Here at INK we have a “No Soliciting” sign pasted onto our front door. It used to be on the window, but when workers came through to do some renovations, they ended up switching it to the door. Regardless, we have the sign and it is at eyes’ height so unless one is either very short or very tall, it is hard to miss. Today a gentleman came through and handed us some information on IT related business and after asking for one of our office member’s card, thanked us and scuttled away. He’ll probably call in at some point in the future to pique our interest in whatever product he was trying to sell. I assume it will be met with a quick “not interested” and maybe a comment about the no soliciting sign.
While pitching the client’s story, PR people work in a similar fashion except that instead of going door to door, they send emails or make calls (mainly send emails). Accordingly, every good PR person knows that pitching to a journalist who is well known to have a “no soliciting” sign is a waste of time and the best that could happen from that situation is if the journalist ignored it instead of subjecting it to public shame. At INK, our bread and butter is ensuring that the clients get the placements they are looking for and as such our whole existence revolves around sending the perfect pitch. It also helps when the client’s story is actually interesting.
We pride ourselves in having at least some aspects of creativity- afterall we have shown hints of brilliance in the past. The perfect pitch is something the journalist will find interesting and because of that the good PR person knows to flavor the story in a way the journalist will find tasteful. Often times the flavor is not quite consistent with what the client would like and it is difficult to explain to the client that the story they want is too concentrated for the outlet’s taste. I suppose PR people not only have to be good salespeople but also good chefs.
As a result, good communication is critical between the client and the PR team to even begin to create a well-pitched pitch. The client chooses what outlets they want placements in, and then INK goes ahead and crafts a story on the client that a journalist would find attractive. Even among industries that write about the same idea, the topics that the journalists will find worthy of their time will vary depending on their individual personalities. Usually the story will then also vary and as mentioned above, it can be hard to show the value or importance of modifying the message to a client who has one or two specific messages in mind.
Remember, we still keep the same message; we just modify it so that the journalist finds it more palatable. Consider how much pizza you have eaten in your entire life. That is the message. All the toppings are just different flavors. Undeniably, you probably prefer some type of pizza over another, but in the end… it’s just pizza. Journalists are like that and they won’t eat the metaphorical pizza unless it has the toppings they want. Thus, the perfect pitch.
In the end, however, just like the gentleman who came in and delivered his information, the end decision lies on who gets the pitch. In this scenario, it’s us, but for the pizza, it’s the journalist. Many times, it turns out that even if you do deliver the type of pizza the journalist loves to eat, they won’t bite- maybe due to some New Year’s diet resolution or maybe because they have a full plate already. A good PR person excels here as well. Rejection is normal, but the good PR person consistently sends out the perfect pitch, because even if the journalist may not be hungry for it today there is a good chance he or she may be hungry for it tomorrow.