It’s not what you pitch, it’s WHO

I’ve spent the last week reviewing about a hundred tweets from journalists about PR pitches . . . and I came to a somewhat surprising conclusion.

First of all, yes, after I got through all of them, I had an urge to take a shower. Journalists can get pretty frustrated by misguided pitches. But the more I dug into them and looked for patterns, the more hints I saw that pointed me to this conclusion:

It’s usually not what you pitch, it’s WHO you pitch.

Many of the pitches in question weren’t baseless – they just shouldn’t have been sent to the particular journalist who took offense. I can’t know if the sender just blasted a list indiscriminately, or did a surgical but mistargeted approach. Based on my experience reviewing thousands of pitches over the years, my guess is that both flawed strategies were to blame.

That’s why my media relations workshop spends the first day teaching new ways to think about WHO to target and how to get noticed by them. And then the second day is about WHAT to pitch them, and how.

Applying this shift in thinking – and a specific formula that grows out of it – is what propelled one workshop participant to land interviews with the BBC and the Telegraph, and interest from the New York Times.

“I’ve done a lot of media relations and taken a lot of workshops, but never really benefited from it like I did with what I learned from you,” said Henri Vies, a media relations vet who runs a team of pitching pros for Proof Strategies in D.C. “Within two months of the workshop, we’ve had really great results with outlets we hadn’t dreamt of getting in touch with.”

My next workshop is in San Francisco at the end of March. It’ll be the first time on the West Coast in three years, so we anticipate demand will be high and that it could sell out.

If you decide to join us, I guarantee it will be worthwhile.

After we wrapped up in New York last fall, Ashley Gibson of Epic in Wisconsin told me:

I learned more actionable info in these two days than I've learned in a full year of classes in my master’s program for PR.

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