What journalists won’t say

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Yesterday I spoke about media pitching at a conference where 10 of the speakers presenting after me were journalists.

I warned the audience that I was going to say things that some (or all of the journalists) might disagree with. How can this be? My job is to help you understand how to be successful building relationships with journalists. So how can you do that if I’m telling you to directly contradict some of the advice they give out themselves?

Because when those journalists – generous and helpful as they are – are sitting up there on stage on those panels, they are thinking about their typical interactions with PR pros. If you want to keep getting typical results, then their general recommendations will be enough for you.

But if you want extraordinary results – if you want to be an outlier – then you need to thoughtfully violate some of the conventional wisdom journalists share at conferences like this and on social media.

Think about it from their perspective – they’re getting hundreds of emails a day that ramble on and on and dribble out buzzwords and jargon and hype and spin. So naturally they’re going to say – “Just tell me about your product or service. Just the facts.”

And they aren’t going to remember that last week, a single extraordinary PR pro wrote them a carefully crafted email – without a single wasted word – that explained a whole new angle beyond merely the product or service.

Or when they say, “Don’t follow up with me – if you don’t hear back, that means I didn’t like it.” They’re thinking about all those emails they get every day that simply forward the original email, which was just the same press release blasted to all their competitors.

They’re not thinking about that thoughtful note that shared an additional asset that wasn’t included in the initial pitch. That actually saved them from missing a great story, because they totally missed the first email in the deluge they swim through every day.

If your overriding objective is to avoid committing some theoretical “cardinal sins” of media pitching, then you’ll probably achieve that objective. And you miss out on coverage you could have otherwise gained.

Don’t be constrained by the errors of the masses. Stand out from the crowd by doing what’s right for your particular pitch for your particular targets.

This article was originally published on May 03, 2018.