Some journalists consider PR emails and pitches nothing more than “a bunch of fridge letters,” to quote a recent tweet by Ed Zitron, author of “This is How You Pitch.”
Search for “PR pitch” on Twitter, and you’ll see why. Most are untargeted, hyperbolic or both. Some even use gimmicks to stand out.
For example, RedEye Chicago‘s Matt Lindner recently called out an email pitch for using four text colors, bold, italics, underlines and highlighting. “My eyes, they burn,” he tweeted.
Here are three tips for ensuring your pitches impress—rather than distress—today’s demanding editors and reporters:
1. Push trend pitches further. Reporters can be skeptical of trend pitches unless they are forward-looking and are supported with data.
“My advice to PR is to pitch trends that are surprises,” says Forbes staff writer Alex Konrad. “Just saying a new item fits a product type that recently launched makes me think you’re a face in the crowd. That’s already too late.”
He recommends advancing the conversation instead: “For example, if you’re pitching a Wi-Fi product, say, ‘There’s a lot happening in Wi-Fi, but we’re taking it to an unexpected place—we’re providing everything you’ve seen, but it’s faster and 10 times cheaper.'”
In addition, “We’ll pay more attention if you have data to support your pitch tied to a trend,” Konrad says. “That’s especially true for independently collected data.”
Related: Register for PR Daily’s May 19 PR University webinar ” Pitching Tech Media: Engadget, Forbes, Sprint Share Secrets of Placing in Top Tech Blogs and Media ” to reach audiences with your tech product, service or story.
2. Pitch behind-the-scenes access. The best pitches tell an interesting story that will engage an outlet’s readers. A great way to do this is to provide behind-the-scenes access to any of the challenges you faced bringing your product to market.
For example, Konrad was recently pitched the second version of the Karma Go Wi-Fi device.
“It was delayed, and the backers were frustrated, so they offered me full access to customer service reps and strategy meetings that focused on turning things around,” he says. “Fly-on-the-wall views into the challenges you’re facing will go a long way with reporters.”
3. Don’t overdo multimedia; keep it supplemental. Konrad thinks PR pros have gone too far with infographics and multimedia. “It really fleshes out a story if there’s already interest, but multimedia won’t push your story over with the editor,” he says.
Video can supplement a pitch, but most A-list media outlets prefer to shoot their own video of your product, service or location.
“We have a team here that will play with and shoot your product in our offices, or visit your offices,” Konrad says. “For example, Chicago-based Tovala had its founder, David Rabie, bring in a smart oven that cooks meals by scanning bar codes. He made us a meal, and we filmed it.”
Tovala’s original email pitch included a visual diagram detailing how the ovens work. It also explicitly stated that a demo was possible. The result was this video:
Brian Pittman is a Ragan Communications consultant and webinar manager for PR Daily’s PR University. Daniel Cooper, senior editor at Engadget; Alex Konrad, staff writer at Forbes; and Michelle Leff Mermelstein, PR manager at Sprint, will share more media relations tips in the May 19 PR University webinar, “Pitching Tech Media: Engadget, Forbes, Sprint Share Secrets of Placing in Top Tech Blogs and Media.”