What if I don’t care about your product?

There’s a certain distinction between pitching a “product” and pitching your “business” that makes a big difference in earning coverage.

A product can be any concrete output from your employer – a consumer product if that’s what you do. Or a research paper if you’re at a university, or a social-good program if you’re at a nonprofit. Those are just a few examples.

Products are generally designed to have benefits for their intended market – that’s kinda the whole point of their existence. So when you craft your pitch, you naturally end up emphasizing why this topic would be relevant to your target journalist’s readers or viewers.

Like, if you’re pitching chocolate-covered ice cream treats to a food site, you’re going to emphasize what makes your treat appealing. And that’s relevant to the type of person who surfs a food site for ideas on tasty things to try out.

But when your goal is to get an article or segment about your business (or school or hospital or nonprofit or whatever), that’s not as natural. I know this because the typical “company profile” pitch I see is simply a long list of achievements or milestones about why you think your company is so great, concluding with an offer to interview the CEO.

If I’m your target journalist, how does it help my readers or viewers to know how great your company is? What can they do differently after learning about this?

Most people looking for new treats to buy don’t care about the revenue growth of treat companies, or the safety awards they’ve won, or the diversity of their C-suite, or the other things you typically emphasize in a company pitch.

You know who does care about those things? Leaders and managers of other organizations who want to achieve similar successes. Who have zero interest in which ice cream treat to buy.

To succeed with journalists who cater to that audience, you need a different approach. Instead of focusing on the “what” you’ve accomplished, you deliver a specific story on “how” you pulled it off. So readers or viewers can implement what they learn for their own success.

That’s just one example. You can succeed with similar approaches aimed at potential investors, or potential employees, to name just a few different groups than your typical customer.

The key distinction you need to make is: When you shift from pitching a product story to a business story, you need to shift your audience, too.

P.S. My post last week about my radical summer experiment got the biggest response I’ve seen in years. All of it was positive, but I’m sure there are people out there who would disagree with my take. If you missed it, check it out and let me know where you fall.

This article was originally published on June 26, 2019

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