How to Pitch Your Story

Check out the post I wrote on PRSA-MD’s Chesapeake Conference page on this topic (repeated below).

A successful pitch is the key to any public relations effort. After all, your goal is to receive free publicity for your client, product, or company. To do so, you need to be a pitch master.

Below are some tips on how to provide a successful pitch. However, if you want to practice your pitching skills, be sure to attend the Chesapeake Conference. This year, the Chesapeake Conference will feature a Speed Pitching session.

What is that, you ask? Well, it is an awesome opportunity for Conference attendees to ‘test out’ their best pitches on real, live journalists and receive feedback (and maybe even a story!).  Each pitcher is given 10 minutes with the journalist of their choice; this gives you time to present your pitch, and receive feedback.

Here are some pitching tips to help ensure your pitch is a success:

Frankly, be prepared. Have your story set, your ‘elevator speech’, if you will. Since you won’t have much time, know the main selling points, and have them up front and center as part of your pitch. Though it may not be needed, be sure to have back-up facts, or any additional material, handy (especially facts and figures).

Have a press release ready. Don’t rely on a phone conversation alone – not only may you not be able to get one, but you want your targeted journalist to have all the information possible. Plus, the release is a handy way for them to find your contact info, or more info about your client, product, or company than you were able to get out ‘in person’.

Research the reporter and his/her beat. Be sure to look through recent articles/stories by that journalist, to ensure you’re not giving ‘old news’. If it does sound a bit like a repeat, is there any way you  can provide a new angle? Plus, you don’t want to pitch a travel client’s success story to a courtroom journalist – it’s not a good fit.

Follow-up. Be patient, be considerate, yet be a bit persistent. Follow-up with a voicemail or e-mail, possibly with a resent of your press release.

To put these tips into action, attend the 2009 PRSA-MD Chesapeake Conference and take part in the Speed Pitching session. What other time do you receive a reporter’s undivided attention, along with their candor on how to make your pitch better so it is deemed more newsworthy? I haven’t come across such a time – if you have, please let me know!

This year, the journalists participating in our Speed Pitching session are:

  • Rob Terry, The Baltmore Business Journal
  • Liz Farmer, The Daily Record
  • Dave McHugh, WMAR, producer of “Good Morning Maryland”

We are adding new pitchees daily, so check back often!

 

For more info on how to successfully pitch your story, check out these additional resources:
How to Pitch Stories for Media Placement 
How to Pitch Stories Like a Journalist
How to Pitch a Story to the Media

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