There’s nothing more disappointing than spending an inordinate amount of time on something only to have it fail. Even worse than failure, though, is not learning from it.
If you’ve had a pitch fall flat in the past, what have you learned from it? Here are some things I’ve learned from failed pitches:
1. Have an interesting topic.
I’ve worked in the tech start-up space for the past few years, and I’ve noticed a common scenario: Someone in the C-suite wants a press release about a product launch, a closed round of funding or a product update, and no matter how you “spin” it, it’s just not that interesting.
If you have a relationship with a journalist or just happen to reach out at exactly the right time, you may be able to sneak in the announcement with a larger story. But chances are you just need to come up with something better.
Try tying your less interesting news to something journalists (and bloggers) haven’t heard before. For example, if you hire a high-profile data scientist, come up with a story around the data he uncovered and sneak in the tidbit about his recent move to your company.
2. Grab attention.
Once you’ve come up with an interesting topic, it’s important to present it in an interesting way. No one likes to read long paragraphs of text, and if no one reads your pitch, no one will write about it.
Spruce up the pitch with short paragraphs, bullet points, quotes, images, videos, infographics—whatever you can think of to grab your reader’s attention and make him want to share your story.
3. Target the right people.
Technology has made it incredibly easy to take a “spray and pray” approach to pitching. PR pros have databases upon databases of journalists to
spam reach out to, and can instantly send hundreds of emails with the click of a button.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from email marketing is that it’s all in the list. Taking time to hone in on your target audience can go a long way in getting a response, so think carefully about which publications and journalists would be interested in your story. It may take a little more time upfront, but it will be worth it.
4. Tailor your pitch to the journalist.
Building upon the previous point, carefully selecting your list allows you to research each journalist and what she has written so you can tailor your pitch to her.
Meltwater’s media database actually allows you to search for journalists by what they’ve written so your pitch can reference related articles and discuss how your story is relevant to their audiences.
5. Have a relationship with the journalist.
This isn’t crucial, but it can be the icing on the cake. You often have some time to craft your pitch and build your list, so why not prime journalists early, as well?
Once you’ve built your list, take a look at some of the articles the journalists have written, and comment on them with insightful information or questions. Then, begin sharing their content and responding to their tweets.
Building a relationship with a journalist before you need something from her will help you stand out. It can be the difference between someone publishing your story or glossing over it.
What lessons can you add to this list?
When she’s not doing marketing at Meltwater, you can find Jen Picard snowboarding in Tahoe, traveling abroad, or enjoying a night in with friends and a good bottle of wine. Follow her on Twitter, connect to her on LinkedIn and circle her on Google Plus. A version of this article originally appeared on the Meltwater Public Relations blog.