The perfect pitch – it’s personal

 

After attending a PRIA event last night called the ‘Perfect Pitch’, I retired for the evening feeling enlightened, yet slightly deflated.

 It was a well organised night and a great atmosphere for meeting some new people (please note my deliberate avoidance of the term ‘networking’- the thought of straining for ‘mutually beneficial’ relationships rather than a simple ‘hey how’s it going, I like your shoes’ over a glass of bubbly makes me cringe- but that’s a whole different blog in the making)

The guest speakers were great and offered insight into the day to day happenings at a women’s lifestyle mag, a day in the life of a television morning show producer and some pearls of wisdom from a part time and passionate food blogger. All of these women are top of their game and it was great to hear them speak about the nature of their jobs and industries. It offered a humanised explanation of what PR’s can sometimes perceive as irrational editor hostility. In reality they’re just super duper busy women under tight deadlines.

 But despite its name, the lingering theme of the evening was, ‘there is no such thing as a perfect pitch’. Like with anything, it is completely subjective.

 Apparently Mia Freedman does not want that follow up call after a media release, in stark contrast to last night’s guest speaker who thinks it’s imperative. Some journalists prefer emails to phone calls, some will divert your calls to their voicemail time and time again and some will never write back to your emails. Most bloggers seem to operate according to their own guidelines and ethics and will not pander to PR product pushes. Some will fiercely resist them all together. Alternately, some won’t.

 So what’s a girl (or guy) to do? How do you combat such vastly differing requirements from editors, producers, journalists and bloggers?

 It seems to me that the one request from the media corner last night was for the superfluous niceties to be cut out of press releases and email interaction. Basically, time is precious, so don’t waste it.  

 Conversely, there was a universal agreement that the way to succeed in your PR efforts is to build real and tangible media relationships, and in order to do this convincingly, one must dabble in the odd bit of wining, dining and schmoozing.

So is the simple answer a free coffee and a face to face catch up? If only I could get past voicemail.

@gillasbury

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5 Responses to The perfect pitch – it’s personal

  1. Gill,

    Brilliant post! I’m sure every single PR professional out there is feeling your words…

    I unfortunately don’t have any definite answers to your questions. I would point out, however, that organisations like PRinks and PRJournoLove are doing a great job at creating that ‘schmoozing’ opportunity for PRs and journos. They’re actually bringing all the different worlds of communication (PR, journalism, advertising, social media, etc.) together so that we can hopefully understand a little more what we’re all looking for and how we work.

    Unfortunately, there seems to be an under-representation of journalists at these events, compared to PRs. So I suppose my question would be, how do we convince journalists that an evening spent mingling with PRs (and other comms professionals) can actually be a good one?

  2. Jo says:

    I think the perfect pitch really comes down to understanding the journalist and media outlet you are pitching to. PR professionals are facilitators of information and it’s up to us to understand best how to package that information in a way that will be meaningful and useful to the journalist. There will never be one sure fire way that will suit every journalist, sometimes it will require a bit of persistance and creativity. But that’s one of the challenges of PR and for me it’s part of the fun.

  3. I agree with Kim & Jo.

    Ultimately it’s a world of give and take. Both PR’s and journalists have to be prepared to do a bit of both.

  4. Thanks for a really intesting post, Gill! It just shows really that because journalists + co. have so many different preferences, it is vital to build up personal contacts with them and ask them how they prefer to work. Everyone goes about things differently and journalists are no exception!

  5. Having personal relationships with journalists is the preferred way to go here in the U.S., but with so many media lay-offs, firings and downsizings these days, that’s easier said than done. Still, personal relationship or no personal relationship, knowing the media outlet and the journalist’s specific beat is the key to success, in my opinion. Like a friend of mine always says, “Talk to the dog in the language of the dog, and the language of the dog is meat!

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