3 Takeaways From a PR Pro on the Receiving End of Media Pitches

(Reprinted from @PR News, 2017)

After running his own PR agency for 10 years, Andrew Hayes joined NBC Television as PR manager for a national daytime talk show and later he led PR and community relations for Chicago Telemundo affiliate WSNS-TV.  During that time he was listed in Bacon’s Media Directory (now Cision) as “PR director,” and below his contact information it said “not an appropriate pitch resource.”

Well, you can probably guess what happened. Despite his job title and the warning, he got bombed with email pitches from PR pros.

Fifth Third Bank, VP, corporate communications, Fifth Third Bank

“I always read each pitch or news release sent thinking it might inspire my own pitching, but more often than not I came away with the sense that the person sending me the email hadn’t either taken the time to understand my role or position and the opportunity,” says Hayes. “Had they considered my role and pitched me accordingly, by writing, for example, ‘I understand you are the PR guy…any chance you can share this pitch with the news director or team next time you meet with them?  I’m confident that they would have interest in covering X because of Y,’ some might have been helped by me.”

It turns out it was Hayes himself who received the unexpected help. His experiences at NBC and Telemundo gave him a great appreciation for pitching that was done well and had succeeded at winning his attention. He also gained insight into outreach that landed with a thud.

Here are the top three things Hayes learned while being sent media pitches that should never have been sent to him in the first place:

  1. As you write a media pitch, think of aspects of your message that would make for good, compelling, call-to-action bullet points—copy that compels the recipient to not only open your message, but give it 10 seconds of their time to be persuaded that you have something interesting and/or a fit for them.
  2. The first three to five lines, or the first 15 seconds, are the most important, and that includes your email subject line, the reason for your call, face-to-face connect, etc.  Always be prepared.
  3. Before you hit send, go back and visualize the recipient for a couple of seconds. Are they at the desk when it comes in?  Will they read it from their phone while on the road? In other words, have you written something that will cause them to open it? Is it something that stands out from the 90 other emails waiting on them? I always say, let that empathetic vision guide your final edits.

Follow Andrew Hayes: @AndrewHayesPR

Contact Andrew Hayes:  andrewhayesPR@gmail.com

Dipping Just A Toe In Social Media Is A Waste of Time

Earlier this week I met with Chicago area executive and of course I brought up the subject of social media.  After talking about her experience generally, she shared, specifically, and somewhat matter of factly, that “once a week or so” she will post something on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. My poker face surely expressed what I was thinking, and she went defensive and responded, “what? Is that wrong?”  I blurted out “if you can’t interact regularly, it’s probably a waste of time.”

It was clear, pretty soon into our conversation, that her commitment to the medium was lackluster.  I explained, my vision, that in order to be successful online, you need to be active, be a part of the conversation daily, and interact as often as you can with others.  She shrugged her shoulders, raised her hands in the air, and literally said “I give up.”

I’ve been thinking about our conversation since then and decided to sit down at my laptop and offer some thoughts.

  1. Before you go online, know your voice.  What are you going to share, opine, counter, debate, and like.  In other words, if we were meeting on a blind date and I asked you to describe yourself… So who are you online?  Is your interest personal, professional or a combination of both?
  2. Once you get past step #1, be prepared to commit to sharing intriguing content, captivating photos and videos, and consistent posts to ensure you stands out.  Period.

Why does voice matter?  Creating a voice for you – that is, your brand, is essential for many reasons. It creates a natural conversation with your audience and humanizes you.

In short, your followers want to find a connection with you.

How do I find my voice?  Finding your voice shouldn’t be a daunting task. The key to finding your voice is determining the adjectives that best describe you — are you friendly, playful, warm or inspiring? What story do you want to tell about yourself?  What is your expertise or foundation of knowledge?

This isn’t a sprint… take some quiet time to get comfortable with who you want to be online.  Start with who you are professionally (CEO, director, manager, etc.).  Then add in who you are personally. (dad, mom, uncle, party boy, etc.)  Find  a balance between the two and you’ll be ready for the next step.