3 Tips to Nail Your Next Pitch

May 14, 2020



Publicity and sales have quite a bit in common. For starters, they both require a compelling pitch. And just like in sales, a weak pitch will translate into suboptimal results.

So today we’ll take a look at a media pitch that veteran industry reporter Kate Berry thought was so good, she said it deserved to be in a PR course at USC. It was a pitch that was sent to her by my agency’s director of communications Mike Murray.

What did Mike’s pitch say?

Here it is:

“Hi Kate,

I read your article, “CFPB gets earful from consumers about mortgage servicers” and really enjoyed it—although I’m not sure why Kathleen Engel believes making an announcement on Netflix or Amazon would be more helpful than local television news programs.

In any case, I don’t have to tell you that unemployment numbers are at their worst since the Great Depression and MBA reports more than 38 million mortgages, or 7.91 percent, were in forbearance as of May 3rd. Today’s MBA Delinquency Report said delinquencies increased— albeit slightly—in the first quarter. 

It would be interesting to know how mortgage borrowers at credit unions are faring and what the outlook is for mortgage delinquencies not just today but in a post-COVID-19 and post-forbearance environment either later this year or into 2021. Would this be a good American Banker story?

At the end of his email, Mike offered Kate a couple of great sources for the article.

So, what made Mike’s pitch so good? Let’s break it down.

1. Our publicist regularly reads trade publications 

According to Kate, “The reason [the media pitch] was so perfect was he mentioned a story I just wrote—showing he knows what’s going on—you wouldn’t believe the idiotic pitches I get from PR folks who have no clue what I write about. I still have to sift through them in case something is worthwhile, you know. But it’s a slog.”

Needless to say, citing a reporter’s published article and providing intelligent commentary on it is a great way to capture a reporter’s attention. 

2. Our publicist truly understands the industry

Mike’s pitch clearly respected the reporter’s intelligence and made it clear that he knew his stuff. It was not “an idiotic pitch.” I’ve read that some reporters get an average of 200 pitches per day. And as Kate pointed out, many of them are terrible.

Our publicist assessed the news, figured out a news angle that would be valuable to a reporter, and offered Kate a recommendation on an article topic she could cover. 

3. Our publicist offered to help with sources

To complete the pitch, Mike offered Kate a couple of sources from different companies, and that was also key.

Before any reporter writes an article, a time-consuming challenge is identifying sources to speak with and getting them to agree to an interview. Just coming up with fresh sources can be hard, as reporters don’t want to always quote the same people in their stories. When a publicist reaches out with a good pitch and offers a variety of readily available sources from different companies, a reporter’s job is suddenly much easier.

Compare this approach to using a company’s in-house publicist for reaching out to the media. Unfortunately, an in-house publicist is like a one-trick pony in the eyes of reporters, because they are always offering the same source, no matter what topic they are pitching. Reporters will get tired of hearing from them. That’s why publicists from a PR agency have a huge advantage—they can always offer fresh sources that fit a reporter’s need.

Let’s be clear: assuming anyone can publicize your company is a costly mistake. Much like a great salesperson, a great publicist is hard to find, and can be invaluable to a company’s success.

My advice? Make sure your staff is focused on their areas of expertise, and don’t assume that someone who can write a press release is also an effective publicist. Chances are, they’re not.

If you’d like to find out how we make companies famous through publicity, or if you want to learn about our marketing or social media services, just email us at Info@StrategicVantage.com.

By Rosalie Berg, President, Strategic Vantage