You’ve crafted the perfect pitch. You came up with a creative angle and covered all the necessary information in a concise email. You’re confident—thinking that there’s no way anyone could say no to this pitch. However, as any PR pro knows, crafting the pitch is only half the battle. In reality, your pitch is meaningless if you send it to the wrong person.
When I first started working in PR, my first boss gave me a piece of advice I’ll never forget: your pitch is only as good as the person you’re sending it to. If your target isn’t a good fit—if you don’t do your research on the reporter you’re going after—chances are your pitch will fall flat.
Databases like Cision or Anewstip are great places to start, but they only pull information that is surface-level and often outdated. You need to know more than the reporter’s publication and beat for your pitch to get attention. Especially in tech PR, where media can be extremely niche and reporters jump from one publication to the next.
Here are some tips to dig a little deeper and ensure you’re sending your pitch to its perfect match:
Know what you’re talking about.
Our clients rely on us to understand their technologies and communicate their value in a creative, digestible pitch to reporters. When you’re talking to the TechTargets and TechCrunchs of the world, you have to know what you’re talking about, and let’s be honest: you can’t fake your way through tech talk. You need be able to field questions and explain results, implications and use cases clearly, concisely and knowledgeably. If you’re pitching concepts that you don’t understand, it’s worth setting up an input call with the client or doing some external research. Delivering a pitch that shows you know what you’re talking about earns you credibility with reporters, who will appreciate getting the information they need.
Seems like a no-brainer, but you must dedicate at least some time every day to reading the newspaper. It’s easy to get busy or distracted, but it’s your job to know what’s going on in the world, what columns are relevant to your work and who is covering topics your client can comment on. It can be tempting to build a media list blindly, without being in tune with the news. However, reading a lot—and often—is an important first step in determining which reporter is the ideal target.
The next step is—that’s right—more reading. Knowing the beat of a particular reporter is great, but reading their most recent articles is going to make a difference between hitting the mark or missing it completely. Beats are broad and often don’t nail down the exact topics a reporter covers. Take the artificial intelligence (AI) beat, for example. AI can cover everything from machine learning and predictive analytics to autonomous vehicles, but you wouldn’t send your self-driving car pitch to someone covering data science. In addition, recent articles can help you discover specific trends they’re covering, if they do any fun seasonal pieces, interviews vs. thought leadership, local vs. national stories, or if they’ve recently switched focuses. With this insight, you can tailor your pitch to make it relevant to the reporter.
Stalk their social media.
No, don’t actually stalk a reporter—but don’t be afraid to do some digging. Looking at a person’s social media provides insight into what they’re interested in, what they’re reading and who they are outside of work. Social media is a great tool to find where you and the reporter intersect. Maybe you have a common connection on LinkedIn who could introduce you, or maybe they graduated from your or your client’s alma mater (and hey, if you didn’t pay tuition to play that alumni card every once in a while, what did you even pay for?). It could even be as simple as noticing the reporter owns a dog and reports on tech—so naturally they would be a good fit for your client’s high-tech dog product. Social media goes beyond just making a relevant pitch. It can help you understand how your client is relatable to the reporter.
Be good to everyone.
I recently visited a news station to watch a broadcast and the numberone tip the sports reporter shared was to be good to everyone when you pitch. If someone doesn’t get back to you, understand they probably didn’t have time or didn’t get to your email. Follow up, be polite, push—but not to the point of being annoying. Even if you get a snippy response from a reporter, still be nice. Understand that we’re all just humans trying to do our jobs. You never know when you might need a particular reporter again—or if they might be the perfect match for your next pitch.
For more tips from the PR pros at V2, check out our eBooks, infographics and other blog posts like this one on the top social media accounts every PR star should follow.