1 lesson from the best pitches of the year

This week I unveiled the winners of the Smart PR Best Pitch of the Year competition.

One takeaway that stood out among the winning pitches was:

Getting personal with the journalist and being yourself translates into success.

Maybe working from home erodes previous boundaries. Maybe dressing more casual makes email convos more casual. We’ll never know the reason for sure, but we definitely saw many of this year’s best pitches veer more into the conversational and informal realm. To be sure, they stayed classy and professional, not flippant or crude.

For example, Beau McDermott was looking to get his brand’s e-bike reviewed on CNET. He identified the person most likely to do the review . . . read a bunch of his previous work . . . and then reached out about a piece that wasn’t even about e-bikes but that he had a personal connection with. Then transitioned to asking about sending a bike. The reviewer responded in detail about the personal connection, then started asking about the bike. The resulting positive review won Beau the Best Pitch of the Year in our Trade category.

Tamara Sykes is always making connections wherever she goes online. You can see from her Twitter convos that she’s genuine about helping other people first. And then, if she sees a potential match with a client of her digital PR firm, she naturally and unapologetically asks if she can make an introduction. She followed that pattern when she met a budding video producer on Twitter. By keeping in touch a few months later, she found that person had landed a job working for a daily YouTube show that was a perfect match for one of Tamara’s clients. After the successful segment, the producer DMed Tamara: “Thank you for being so professional and organized. It’s been a struggle collaborating with certain publicists, but the process for your client was seamless. You should give a class.” Tamara is the runner-up in our Nontraditional Media category.

Natalie Bennon was swinging for the fences but striking out. She finally had a story she thought was worthy of the New York Times, but wasn’t getting any responses. She saw on Twitter that a relevant NYT writer offered a way to get in touch via a messaging app, so she took her shot. Their resulting exchange on the app was more like a conversational text thread than the sometimes overly formal email pitches we send top-tier journalists. After Natalie shared all the homework she’d done and assets she’d prepared, the story ended up running . . . on the FRONT PAGE. She won our Best Pitch Overall honor.

I showed screenshots of these pitches (and their preceding messaging threads) earlier this week on our Inner Circle training webinar. Along with other winners that landed CBS News, Fast Company, People, LA Times, another NYT hit, podcasts you’ve never heard of, and top local outlets in their markets.

That training session is for members only, but you can access the recording if you decide to join the next time we open enrollment.

Check out free bonus training and learn more about the IC in the meantime by registering for our Wait List.

And look for ways to lean into your natural personality and make a human connection with your pitches in 2022.

This article was originally published on December 8, 2021

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