Inside the Profession

Friday Five: Think of Pitching as a Relationship

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The relationship business is a hard one, but that is what separates the good and thoughtful public relations professionals from those who bombard you with emails. Two of the most stressful tasks that all public relations professionals, no matter their career level, are charged with is pitching their clients to the media and developing new business pitches. The key to successful pitches is building relationships with key influencers in the media who can help build a solid case for your client.

In this week’s PRSA “Friday Five” post — an analysis of the week’s biggest public relations and business news and commentary — we explore the various elements of smart pitches, advise against a number of pitching missteps, and look at one freelance writer who successfully garnered the skill of pitching, resulting in a 500-word piece for a travel publication.

5 Traps You Have to Avoid When Pitching Bold Ideas (Fast Company)

For public relations professionals, pitching is most closely associated with the media, but what about pitching other important stakeholders, such as clients? When pitching an innovative idea to clients, you may find that challenges can persist, especially if the client is resistant to the idea. Winning the client over has more to do with how you present the idea. Fast Company contributor, Mark Rolston, provides tips on how to re-frame your pitch. Here are a few of his suggestions:

  • “See the problem trough the client’s eyes.” Treating customers as “mere” clients is too often the foundation from where challenges arise. Our design role is often only a small part of the overall strategy one of our clients — or perhaps it’s better to call them customers — must put in place, especially in the world of product development. Whatever role you play when working with your customers, be mindful that the project does not revolve around you, it revolves around everyone working toward the customer’s common goal.
  • “Find the lens your client is looking through.” Come to table ready to discuss your ideas in terms of a story that consist of three core lenses: narrative, parametric and experiential. The client is likely to be looking through one of these three lenses, and by structuring your story according to these parameters you are more likely to secure the client’s confidence.
  • “Stay at the negotiation table.” Progressively disclose the evolution of your ideas and the corresponding design artifacts to help to bring the customer along for the ride, thereby developing their deeper understanding of the work.

7 Things Journalists Wish PR Pros Knew About Pitching (Ragan’s PR Daily)

PR Daily contributor, Becky Gaylord, is a former journalist who now handles public relations for clients, can now empathize with both sides when it comes to pitching. This week, she offers seven secrets that that will help you become a more solid public relations professional, especially when it comes to pitching media.

  • “Get to know the media folks you’ll need before you need them. Relationships are everything. Your call will be returned and your email answered much more quickly if it’s not a cold pitch.”
  • “Respect media deadlines.” Notice the rhythm of the day for the media people you need to reach most often. Keep in mind the journalist’s timing and honor their preferences for receiving pitches and any other collateral material.
  • “Provide information promptly without interrogating.” Solid public relations professionals get back to the journalist promptly with the information requested and do not cross-examine media about their intentions.

7 Reasons Why Your Agency Pitch Doesn’t Work (iMedia Connection)

When pitching a new client, public relations agencies need to think about what will make them stand out and seem desirable as partners. Many agencies are repeat offenders of bad pitching habits, with one result being a pile of non-distinctive presentations and pitches. iMedia Connection contributor, Jim Nichols, delivers seven common ways that agencies miss the mark in the pitch process.

  • “You don’t sound different. Find a way to say and show something truly different. Think about what really does make you different. Stop trying to be all things to all people.”
  • “You didn’t read the RFP. You need to answer all of the questions outlined in an RFP, and do so in a manner that makes finding and consuming the information easy and efficient.”
  • “You have no point of view. Whether or not a client has asked for it, it’s always valuable to demonstrate some real thinking about their business, and to posit some ideas for discussion that relate specifically to their challenges.”

Journalism Vet Asks PR Pros: Why Fight — Don’t We Really Need Each Other in the End? (CommPro.Biz)

Can’t we all just get along? Former print and broadcast journalist James Zambroski believes that problems occur between public relations professionals and journalists because neither side has sufficient respect for the job done by the other. He argues the interactions between the two should be a win-win situation and not a struggle to determine who is in control. Public relations professionals should remember that the vast majority of news stories require same-day turnovers, and occasionally, there are requests for immediate interviews. This may not be ideal, but has become the nature of the news world, especially with the adoption of all things social and digital. Just as public relations professionals rely on journalists to publish stories about something topical and current, their client is doing, so should journalist be able to rely on public relations professionals to provide information at a moment’s notice.

How One Writer Went From Pitch to Publish (mediabistro)

Using her knowledge and passion for Greek food and culture, freelancer Alexis Adams crafted a well-researched query that was perfectly pegged to AFAR, a multi-platform travel media brand that inspires and guides those who travel the world to connect with its people, experience their cultures and understand their perspectives. Adams caught the attention of AFAR senior editor, Derk Richardson, who described Adams as someone who pitched from first-hand experience and had done significant research. Richardson felt that Adams had delivered, in detail, the elements that would go into the story and not just a general concept. Adams transformed her query into a 500-word piece for the travel publication.

Nicole Castro is the public relations associate at the Public Relations Society of America.

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