“PR, as an industry, often comes under attack for its inability to map results back to tangible business benefits,” comments Kimberly Youngstrom, Group Vice President, MWW Public Relations. “While intuition and experience are essential, PR programs need the substantiation and justification that sound research and analysis can provide.” For your next PR pitch, instead of falling back on old habits, take a moment to think about strategy and see if it can help you elevate your game. Here are four steps that will help you take more strategic–and intentional–approach to your work.

Step 1: Do Your Homework Before You Define Your Next PR Pitch Strategy

Building any PR pitch strategy should start with research. In a previous post, 5 Ways to Turbocharge PR with Media Monitoring, we explored how monitoring tools facilitate brand, competitive, and industry research.

As Tanya Rynders, PR consultant explains, “When developing a PR strategy, I use competitive insights to ensure that my team doesn’t replicate an already existing idea. We also seek to uncover audiences that aren’t currently being targeted.”. She adds that research is also necessary for “keeping up with media outlets that typically write about your brand or product and staying on top of current discussions and trends in real time.”

Monitoring tools enable us to conduct this research in an efficient and timely way. On the macro level, monitoring tools expose our companies overall brand perception as well as perceptions of our competition, industry, and even customer segments. On a micro level, these tools uncover press and social media discussions about products or services similar to those we’re pitching. The greater our awareness of the competitive landscape, the better prepared we’ll be to achiever our goal: create the right message, to the right audience, at the right time.

Step 2: Set Clear, Tangible Goals

Too often, we pitch for the sake of pitching. Maybe our boss has demanded “a press release each week,” or maybe we’re trying to stay busy and show results. But we all know that you’ve got understand what you’re trying to achieve if you hope to achieve anything worthwhile. Here are some questions that will help us set our sites on a clear, tangible goal:

  • Who is our message ultimately trying to reach?
  • What message(s) do we want to deliver to that customer?
  • What are we hoping to achieve?

With answers to these questions, we’ll be able to develop a clear, one sentence campaign goal, which will help keep our messaging and outreach strategy focused. If we know why we’re pitching and what we are trying to achieve, the next steps to completing our PR pitch strategy will be that much easier.

Step 3: Hone Pitch Messaging Based on Research

By now we understand our customer and competitive environment, and we’ve set a clear goal. We’re ready to shape our message. What we have to say should feel newsworthy to the influencers we’re trying to engage, resonate with customers, and align to our business objectives and and brand voice.

Youngstrom sums up the correlation between research and messaging nicely: “At the end of the day, great insights provide opportunities to tell unique stories that resonate with target audiences.”

A well-crafted pitch should be concise and easily digestible.  It should inspire action and, as Youngstom points out, it should resonate. It can take some time to craft a message that achieves these results. Write a first draft, then spend time trying to poke holes in it. Share it with a colleague or two for feedback. If needed, edit, and edit some more.

Step 4: Identify and Understand Media Targets

With our pitch messaging completed, its time to decide on a distribution channel and find influencers that will help us to reach our customer.

Don’t spam your message to every contact you have. We’re all flooded by communications and no one likes getting ones that having no relevance to them. Instead, ask yourself who would appreciate learning about what you have to say. You can start narrowing your list down by further asking yourself if your message is best suited for a broadcast approach (press release) or more personal approach (individual pitching). Does the message have mass appeal or will it get better pick-up if we pitch it to a narrower, more targeted list of influencers? For example, if we represent a tech firm announcing a merger with another firm we have a mass-appeal message, in which case a press release may be best.  If we are the same firm announcing an upgrade to a current product ,our message has a narrower appeal, and we should focus on select influencers.

We’ll want to build our media list based on the subjects journalists in our niche are already writing about. With the right tools it should take minutes to determine which journalists have covered our competition, industry, and subject matter regardless of beat. Combine that list with journalists with whom we’ve built relationships and we’re ready to go!

Ultimately, PR pitch strategy is the foundation to campaign success. In simple terms, it means thinking through every decision you make so that it yields the best possible results—instead of functioning on auto-pilot. PR professionals bring to the table a strategic way of thinking about the communication between a company and its customer and it’s extremely important that we remember this as we approach every project. If we follow the above steps and use the available PR software tools, developing good strategy can be quicker and much more effective.