Back To Pitching Basics

Despite having a set of guidelines on how to pitch me positioned prominently on my site, I continue to receive poorly targeted and poorly-written pitches on a daily basis.

I’ve written in the past about some bad pitches and some really bad pitches I’ve received, and given my advice on those pitches. This time, though, instead of looking at how to pitch, I want to take a look at why a good pitch is necessary.

Let’s consider a straight news release, emailed to someone, against a decent pitch.

A straight news release:

  • Costs little to send per recipient;
  • Takes little or no additional time to draft per extra recipient;
  • Is likely targeted at one or two key audiences;
  • Addresses every recipient the same way;
  • Takes no account of the recipient’s interests or previous work;
  • Does nothing to develop a relationship with the recipient;
  • Has to go through many layers of approval throughout the organization, with many hands making changes;
  • Is generally written to please multiple stakeholders, both internal and external, so gets diluted;

A tailored pitch:

  • Requires research, time and editing for each recipient;
  • Is targeted at the recipient;
  • Addresses each recipient differently;
  • Can refer directly to interests and past work;
  • Can help to build a relationship with the recipient;
  • Is likely to be subject to less peoples’ tinkering than a release;
  • Is written for one purpose and one audience, so can be focused.

In every instance except one – cost – the tailored pitch comes out ahead. The untailored news release is cheaper to send to lots of people, but at what sacrifice?

  • No relationship;
  • No relevance;
  • Reliance on the law of averages to obtain coverage.

In the economic environment we’re in, we’re unfortunately unlikely to always have the budget to tailor every single pitch the way we’d like to. However, even a compromise pitch that acknowledges areas of interest, geographic relevance or an existing relationship is better than a straight news release. In a worst-case scenario, I know I’ve recommended pitching fewer journalists, but doing it well, rather than going out ineffectively to a big bcc’d mailing list.

What would you do if you found yourself with a low time and/or budget for your media (or blogger) outreach? Would you go with a news release to many, a tailored pitch to fewer, or would you take a different approach?

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.