No Substitution for Good Old Fashioned PR

While we’re all embracing new, exciting media tools for reaching out in PR, and pitching, it’s also very important to keep in mind to keep some traditional tools in your PR arsenal as well.

Too often PR agencies are spending more time these days emailing pitches to producers without picking up the phone to make that important human connection to develop a strong relationship with a producer or writer. It’s a lot easier to say no by email than it is on the phone. On the phone you have the chance to pitch many different angles as well as answer an objection or misconception about the book.

Good PR is a fine balancing of all the tools, both new and old that work to get the client the top booking on the most relevant shows and online media.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that no matter what your book or your vertical of expertise covers, your best bet of getting coverage and interest from journalists offline and online is to make sure you keep the audience of the show or the site in mind.

The best opportunities on radio shows and television shows come through a real team of seasoned individuals pitching you in real-time to producers with active and relatable news pegs. Your story has to be interesting, insightful, engaging and stand-out dramatic. It also has to fit the coverage style of the show being pitched. Good PR people are always thinking of how to make the client stand out. You can do this as well, by ensuring that your story is as clear and riveting as it can honestly be.

While email in many ways helps us all work faster, and in some instances, is the best way to communicate efficiently, you simply cannot only rely on email pitches to get you on major television or radio shows. Many producers get literally thousands of emails daily and what they are really looking for in the early hours of planning the day’s show is a real news peg coupled with experts who can speak on the topic.

Just emailing a producer a formatted generalized press release will also not capture their eye.

Another very important aspect of pitching is to have a pitch that is 30 seconds or less in regard to the story hook, the expert and the reason it will fit for the show. Too often producers are pitched storylines, angles and experts that don’t match their audience demographic or their expert need.

While an email can certainly be sent as well and include tie-ins for the pitch and the news coverage and the uniqueness of the pitch, you will also want to make sure that a phone call is also employed as part of the process.

In our agency, we have several full-time publicists who spend each morning on the phones touching base with producers and pitching our clients. We don’t blast-pitch or email blast producers en masse, instead we work very hard to take that extra time to truly provide a perfect candidate for the producer. It’s important to understand for instance if you’re pitching The Dylan Ratigan show that you would never pitch a cookbook author to the show. By creating a customized pitch for each client and for your book you will create much more potential for you to be covered on that show.

One caveat to this as well, is that in our agency our online strategist works differently than the offline PR pitching. Many times bloggers and reviewers online would rather conduct pitching via email, Twitter and LinkedIn.com. This is a different form of pitching and we’ve found it incredibly valuable in terms of reaching people online, but we know that offline should also include the phone calls!

FIVE Tips When Calling Producers:

1. Don’t stalk the producers, by calling numerous times with the same pitch.
If you have new information for the writer or producer (the author is scheduled to be on The Today Show next Tuesday, or his new book will be #5 on the NYT bestseller list next week) updating them with a quick call or email is good to keep the author’s name and expertise front and center to that producer.

2. Learn as much as you can about the show and track their news stories and coverage for at least a month to get a really clear vision of the people they have on their shows.

3. Customize your pitch to tie into their audience demographic and news of the day.

4. Get to the point quickly – know what you want to say and do NOT READ A SCRIPT.

5. Be a resource. If they are looking for something that day and you know another publicist or author that could meet their need, always share that information. Be willing to help no matter if it’s your own client or someone else’s. They’ll remember that and it helps build goodwill.

Finally, always keep in mind that the media is always working to find new stories, it is your job or your PR agency’s job to make sure you stay ahead of the news curve! Always pitch with persistence and long-term success in mind. If you’re sure it’s a good fit for the show or online media, keep pitching. Many times it’s just a matter of timing and you have to be diligent and positive that you will get that break.