The timeless, endless struggle continues: You, the savvy and realistic PR pro, know it’s better to approach fewer targets with more personalized pitches. But your boss or client keeps pushing you to bombard many more contacts with generic outreach.
To them, it’s quantity over quality, like direct marketing. If 10 is good, 100 is better, right? You disagree — if you didn’t, you wouldn’t keep reading these blog posts where I emphasize customization until my fingers get sore.
But because your boss is the one signing the checks, you need to respect their request.
Here’s a decent compromise when they demand you pitch more contacts than you can properly research and customize for: Begin your pitch with “I know you cover _____________.”
This simple step gets you closer to preventing the No. 1 complaint from media about PR pros. They say, “They don’t know what I cover and their outreach is irrelevant to me.” So the more specific your opening line, the more effective it is.
“I know you cover new password managers,” is more convincing than “I know you cover consumer technology.” Be more precise than most of your competitors who merely rely on media databases for beat information.
Another example: “I know you cover the struggles of working moms to balance their home life and career.” This is a specific and safe opening hook that should interest most workplace/careers reporters.
After this one-line intro, transition into how your pitch relates to this subject area, in one sentence. After that, pivot to your one-paragraph story idea, then your call to action, and you’re done.
The precise phrasing isn’t the point: “I know you’re into …,” “I see you cover …,” and “I see you’re interested in …” all fulfill the same purpose. You’re striving toward the ideal of personalization while working under the burden of a reality where you don’t have time to achieve that ideal.
I was doing a phone-pitching training with a consumer PR firm and we found that this approach also tightened up their phone pitches and built a stronger connection with journalists right away.
Use this simple hack to get results even when bosses don’t give you the license to apply your expertise. Then, after you’ve built a track record of unassailable success, good managers will give you autonomy to work how you want and where you want, because they know you’ll deliver.
Michael Smart teaches PR professionals how to dramatically increase their positive media placements. He’s engaged regularly by organizations like General Motors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Georgia Tech to help their media relations teams reach new levels of success. Get more media pitching knowledge from Michael Smart here.