“Pitch” and “pitching” aren’t going away, but they should. They’re so frequently used in agencies, corporations, not-for-profits and organizations that they appear current, reasonable and viable. But they’re not. They should be retired immediately.
Historic usage, prevalence and pithiness shouldn’t supersede relevance or appropriateness. If it did, words like colored, going steady, secretary, sissy, stewardess and mental would still be in circulation today.
Here are seven reasons why we should drop “pitch”:
1. It's a dated form of PR. We used to craft our “pitches” and try to sell them to busy reporters. Please Walt Mossberg, notice me, listen to what I have to say, and I hope (and pray) you write something. Those days are increasingly over. The world of top-down media dominance has been replaced with a never ending grassroots conversation that’s lively, engaging, empowering and direct to consumer/customer.
2. It de-positions the PR industry. Most of us have worked hard adapting to—and adopting—many historic communications transformations. We’re not there yet (and may never be), but we’re in a better place. We’re taking the PR industry to a new position where authenticity and transparency—not hype and selling—shape our practice. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go back.
3. It damages our reputation. “Pitch” and “pitching” sound old-school and pre-social media—and they are. When we say these words, they immediately date us, forcing astute listeners to categorize us as hit-and-clip, press kit-era PR dinosaurs.
4. It’s one way. Pitching epitomizes the old-world model of one-way communications. Shut up and listen, I've got something to say. I'm the pitcher, here's the pitch. I'll wait and see if you catch what I've got to say. True, the great “pitchers” of the past weren’t this crass and would initiate a conversation. But a lot of people continue to push their packaged ideas via Twitter, e-mail and Facebook without inviting or urging a conversation.
5. It’s arrogant. I don’t like it when a car salesman makes assumptions about me when we’ve never met. I don’t like it when a telemarketer reaches me at home to sell me something I’m not interested in. I don’t like it when people try to convince me to support an idea I’m not familiar with or don’t believe in. Pitching has all these attributes, and more.
6. It’s a turnoff. This approach helped give PR a negative reputation, a perception often shaped by aggressive, fake, single-minded people trying to get their way versus earning respect and building rapport.
7. It doesn’t work. Instead of pitching, let’s enter a two-way conversation, tell a story, listen, learn, invest time and treat people the way we like to be treated. We may not always get where we want to go, but we’ll build genuine relationships that have lasting value.
Andy Beaupre is co-founder & CEO of Beaupre, a communications, branding and PR company owned by Brodeur Partners. He blogs at Checkmate.