April 1, 2012
Every day I see as many pitches as Barry Bonds in his prime (all time walks leader – stay with me). As someone who holds the reigns to a highly sought after resource – exposure – the steady stream of persuasion should come as no surprise.
And with the wealth of e-mails, press releases, and news tips comes an amazing variance in quality of message crafting. Some pitches are so impressive that the decision to cover their story has been made within the first two sentences. Others are equally off-mark. In an effort to make my job easier (life’s ultimate goal), I’m going to present you four tips, not only to get on my good side, but help you win over anyone in the media. Here we go…
1) Over Simplified and Flattering Comparisons
Actually stating what your product or service offers is so 2004. Why take the energy to explain what it is that your company does when you can make overly-generalized, highly flattering comparisons in its place? As the Babe Ruth of the digital marketing landscape, I get it.
I’m a sucker for the startup pitches titled, “The AirBNB of Tube Socks” or the “Facebook for Taxidermists.” After all, as everyone knows, Zuckerberg got his big break by pitching Facebook as the “MySpace for people who wear shirts in their profile picture.”
2) Semi-Personalized Messages
I know that journalists can come off as bias-free, objectivist robots on the unyielding quest for truth – but underneath the steel, blinking lights, and fact-seeking mainframe lies a human being with a heart, insecurities, and emotions, just like you. The fastest way to blast through that bullet-proof exterior is through the loophole known as congeniality.
Don’t overdo it though. If you come off like you did too much research, you will undoubtedly be perceived as a weirdo, stalker, or desperate. To ensure that you avoid these pitfalls, it’s best to toss in a few curve balls. Misspelling the subject’s name or referencing the wrong media source are perfect ways to accomplish this (i.e. Zack at PandoDaily is a double bullseye). The illusion of effort is indiscernible from actual effort.
3) One Size Fits All
Sure, media outlets take different angles at telling different groups different stories. It’s an accepted fact that if all media played by the same rules, John Stossel will win. To avoid the Stossel-syndrome, we have to target unique communities of people passionate about particular subjects and provide them informative editorial based on these specific interests.
There are exceptions to this rule. You. You are the exception to this rule. True, we cover technology startups, prominent entrepreneurs, and relevant conferences and events, but how could we pass up the opportunity to write up your new Chevy dealership? We covered your business in the past, but you have since added Arby’s as a partner? You can’t spell “newsworthy” without “beef n’ cheese” (no need to fact check that)? Although your story isn’t relevant to the media source in question, the only way to get the best bang for that press release buck is to blindly forward it to as many outlets as possible and cross your fingers.
4) Be Overly Demanding
“The product/service will speak for itself” is information you will find only in fiction novels. There’s a new age theory that your brand is ultimately in the control of the people who use your product/service. Much like heliocentrism, however, these claims are based on questionable data.
Once a media source has agreed to give you coverage, step on their throat. It’s the only way to properly shape your brand in the eyes of the consumer. Demand to read the draft before being published and if not, insist the post to be re-worded after being published. You don’t agree with his/her opinion, it’s your God-given right to demand a revision. Those who hide behind computer screens are pushovers, so it is your job to push…no…bulldoze, your way to the truth. I think that’s how Dale Carnegie says it, right?
And there you have it, four (April) foolproof ways to win over the media. You’re welcome.
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