Archive for the ‘Pitch’ Category

Media Relations: Twitter Edition Part Deux

December 24, 2010 1 comment

Make Twitter a useful tool for media relations

Well, I apologize for not posting in a while.  I’ll start posting more frequently, and with Christmas just around the corner, what better time of year to continue blogging by giving you all the gift of knowing how to pitch on Twitter? Two posts ago, I gave some basics about using Twitter to connect with the media. As always, it’s important to form a relationship with journalists and other groups you are targeting, and it is important to realize the duties and constraints they have.  That is all well and good, but what are some specifics on what you need to do to get the media person you want?

Maya Wasserman offers 8 tips on how to pitch using Twitter. I’ll highlight seven of these tips while referencing a similar post by Nathan Hangen as well as a post co-written by Adam Vincenzini and Lacey Haines. The 8th tip is one from the Hangen article.

  • “Develop and strengthen your online brand first.” Maya covers some of the basics any twitterer…tweeter?…twittite? (nevermind) should follow: be credible, offer valuable information, engage others, and be interesting. Hangen makes a good point about not just trying to “sell” your pitch. On your own Twitter feed, offer some information other than your pitches. Show another side of yourself.
  • “Find the actual journalist, rather than the publication.” This one she admits takes time, but of course, the dividends can pay off. Resources like MediaOnTwitter, Twitter lists, and the journalists’ publication websites (as they are posting their staff’s Twitter handles)  are good starts for finding and organizing the journalists you may want to target.
  • “Build a relationship first. Chances are, you are going to follow what someone says if you trust him or her opposed to someone you don’t know. The same applies for journalists and communicators. Relationships are key, and to build a relationship with journalists, retweet them, answer their questions, and comment on not just their Twitter feeds, but their blogs and articles as well. Maya tells us that Twitter is a “great place” to be a resource for reporters so accommodate them by “listening and learning”. Hangen tells us (article posted here again) that using automated services to auto-tweet links is not the right way to go. They lack personality, so when pitching, be conversational and casual. Don’t come off as someone just trying to sell something.
  • “Brevity is not only key, it is necessary.” 140 characters isn’t that much space, so condense what you have to say by stating what is absolutely necessary for the journalist to know. Vincenzini and Haines’ article (posted here again) referenced people that preferred the limit on Twitter, especially in regards to an e-mail pitch, so not only can a 140 character pitch be done, it may be the best route to go. Hangen mentions that the pitch should not just be made on Twitter though, links to your blog, copy should be available too. Make sure that these and similar links are identified as such as people do not want to be “tricked” into clicking on something.
  • “Use PitchEngine.” Maya proposes this as a relatively easy way to format your pitch and connect with people in an efficient way, and PitchEngine lets you edit and interact with your pitch even after it’s been sent out.  The key here that Maya points out for Twitter, is that this kind of pitch can fit within that pesky (at times) character limitation. This reinforces the point Hangen makes about having more in your pitch than a 140 character message.
  • “DM when possible.” DM or direct message your pitch to your target journalist. This means the journalist has to be following you, so hopefully that is the case if you’ve built a relationship with them.  Wasserman states that “@ replying” is an option, but one must be aware  that the pitch is made public that way, so DMing is  journalists a good way to keep your pitch private. In the Vincenzini article, the authors note that some reporters prefer the DM because they already have a relationship with you, and because the reporter also does not want competitors to know who he or she is talking to.
  • “It helps if the client you are pitching is on Twitter, too.” Having one less obstacle/medium to get over is a nice advantage for getting your pitch out. This is the case if you, your client, and your journalist are all able to connect to each other easily on the same platform.
  • Use “Social Proof”. Hangen tells us to leverage your social network to help your pitch. Having others support your pitch or product is more effective than you pitching by yourself.

All of these tips are very useful when thinking about pitching on Twitter, and hopefully they can help you get your pitch out there.


Finding Someone to Catch

From the last post, we saw that having a genuine knowledge and interest in the blog you are sending your pitch to is a top priority. In conjunction, you should know what information you want to get out, but who exactly are you supposed to send your pitches to? Are they the ones you or your company personally likes? Or are they the most popular blogs? What other things do you need to consider?

Arik Hanson,  from Communication Conversations,  says to come up with a list of blogs to send your pitch to.  The best way to do this is to research your potential audience, and Hanson provides some good preliminary tips. He proposes to use Google, check blogger rankings on Technorati, find out who they write about and who writes about them, and to use other statistical research methods. If you follow his ideas, you will find yourself with a fairly concise list of well written and established blogs you want to send your pitch to. These blogs tend to be well trusted in the industry as well. Using these instructions will also give you a vast amount of information about your blogger that will help you establish a genuine relationship with them.

According to  public relations business owner Lisa Gerber’s PR/Blogger Relations Manifesto,  communicators need to share and understand the goals you and your blogger have. These tips are good to see if you and your target are compatible in starting and maintaining a prosperous relationship. She also wants practitioners to understand that the total audience is not the most important thing.  The active audience that will act upon and spread the message is.  The whole point of finding the right blogger is to have people  who see the message actually do something about it.  This means really finding information on the author.  Of course, that takes time, because not only are you examining what they do, you are examining who they are.

Categories: Blogger, Pitch

How to Throw a Perfect Pitch

Pitching to a blogger takes time to develop, like a slow 66mph curve from Livan Hernandez

Despite observing a Nationals pitching staff that was anything but perfect in baseball this past year, I have seen enough to know how to throw at least a good pitch to bloggers. Just like in baseball, there should be a camaraderie between pitchers and catchers in the blogosphere, and there’s never been a time when this relationship has been so important.  So how are you supposed to develop that kind of relationship? Well, maybe the best way to explain what to do is to explain what not to do.

Don’t do what Rob Bresnahan did by trying to slip his pitches past bloggers without getting to know his bloggers. Bresnahan sent generic news releases advertising products to The Bad Pitch Blog through an automated distribution program.  This is absolutely the wrong way to be sending out your pitches.  It lacks personalization and authenticity, two things that I’ll discuss later that bloggers want to see.  The recipient of these not only turned Rob down, but used Rob as an example of a bad pitchman on the very blog Bresnahan was pitching to! Some small time writers will certainly recite a press release for you, but according to promoter Adam Ritchie,  in comments from PR professionals on how to pitch, many top bloggers will not copy and paste them for you.  He also says to offer different options for the blogger to address the story by adding things like a YouTube clip or another piece of media.  Richie comments that some small time writers will certainly recite a press release for you, but you can only do that a few times as even they will get tired of that shallow style of news reporting. Times have changed, and companies can’t just send out a seemingly anonymous message out there expecting it to stick.

So what are communicators supposed to do? For starters, Todd Defren gives some tips on what to think about when talking to bloggers. Many of these involve knowing their tendencies in order to interact with them better. These will help you write  some of the best pitches,  personable pitches. Author, blogger, and business owner, Geoff Livingston shows off a great one on his blog.  The practitioner clearly knows what the blog is about, shares common interests, and actually offers something of value to Livingston.  Right off the bat, this pitch has a much better chance of seeing the public because there is an instant bond.  Like a good relationship, it’s authentic.

Authenticity is stressed in every aspect of PR,  and now more than ever does it seem as though pitches need to feel that way. Learning about the blog, the blogger, and offering them mutual benefits are key. It shows that there is a true interest in the author of the blog, and that you aren’t just using them as a means to an end.  By being involved and interested in the blogger you are pitching to, you are not only helping your company get a particular pitch out there, but you are helping establish a mutually beneficial relationship for the future as well. Just like Livan Hernandez’s (above) sluggish curve-ball, these relationships take time to develop, so be patient, do your research, and be genuine in order to offer up the best, most effective pitches.

Categories: Blogger, Pitch
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