Public Relations

A Few ‘Smart’ Ways To Pitch The Media

By October 18, 2012 No Comments

One of the many great aspects of working at C. Blohm & Associates I’ve quickly come to realize is the numerous professional development opportunities afforded the staff.

As PR professionals working in an agency setting, we must always be willing to adapt to new technology, and to learn new ways of reaching out to the media to build the brands of the clients we serve.

A co-worker, Katie, and I recently  participated in a PRSA-sponsored webinar hosted by Michael Smart. The hour-long session  detailed eight story “boosters,” as Smart calls them; ways to bolster your media pitches.

Smart is the National News Director at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, but also provides media relations training and coaching to the PR industry.

As a common courtesy, I can’t reveal all of the boosters, but these three caught my attention.

  • Frame your pitch around PEOPLE

Too often, companies push their executives or spokespersons to share a story that excludes the people most directly connected to it.

Smart says PR pros must find the ‘regular’ people attached to stories,  those who deliver  a story’s emotional connection and grab even the most jaded editor’s attention.

  • Exploit pop culture

You may roll your eyes at this one and call it a sign of the Great Decline – after all, we live in an era where Jersey Shore is more important to TV viewers than international conflicts – but you have to respect pop culture.  Why?  Here’s an illustration:

Canada’s Heart and Stroke Foundation recently completed a PSA showing how to use CPR during a medical emergency. The steps are not terribly difficult, so building an interesting campaign around the concept could have been challenging for the HSF.

Instead, the organization capitalized on the recent zombie craze that has swept North America – specifically in the U.S. with AMC’s “The Walking Dead” television show – and came up with this:

The video is a tad long, but I think it’s a prime example of how to tie an interesting pop culture phenomenon to an organization’s overall goal. Flesh-eating zombies promoting CPR to save lives – what a concept!

And finally…

  • Tie to a trend

Speaking as a former journalist, I’ll admit that reporters are always intrigued by trends. While continually searching out trend stories can become a bad habit, a well-placed story linked to a notable trend can have an significant impact.

In Smart’s view, three examples constitute a trend for a journalist, so if a PR pro can identify one example from their company, and match it with examples from two other sources that should whet a reporter’s appetite.

And though it may seem self-evident, Smart reminds us to be sure the two other examples come from non-competitors.  An obvious point perhaps, but worth stressing.

I hope you find these examples helpful, and strongly recommend  you catch one of Smart’s webinars/events. For a list of his events through PRSA, visit, http://www.prsa.org/Learning/Calendar/presenter/2012/Michael_Smart.

And of course, log on to his official website to learn more about his coaching services and speaking engagements!