Pitching Success Stories from PR Pros in the TrenchesThere's nothing more satisfying than landing coverage from a great pitch, but the road to a published piece can be rocky for PR pros who slog day after day without much success. In this post, Michelle Garrett asks PR folks to share their stories of triumph and then distills that info into actionable tips. If you're looking for a deeper dive after reading these tips, download our on-demand webinar on successful PR pitches.
Public relations pros know how tough it can be out there in the media pitching trenches.
Just check Twitter any day of the week. You’ll see PR folks lamenting the fact that their pitches got little or no response from reporters.
You’ll also see journalists complaining about how the pitches they receive miss the mark. Check #PRfail or @SmugJourno for some of the most glaring examples.
— Kevin Scott (@KevinScottHT) January 17, 2018
— Ben Winslow (@BenWinslow) January 26, 2018
As neither side seems to be happy with the state of media relations, what should PR pros do?
There are webinars, classes, articles and books on how to improve your media relations skills and how to better pitch story ideas. But what really works?
To find out, we asked some PR pros in the media relations business to share their success stories. Here are a few examples.
Tiffany Woo, a freelance communications strategist in Los Angeles, credits research for her earned media win with Inc. magazine on behalf of a client in the health and wellness space.
Woo, who was working on an event featuring a panel of influencers, used LinkedIn to research journalists based in Los Angeles until she found the ideal reporter. Then, she did her homework by thoroughly reading the reporter’s coverage before sending her a personalized invitation to the event. She also offered the journalist the opportunity to try the client’s device.
The reporter did try it, and she also attended the event, where Woo made sure she got access to the client company’s CEO for an interview. Afterward, Woo followed up to ensure the reporter had all the resources and answers she needed.
The result was this piece of coverage in Inc. “I’m glad to have made such a great contact through diligent work, research and making sure she knew I cared about her,” says Woo.
Don’t Overlook Social Media for Opportunities
Paula Hutchings, director at Marketing Vision Consultancy in the UK, found success when she responded to a Twitter #journorequest.
“I made use of Twitter’s ‘Latest’ feature when I responded to the reporter’s #journorequest, making the process efficient and enabling me to respond in a timely manner,” Hutchings said.
The reporter tweeted that she was looking for examples of unusual ways entrepreneurs handle the stress of starting and running a business.
Hutchings sent her a pitch via email, keeping it succinct with bullet points that later became the quote featured in the journalist’s piece in Forbes, The stress-busting secrets of successful entrepreneurs. When the article appeared, Hutchings shared it via social media and thanked the journalist.
Katie Wolitarsky, a digital PR specialist for Workshop Digital in Richmond, VA, shared her approach to reach bloggers to help get the message out for a local client.
By searching for the local city hashtag on Instagram and Twitter, Wolitarsky was able to target bloggers who aligned with a health and wellness focus.
Once she found the bloggers to target, she wrote a pitch offering them the chance to experience the client’s services firsthand. The bloggers who expressed interest were able to post photos and document their visits.
This blogger outreach resulted in a blog post with photos and a positive review of the practice, including an Instagram post.
“Now that we’ve worked together and met in person, we’ve laid a good foundation for the relationship with this blogger that will help us for future opportunities,” said Wolitarsky.
Best Practices for Pitching Success
- Do your homework: No longer is it enough to shoot off a quick email to just any reporter. Use a tool like Meltwater’s media database to help with research to segment journalists by beat, location, interests, etc…
- Customize your pitches: Be sure to write your pitch with a specific reporter in mind, tailoring it to his or her beat and audience.
- Use social media: Many journalists use social media to find sources to source stories and are frequently online.
- Follow up: Remember to follow up with the journalist after an interview to make sure they have what they need.
- Don’t forget about local media: Remember that a local reporter or blogger’s story will appear online—and consumers search online first for services they need.
- Share the article: Once it appears, share the piece on social media and remember to thank the journalist.
To increase your chances of success when pitching journalists, download our on-demand webinar: The Good, the Bad, and the Best: What We Learned from Analyzing Thousands (and Thousands) of PR Pitches.