A question I often get asked about approaching the media is, “do I send the same pitch to everyone?”
The answer is, it depends. I think there are two different ways to approach the media to get publicity:
1. One Size Fits All – in this approach you write one document or media pitch, and send it out to everyone on your media list whether you have hundreds or even thousands on your list.
An example of when to use this approach is if you have a story tied to a particular timing, like “Earth Day”, or want to be a journalist source on a breaking news story (an estate planning expert commenting about Michael Jackson’s death and what it means to his family).
This works if you are able to give the journalist a reason why they need to talk to you NOW. However, we’ve also sent out one-size fits all pitches for clients about an event they are holding, or a book launch for example, and still gotten coverage months down the road. Journalists often file interesting pitches for use later on, which is why it’s important to keep in touch with your key media.
The drawback to this approach is that your odds of success are lower than when you use the “custom” approach outlined below.
2. Customized Fit – with this approach you pick and choose the mediaoutlet – a newspaper, magazine or blog that you want to appear in. You carefully research the outlet, studying the kinds of articles a particular reporter covers and customize your email pitch suggesting a particular story they could do about you that is a “custom” fit with their readership. It’s the difference between getting a generic, “junk” mail type of letter and a personalized letter.
Getting a personalized pitch means you’ve learned about their reader demographics and what’s important to them, whether they do full-page CEO profiles or Q and A types of interviews, do they do trend stories, round up stories, product reviews, contests and so forth. You know the type of visuals they are looking for and have it ready if needed. You propose a particular topic or two based on their editorial calendar.
If you’ve been building your own media list, then the customized fit probably works really well for you.
Usually we do a bit of both. We’ll pick 20 – 30 of our “dream” media outlets to appear in and customize the pitch. We’ll then send a more generic media pitch to the rest of our list because often, we’ll be surprised that we’ve hit the right reporter at just the right time and they’re keen to do a story.
You’ll never know who that could be.
What approach works best for you?
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies, which she's also using for her own bling flip flop company.
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