PR Training

Anchor Your Pitches to Journalists With a ‘Human Angle’

Whenever possible, pitches should be about people, not products or programs.

Readers and viewers are people — and that’s who your target journalist needs to attract and please to keep their job.

I recently reviewed a group of pitches and saw the power of this principle highlighted by two good examples and one that needed some help.

Pitch No. 1

The client is a large city bidding for Amazon’s second headquarters. But the PR pro had wisely found a new and different angle, one that’s different from all the other cities clamoring for the honor. How? His pitch was a profile of an up-and-coming minority woman leader who happened to be in charge of the bid. Her backstory is intriguing, and a profile of her will inevitably reflect positively on the city’s bid. Smart approach.

Pitch No. 2

This was the classic tech pitch — writing to “introduce” a technological tool that gauges public sentiment on issues and purports to use AI to deliver new and different insights. The pitch listed all the claims about the technology, complete with buzzwords and jargon. And at the very end it mentioned some politicians whose campaigns had used the tool to get elected. I recommended flipping the pitch around to focus on those users and leave the buzzwords on the cutting room floor.

Pitch No. 3

This pitch came from a company that provides a software platform for business leaders to mentor young people remotely (typically while the mentor is at work and the mentees are at school). I loved the pitch because the PR pro had written it around a specific cross section of mentors. She focused on female business leaders who want to mentor young women but are stretched too thin by the demands of their jobs and families to be able to regularly travel to do so. The best thing about this niche? It describes many of the journalists she would be pitching. We talked about ways she could further personalize the pitch, using the word “you” instead of “many female business leaders.”

By focusing the pitch on the mentors, not on the platform, she brought the service to life and offered her targets interesting characters to explore. My one additional suggestion was that she take the “people, not programs” principle even further and also develop some sources among another group: the students being mentored.

So remember that these stories are eventually going to be read by people, who inevitably will connect most with that human element. Therefore, if you want more successful pitches, think people, not programs.


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.

Want to dive deeper into Smart’s tips for landing more media coverage? Check out his workshop “Secrets of Media Relations Masters” or his online course “Crafting the Perfect Pitch.” 

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Michael Smart

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