“I have a feeling that any former commander of a cyber defense unit is going to be a pretty interesting dude – I want to hear more from him.”
That’s what a Reuters editor thought after reading a pitch about digital contact tracing. I know because she told me that while she was reading it :).
Lauren Young was kind enough to join me for a virtual training event a couple weeks ago where she reacted to 11 real pitches, live.
That quote above hints at one of my biggest takeaways from the session:
PR pros are spending too much time (or using too many words in their email pitches) setting up the problem, and not enough explaining why their source stands out from the rest offering solutions.
If you’re targeting the journalist correctly, they’re usually familiar with the problem you’re addressing. In this case, the challenges associated with contact tracing. So instead, share more details about your source’s backstory. And most importantly, deliver a strong point of view – right in the pitch. Don’t wait for the interview.
Along with that, Lauren shared that even the well-written and properly targeted pitches she gets usually lack one key ingredient – surprise.
“If there is something truly surprising, I’m interested,” Lauren said. “‘Americans aren’t prepared for retirement . . .’ Tell me something I haven’t heard before. And that’s hard.”
She also did something you barely ever see journalists do when talking about PR pitches: She ‘rewrote’ the pitches out loud to make them better. She’s got a unique combination of generosity and creativity when it comes to looking at a pitch that’s not quite there yet and then pushing it across the finish line.
She also told us:
The session with Lauren is available only for members of my Inner Circle. They watched it live, they asked her questions, and now they’re using quotes from the 20-page transcript to tell their bosses or clients what top journalists really need from us.
Those resources live on inside our training vault, along with similar pitch reviews I’ve done with journalists from Today, the Washington Post, the WSJ, and more.
If you’d like to learn more about the Inner Circle and how you can access those pitch review sessions, you should register for our Wait List and check out the bonus material I’m sharing over the next few weeks.
This article was originally published on August 26, 2020
(I’ll also send you other weekly tips)