In the past, anytime a new team member joined us at the agency, we would all run them through the same pitch routine: “Here's how you write a pitch, and this is what you want to accomplish.” But these days, the game is changing. Social channels upend the entire process of traditional pitching. Once forbidden tactics that would land you uncomfortably on The Bad Pitch Blog are now encouraged.
Industry influencers now encourage tweeting, commenting on a writer's articles online, following their blogs, opening Skype communities, being active in forums, sourcing through LinkedIn, and more. In fact, to land this spot in PRWeek, I pitched the news editor through e-mail off the back of a Tweet.
The Op-Ed we discussed would look at perfecting the pitch in the social media age. The art of the pitch is this: Stand out in a positive way. Here are a few key guidelines to follow:
- Be visible when you have something to say and stay away from the mob. Social media tools such as Skype, Twitter, and Facebook add valuable leverage for pitching and they actually tell you when the other party is connected. They're on, go get them. Or, if they're super active on Twitter, try pitching through a different channel. Why did I e-mail the news editor to pitch this story after her tweet? To avoid all the Twitter responses she was receiving.
- Connect to your contacts and be an information broker, not a broken record for sales. Freelancers and stringers like Skype because it's free. On LinkedIn, all of your “what am I up to” posts get seen by contacts. Drop an update every once in a while and you increase visibility without much effort.
- Flattery gets you part of the way there. Read what a target reporter writes and comment with value through online articles. When pitching a blogger, talk about their recent posts and expand on weak areas, a great option for a follow-up post, and they might need a source.
Dive into all the social media out there, pay attention to how others write – and how people respond – and give it a shot. Remember, what you pitch is public. You're often pitching a whole group, not just your actual target. How that group reacts will be a barometer of how successful you are.
Eric Seymour is VP at March Communications