The Holy Grail in PR is saying the right thing, at the right time, to the right person. Succeed in doing that, and every idea and story you pitch a reporter has the potential of being published.
A few days ago, Lora Kolodny, tech writer at Fast Company, let her Facebook subscribers know that in order for her to consider covering a company, the pitch had to incorporate answers to the ten questions that she listed.
Kolodny’s questions are wonderfully spot-on and very insightful for us PR representatives in terms of saying the right thing. Four of her questions are particularly helpful when formulating a strong pitch:
Saying The Right Thing
- What do you do or make, and who needs this?
- Who are your key customers/constituents, now? Who will they be? Why do they come back to you?
- Who is your competition and how do you distinguish yourself from them?
- Are you solving problems for your industry, for society, the world? Which problems and how?
But it’s not enough to say the right thing; it has to be said at the right time too, in the right type of context – all with the purpose of providing a sense of meaning as to why what you have to say is important.
At The Right Time
- What is being said in the current industry debate/context in which you are active?
- Do you represent a trend or an anti-trend in that ongoing debate?
- Is there a lack of debate – should you be the creator/initiator of a much-needed discourse, shedding light on a topic or issue that might be overlooked?
- Are there any news items or seasonal themes that highlight what you want to say?
Saying the right thing, at the right time can land you that story, but it’s all for naught if it’s said to the wrong person. How do you find the reporters who will understand, who will care?
To The Right Person
- What are your target outlets? Who, within those outlets, cover the topics you are interested in?
- Be sure to follow your key reporters continuously. Has their beat changed?
- Be respectful of their preferences. Do they want to be pitched by email or phone?
- Ask them! Introduce yourself and ask what topics and types of stories they are typically interested in.
And there you go – a few easy steps to a successful story! Ok, ok. I know it’s not quite that easy. But let me say this; as someone from Sweden, with experience working with PR in Europe, a post like Kolodny’s confirms how much more open the relationship between reporter and PR representative is on this side of the Atlantic. There’s a mutual acknowledgement and sense of understanding, which ultimately creates relevant story ideas in a context that is current, interesting and important.