Creative pop culture link wins big coverage

All the TV season premieres last week reminded me of an awesome pitch I saw over the summer.

You’ll learn from its creativity, customization, and brevity.

Matthew McWilliams was brainstorming ways to get the small university he represents some buzz. He thought about one of the history profs at his school who studies medieval Europe, the setting depicted in the hot HBO series “Game of Thrones.”

But he did better than defaulting to the old approach of merely issuing a media availability for the prof to comment on the series. Matthew worked with him to write an essay about the real historical basis for a much-hyped upcoming episode.

Then Matthew used pitches like the following one (to HuffPo) to get the essay in front of writers who cover the show. Note the personalization, conversational style, lack of background on his “client”, and focus on what’s in it for the writer:

[writer’s first name],

I read HuffPo's Game of Thrones episode recaps each week. As you may know, this Sunday's GoT duel promises to be one of the bloodiest and most intense television events of the year.  

What many viewers don't know is that the fight has echoes upon echoes of actual history.  

Dr. Steven Isaac of Longwood University has researched these parallels, which are eerily similar to what viewers will see this weekend. I've summarized the highlights below:

[three bullets]

If you're interested in more, here's a link to the full essay.

 Let me know if you're interested in using it—and please feel free to use pieces in articles you have planned.

Here’s the resulting HuffPo piece, and Matthew also scored with a direct pitch to The Atlantic.  It also hit the WSJ after a reporter was Googling after the episode aired and found Matthew’s online article about the essay.

I got to see this pitch in draft form when Matthew shared it with me on one of my private Q&A webinars. He took advantage of his membership in my Inner Circle program to get my take on it, and I helped him tune it up a bit (although the idea was all his and would have been successful without it).


This article was originally published on September 20, 2014

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