The Ultimate Guide to Crafting The Perfect Pitch
Have you ever skipped to the end of a book because you just can’t stand waiting to know how it ends? I’ll guess a large portion of you reading this are admitting yes, at least on the inside—while probably an even larger group is saying “WOW—never, that’s savage!!” Well, I fall within the first group, and thus, that’s how I’m going to write this article. By skipping to the conclusion, the grand finale. Are you ready for it? Have your pen and paper handy?
Okay, here it goes….
There is no such thing as THE perfect pitch.
Yes, a bit anti-climactic I know. But for those of you who are desperately searching the Internet for that one article to answer your pitching prayers, I promise you this, there is not an overarching holy grail that holds the answers to all your PR woes—this one included. I don’t mean to sound bleak, rather I mean to give you a firm wake up call. However, reading this article isn’t a total loss because I will tell you WHY that perfect pitch doesn’t exist, and how you can still manage to get press nonetheless. Okay, again, here it goes.
Every outlet is different.
Every editor is different.
Every writer is different.
Every person is different.
Therefore, every pitch needs to be different. While you can draft what may be received as “a perfect pitch” by one writer, be prepared for that same pitch to end up in another’s virtual garbage can. Now, here’s the light at the end of this so far very long and dark tunnel—it is possible to create a great pitch that can knock an outlet or editor or writer’s socks off! It’s one of the reasons publicists and companies land press each and every day. While there is such a thing as luck, it is also plausible to succeed without having to achieve perfection. Here are a few insider tips and tricks of the trade:
Do your homework.
Literally, I can’t stress this enough. Stop sending pitches to an email address—send pitches to a person. Better yet, get to know that person as best you can. Find out what they like to write about; take note of their writing tone. Check out their Twitter—what do they tweet about? What do they retweet? Get a sense for who you are about to pitch, and tailor your pitch accordingly. Oh yeah, and always…I mean ALWAYS, address your pitches with a correctly spelled NAME.
I mean really, get objective. Would you want to read your pitch? Would you even want to read the story? I’m taking this quote from a recent article I read: “The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the affects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.” Kevin Mcspadden, Time Magazine. So, phone a friend…take a lap, and re-read the pitch with fresh eyes—are you inspired? You should be, because if you aren’t, why the heck should anyone else be?
The worse that can happen when you follow up is: A. They still ignore you or B. They turn you down. The worse that can happen if you don’t follow up is that: A. They still ignore you or B. They turn you down. The best that can happen if you follow up is: A. They respond (eureka at least is something!) or B. You get the story —boom, worth it.
Some writers will prefer you to send a short and quick pitch that’s to the point—others may actually enjoy you painting a more detailed picture. Because you may not immediately know which length or approach to take, there’s a 50/50 chance you got it wrong. Thus, take note of your failed pitches, and to whom they failed on. Likewise, take note of your successful pitches, and to whom they worked on. Ignorance is letting history repeat itself when it’s entirely avoidable.
So, while I started this piece with the ending, I hope you take this quick read—digest it—and use it as your new beginning to how you approach pitching.
Best of luck, and remember, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” – Henry Ford