish wasn’t prepared to pitch the most important game of his career. He didn’t get to the World Series without hard work, training and talent. He just wasn’t on his game that night. In the world of media relations, we all can experience an off day, but with training we can help our clients develop messaging that motivates the media to reach a wider audience with thoughtful, objective reporting.
If you’d like to discuss further the benefits of strategic PR, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or learn more about our full-service agency, McDougall + Duval Advertising at www.mcdougallduval.com.