Andrew Hayes, VP, corporate communications at Fifth Third Bank, has seen media relations from the other side, and he wasn’t too impressed by the view.
After running his own PR agency for 10 years, he joined NBC Television as PR manager for a national daytime talk show and later on led PR and community relations for Telemundo Chicago. 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.
“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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Andrews Hayes: @AndrewHayesPR