Two days ago I watched and listened as a Today producer reviewed 15 pitches out loud, one after the other, rapid-fire. It was the closest I’ll ever get to reading the mind of a top-tier influencer.
And I wasn’t the only one – my Inner Circle members witnessed it, too. She was generous enough to join me for our monthly Master Class so we could hear pitching tips straight from the source.
And the members delivered – she requested more information about five of the pitches! That’s an incredible ratio for such a hard-to-reach outlet.
After a month of arranging and preparing for the experience, here’s my primary takeaway:
Successful top-tier media pitching is all about developing deep empathy for the individual influencer you’re targeting.
Before the program, I sorted through the pitches the members had submitted for her consideration. In a way, I was acting as a proxy for her, seeking to identify the ones that had the best chance at success, and put them in the right order. I had interviewed her twice by phone and carefully watched a couple episodes of her show so that I would know what to look for.
Obviously, I have a lot of experience with media relations – I review members’ pitches every month during our pitch review sessions. But reading these pitches – as a stand-in for her – crystallized my thinking in a way that had never happened before. It was way easier to sift and sort the winners and to spot the elements that deserved emphasis and those that needed to be cut.
By the end of the live class, I felt like I was coming very close to being able to “impersonate a Today producer.” Not just to share her evaluation of newsworthiness – but to understand what it’s like to BE her. A real person, with an apartment in NYC, a looming election to cover, demanding bosses and a job that’s sometimes exhilarating and other times exhausting.
My lesson learned: Don’t merely customize your pitch. Empathize your pitch.
Think of the human being you’re sending it to. Pull up his/her photo on LinkedIn. Watch, listen, or read their content. Wonder what their day has been like. Consider the relationship they feel with their audience – and how protective they are of that. And only then start using your keyboard as a paintbrush to create a picture in their mind of the idea that will thrill their audiences and make their lives easier.
Or you can keep copying and pasting the same pitch to multiple people and getting nowhere :).
P.S. We’re accepting new Inner Circle members in two weeks – the recording of this session with the Today producer will be available for those who join. If you signed up for Preview Pass, you’ll get early notification and a head start to secure one of the limited number of slots. If you didn’t sign up, you’ll have a shorter window to secure any slots that remain, so watch your email closely.
No, I’m not providing details on how to change careers and become a prestigious Today show producer. But after working with one for my most recent Inner Circle webinar, I’ve got some new insights on how you can mentally become one to improve your pitches.