The Evolution of the PR Pitch
Everyone in PR knows the pitch has changed considerably over the years as email, social media, and real-time journalism continue to shape how we tell stories, and how news is created and shared.
Today, when the media is no longer our gatekeeper, the credibility of influencers is often questioned, and anyone with a smartphone is considered a ‘citizen journalist’, is the pitch still relevant? I think it’s more important than ever because it provides PR pros with great opportunities to tell unique stories using a mix of creative and engaging content, and to garner all-important earned media.
Of course, the practice of the pitch has changed (remember when it was sometimes as simple as writing a press release and faxing it to your list of media contacts?) Let’s take a look at the evolving fundamentals of the PR pitch: storytelling, audience, and content.
Evoke Emotions and Tell Sharable Stories
Pitching is storytelling. You’re conveying the value of your information, its usefulness, and relevancy. It goes without saying that facts, truth, and transparency are key when promoting your news to a particular journalist, analyst, or influencer.
But you need to do more than just grab their attention; you want to grab the attention of their readers, followers, and fans, too.
What helps make a story shareable?
Marketing professors from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School recently examined viral storytelling and found that the emotions a piece of content produces (happy, sad, or angry) played a major part in its success. They also discovered that the overall success of a particular article is directly linked to the positive messages of the content.
This ability to evoke emotions, leading the reader to take action and share content, is directly linked to valuable storytelling.
Knowing Your Influencers and Target Audience
You can’t pitch properly if you don’t know your target audience―knowing who to pitch is as important as knowing what to pitch. The Internet has drastically changed where, how, and by whom news is offered. Journalists are no longer simply connected to a single media outlet—bloggers and independent websites are abundant across the web. Not to mention, 67% of Americans access at least some of their news via social media.
Because readers are accessing news via blogs, major news sites, Facebook, and Twitter, understanding the audience you’re targeting―and how they consume news in different channels―is vital to pitching with success.
It’s also important to know which influencers best connect to your target audience/demographic. Who shapes opinions and provides subject-matter expertise? It’s important to make influencers part of your pitch and establish strong relationships with them because they can have significant power in sharing your story and amplifying your content. (Tip! An influencer marketing platform can help you identify key influencers in your industry. I think this is a must-have for any of you who are serious about reaching your audience.)
Promoting Interest and Engagement with Great Content
There are so many ways to tell a great story that go beyond the written word with multimedia. Using creative and engaging content in your pitch can not only help to contextualize your story, but it also provides your influencer (and their audience) with shareable content.
As you prepare your pitches, think about incorporating these assets:
- Photos, images, and infographics
- Links to news articles, research papers, and other thought-leadership content
- Video clips and interviews
- Access to upcoming events (in person and live streamed)
The press release still plays a valuable part of the pitch and it, too, has undergone significant improvements to help PR pros tell stories (and not just present facts). Press releases can support a well-rounded mix of multimedia (high-definition images and video, data-driven infographics, etc.) (Tip! Download our whitepaper to learn more about using video in press releases.)
While the goals of the pitch remains the same, the tools and tactics PR pros have at their disposal today continue to evolve. What are you doing to tell more creative, engaging, and shareable stories?
*This post is part of our December newsletter, CONNECT. Read more articles here.