In the last training episode, we discussed what it means to pitch the media and why it's an important strategy to add to your marketing mix as a solo professional. In this episode, I explain exactly how to craft a great pitch that gets attention.
I think you'll see that this it's not as difficult as it sounds. In fact, for many freelancers and solopreneurs, once they start crafting media pitches, it becomes something they want to do regularly.
Your Information Must Be Newsworthy and Relevant
The first rule is to always pitch newsworthy information. This is not a place to pitch your services (at least not directly). Newspapers, TV stations, magazines and other media outlets don't really care about your services. However, they do care what your business can do for their audience.
It's also important to pitch only the media outlets that would be potentially interested in your story. They need to see the relevance of your story and angle to their target audience.
When developing your pitch, keep in mind that you know your product or services better than anyone else. You're also the best person to articulate why you're the expert on the topic. So, start there. Write down exactly why you would make an ideal expert to be quoted in a news story. And make sure to back up your claims of expertise with solid evidence.
Let's say you are a small business consultant who works specifically with helping businesses master social media. You've been able to get all your clients set up and thriving with their social media efforts. In fact one business confirms that their customer traffic has doubled since your social media efforts started. You could pitch on the importance of social media and how businesses who aren't utilizing social media in their marketing campaigns, are losing out on potential clients. You can provide a few secrets that state your case even more showing your expertise and that you thoroughly know your topic.
These statements are the seeds for your soundbites-short statements you can use when crafting your pitch.
Pick a Narrowly Targeted Audience
Next, decide on your audience. Know whom you want to target and why that target audience is a good fit. Sure, it would be wonderful to be on national TV. But it can be just as powerful to get your story in front of a much smaller yet narrowly targeted audience that's full of potential prospects for your particular solo business.
Come Up With a Compelling Topic
From here, your job is to come up with a compelling and relevant topic. You have to come up with a unique angle and be ready to explain why your story is not only relevant, but newsworthy.
Can you relate it to a hot current event, an upcoming holiday or a problem many people are experiencing right now (and for which you have a solution)? Or can you talk about something new and different that can make a huge difference for your target audience? Make that connection between what you offer and what the media is looking for. Don't expect them to see it on their own.
As a great example here, say you have a new grilling tool that makes barbequing outside even faster and more convenient. This can be a perfect pitch for Father's Day and 4th of July pitches. Notice how many media outlets run "Best Father Day Gift Ideas." Wouldn't it be great to be included with those?
At the same time, don't pitch the same thing that everyone else is pitching. Yes, it's great to pitch or write on a popular topic, but you have to find a unique twist on that topic-something that will capture people's imaginations. If you say what everyone else is saying, you won't get far.
For example, one of my clients has a parenting book. We realized that creating a pitch about the book itself and about how it's something all moms need to read is not going to generate any interest. There are tons of parenting books out there already.
However, with summer coming up, we decided to craft a pitch about all the moms who are trying to figure out what to do with the kids during their summer vacation. My client's book contains dozens of ideas on that topic, so we made that connection, and it worked! Not only did we get featured in over six parenting journals and websites, but also one major parenting publication decided to give our book away at their next contest giveaway (which gained us major attention in their magazine). Also, this publication included our article to their newsletter with thousands of subscribers. It's so nice when it works! And when you take the right steps it will work more often than not.
How to Write Your Pitch
Now that you have ideas for your pitch, let's go over the basics for writing it.
First, get to the point quickly and lead in with your best stuff. Don't save the best for last; it just won't get read. You need to capture their attention immediately.
Second, keep your pitch short and sweet. I often email my pitches, so I add an introductory paragraph or two that summarize why the reporter would be interested. I sometimes also add my press release or article, but not always. You can also just send a pitch without a release or article and let the pitch stand on its own.
Third, stay with one general theme or big idea. Too often, people try and cram as many ideas as they can in the pitch, thinking that if one idea doesn't interest them, they might be interested in something else. But all this does is create confusion and hamper your success. Instead, keep it to just one focused idea and save the others for your next pitch.
Finally, be cautious of the tone of the pitch. Remember, even though you're pitching, you're also trying to build relationships with the reporters and editors to whom you're sending these. That way, if your idea is not a good fit now, they'll hopefully still consider you for a future story. So make sure to keep your tone friendly and professional.
Now that you have a little better idea on the basics of pitching, it's time for you to get busy. First, write down why you're an expert on your topic, including some bullet points or soundbites.
Next, decide what current event, newsworthy angle or twist you can use to make your pitch stand out.
Now that you have the newsworthy topic and why you're the ideal expert to be quoted, get busy writing your pitch.
In the next episode in this series, we'll go into more detail on how to send out that pitch to increase your chances of success.
Diana Ennen is the President of Virtual Word Publishing, http://www.virtualwordpublishing.com offering PR and marketing services. She has been featured on Fox Business News, CBS, CNN Radio, USA Today, Woman's World, Entrepreneur Magazine and so many more. She's also the author of six books on starting your own business including VA the Series: Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA, and So You Want to be a Work-at-Home Mom. Contact her at Diana@virtualwordpublishing.com or @dianaennen for a free PR Informational Package.