How To Beat The Competition When Pitching To The Media
Finding ways to stand out and get noticed can be a daunting task. If you are looking for ways to break through the competitiveness to earn your spot in the media, I can help!
You are worthy! Your message has power! Your expertise is needed! Make sure you show that in your pitches.
Media exposure is a big deal and can lead to even bigger opportunities to spread your message, increase brand awareness and become a prominent fixture in your field of expertise. Whether you are promoting your business, encouraging change and thought leadership, promoting a book or product, or sharing your expertise, utilizing the media can launch your aspirations and goals to the next level.
If you have yet to experience the competitive nature of the media firsthand, it only takes a few rounds of pitching to realize just how much you are up against. If you have been tackling the media monster yourself, you may have found that it’s a tough beast to tame. Whether this is the first time you’ve reached out to media outlets, or the first time you feel like your message truly has a chance of being lifted to the limelight, you don’t want your chance to slip through your grasp and land in the depths of a potential outlet’s unread and overflowing inbox.
Whether this is your first pitch or your hundredth, you are in it to win and you are ready to do what it takes to earn your spot in the media and add those outlet logos to your ever-growing press page. If you are willing to spend the time on crafting content and pitches, you have to be willing to spend your time on doing your research and preparation. Otherwise, your time will be wasted, and your efforts will be futile.
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Here’s a simple checklist list of 10 aspects to compare your pitch to. If your pitch follows these guidelines, your chances of outshining competition increase substantially.
You have to be relatable to what is happening in mainstream media. That’s how the news works. Have you ever found yourself questioning why the media seems to be redundant and everyone seems to be talking about the same thing? People talk about what is relevant and the hot-topic of the day. Your job is to find a way to pivot your message and provide a fresh angle. Figuring out how you are relevant is step #1. Being relevant means you must be connected to today’s top issues. When it comes to pitching to the media, you need to do your research.
Prior to pitching, don’t go in blind. Just like you would in a new relationship, get to know the outlet. Who are they? What do they find interesting? What topics are they intrigued by? What is their tone? What is their demographic? Don’t just ask the outlet for a date, woo them with your personal knowledge of who they are and what they like. Encourage them to want to get to know you better.
Putting together a well composed and personalized email takes time and energy. Ensure that you are using that time and energy wisely. Make sure the outlet is a good fit in the first place and that the way you are pitching is going to appeal to their nature. It’s frustrating to send what you feel is a well-crafted pitch, then get a flutter of excitement when your inbox pings with a response, only to find that it is a one-liner along the lines of, Thank you for your email. We actually just published an article (or did a segment) on this recently, so we’re going to pass right now or this isn’t a good fit for our outlet.
Know what topics they’ve recently covered, and know what topics would fit with their desired narratives. If you are pitching a topic that has been discussed recently, how can you provide a fresh new look? If you are offering something brand new and different, how can you make it fit with their usual features.
- Start Writing
There’s a reason so many business coaches out there tell you to journal. Journaling lubricates the mind and increases creativity. Writing down things that interest you, inspire you, or things that you want to learn more about can get the gears turning and will ultimately open up doors to ideas and concepts that you are able to speak about in ways that would appeal to your desired audience. Before you know it, those notes you scrawl in the margins of your notebook will become full fledged ideas ready to be turned into the pitch of your dreams. My notes app is filled with voice-to-text ideas that pop in my head throughout the day. While some of these ideas are set free to flutter away, many of them are the beginnings of a concept that I will later craft into a featured topic of discussion. Every big idea started as a glimmer of a thought. Don’t let those fleeting thoughts go to waste, capture them, cultivate them, and turn them into works of art.
Start with bullets. Write down tangible, actionable tips that your audience can walk away with. Including the bullets in your pitch gives a clear concept of what you are capable of elaborating on should the outlet choose to book you.
- Make Lists of Who You Can Pitch To
Once you have researched potential outlets, and captured your thoughts on paper, your next step is to create customized lists. Identify places and people who will find your topic relevant and intriguing. Create lists for print, radio, podcasts, television, blogs etc. Each type of outlet you reach out to will need a customized pitch that speaks to their audience and methods of sharing their content. Keeping updated lists will help make sure you don’t miss out on pitching to great potential outlets, and can help you follow up with and keep track of those you have contacted.
Dedicate a day to make a list of all the places you should be pitching to. Don’t forget to note how to reach out to them and their preferred methods of contact. When you are ready, you can be pitching on autopilot which will provide you with less time spent on active pitching and more time spent on creating more compelling content.
- Go Beyond the Basic Requirements
In your research, you will often find that each media outlet will tell you their unique pitch requirements and preferences. The pitch requirements are usually basic and spot-on, a perfect guide to creating a pitch that will have a better chance of being picked up. The first step is to follow instructions, let the outlets know that you have done your research and you value their time by adhering to their policies. Next, find a way to take things to the next level which will allow you to stand out and be remembered favorably in future correspondence.
Include references to recently featured content showing that you have done your due diligence. Relate your message to topics they are currently covering or that they would be interested in covering based on content. Be sure to make each message personable, if you are going to copy and paste, at least include names and a personalized introduction. People like to be addressed by name and not just seem like they are “just another contact.”
- Show Real Numbers
One of the biggest things the media is looking for when they do a deep dive to learn more about you is social proof that you not only exist, but that you have a compelling presence. They want to know that you can deliver on the promises you make in your pitching. They want to see evidence that you are going to be able to deliver. Include real-life scenarios, client wins, testimonials, and facts about your experience, expertise, exposure, and impact.
Actively post past case studies to your blog and testimonials to your socials. Show past media placements on your press page, and be ready to provide them with additional information with an electronic press kit.
- Send Your Pitch Materials in Advance (& Disrupt Their Thought Patterns in the Process)
By sending your materials ahead of time to future topics of interest, you stake your claim in their minds.
Just imagine how many other pitches these outlets may be getting on a regular basis about the very same topics. Whether intentional or not, their inboxes and subject lines start to become a blur. Try to think ahead and come up with creative ways to address current events.
Instead of focusing on just right now, include ideas and topics that would be relevant for future use as well.
Helpful hint: Some online magazines will show their upcoming topics months or even a year in advance. Pay attention to their calendars which can be found on their website so you know what you could be potentially pitching about.
- Follow the 90/10 Rule & Make them Daydream
It’s easy to fall into the default mode of “selling” when you’re preparing and sending a media pitch. (Because it is what you’re doing, after all.) But don’t be a sleazy used car salesman. Be sleek, savvy, and trustworthy.
Pitching yourself without coming across as having a massive ego is an important part of being seen as relatable and enjoyable. Yes, you are smart, intriguing, knowledgeable, and maybe even the better choice in comparison to the competition, but rather than saying that outright, let your words and work speak for themselves. Spend only 10% of your pitch laying the foundation of your topic and talking about your own credibility. Then spend the rest of your time actively displaying how the topic you are pitching will benefit the outlet and their audience.
- Don’t Compare Yourself to Competitors
COMPARISON SERVES NO PURPOSE! To compare yourself to someone else only brings that person into the equation unnecessarily. Putting someone else down to lift yourself up can also leave a bad impression on your integrity. It can be tempting to do this to set yourself apart, and to position yourself as the better choice, but it’s also incredibly dangerous and honestly just an unsavory practice. Participating in trash talk is a big no-no by itself, but you also don’t want to accidentally present the media with more options to consider. Don’t be a bully, be a leader.
Only bring up the competition if you’re sure it’s relevant and the choice is obvious. Stay classy and be kind.
- Begin With Narrative & Reputation to Hook Them Emotionally
Combining the 10% reputation-building aspect of composing a pitch with an awe inspiring story is a great way to establish instant credibility in a stronger way. By nature, stories create emotional connections between the listener and the subject. These connections build relationships and loyalty.
When the subject of that story is you, your listeners create an emotional connection right away. By presenting yourself as a fellow human rather than an ethereal source, you are breaking down barriers and creating organic connections. Stay true to yourself, be relatable, and maybe even a bit vulnerable.
- Practice, Practice, Practice
This goes without saying, but even the best of the best in any industry are constantly a work in progress. Be a lifelong learner, constantly striving to perfect your craft. Don’t just wing it. Pitching takes practice. Write different versions of your pitch and run it by friends and family for some honest feedback. See what they feel when they read it. Do they understand your message? Do they want to know more?
Keep in mind, the more competitive the pitch, the more you need to practice. Even if you’re pitching the exact same thing, each and every pitch is different because each person is different and deserves to be addressed accordingly.
Taking part in a competitive media pitch is one intense journey, but it will never be boring. You’ve got to prepare, prepare, and prepare some more.
Have a plan A, B, C, and D.
Make your preparation smarter by including the insight outlined in this post which will help you stand out and win that competitive pitch
Best of luck!