This news ain’t gonna create itself

The best pitches I saw in 2019 increasingly had one thing in common:

The news angles were created by the PR pros themselves. They weren’t based on traditional company news.

I have a reliable perch from which to view trends like this because I run the annual Best Pitch of the Year competition, now in its sixth year. We announced the winners this week, exclusively for my Inner Circle.

Traditionally, the top pitches would be around some news, like a new initiative or book or thought leadership stance. More recently, however, the winners recognized they don’t have that luxury anymore, to wait for their organizations or clients to do something even marginally cool. As you know painfully well, unless you’re a huge company, there is no longer a reporter assigned to your beat who is looking for stuff you’re doing.

And your bosses are scurrying around crazily dealing with their own problems – they’re not thinking about how to make the business remarkable so it stands out to frazzled journalists.

So it’s on you. Here’s how some of our honorees pulled that off:

– Re-framing internal data – This winner asked colleagues for demographics about their customers into a “Top 30 Cities for Millennials” ranking and earned coverage in most of those 30 cities, which coincided with his top target markets.
– Having the courage to show warts – We know that journalists (and their audiences) love conflict. But we typically duck it in our proactive outreach. One winner repped a prestigious computer programming event that got privately hacked by a 15-year-old. Instead of hiding it, he convinced management to let him pitch a story about the wunderkind, and how the competition invited him to attend. The result was a glowing piece in a key outlet that called their competition “prestigious around the world,” taking place at “the MIT of Canada.”
– Persuading bosses to shell out for original research – You’ve seen this before, but maybe you don’t think it applies to you. Another winner, at a company that had never done anything like this before, went all-in on research and created an annual “index” for his industry. This year’s release generated more than 100 quality backlinks to his site, and trade reporters are now calling him throughout the year for comments on other news.
– Creating something entirely new – the “Best in Show” winner is an agency rep who has been pitching the same product for four years. Her winning campaign earned 83 stories in outlets that boast millions of unique visitors per month. And she did it without pitching the product at all. This pitch is so good it deserves its own post, so I’ll give you the details later :).

Inner Circle members studied these verbatim pitches, plus 14 other honorees, during my presentation earlier this week. You can get access to them too if you decide to join the next time we open up.

To be alerted the next time we’re accepting new members (and access some bonus training that will boost your pitching success rate), register on our Wait List here.

This article was originally published on December 12, 2019

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