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Media Relations 101: Make Your Pitch Work for You

Photo from: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1280072

By Amanda Coppock

In my time as an intern at Porter Novelli, one of the areas I came to love was media relations. While some enjoy this function of PR more than others, at one point or another it is a skill that we will all have to master. Like any skill, with media relations, practice makes perfect. Sure, at first it can seem like an overwhelming and daunting task, but once you begin establishing relationships with reporters, it becomes more comfortable.

Through my experience with media relations, I have developed a few key steps for writing pitches:

Developing a Tailored Pitch

1.    Identify reporters and outlets that have covered similar stories in the past.

2.    Develop a pitch that is specific to the reporter, especially if they have covered a similar story in the past. If the reporter has covered a related story, call it out at the beginning of the pitch to let them know why your pitch is relevant to them.

3.    Identify the story idea from the beginning of the pitch – do not make them search for it by placing the information too far down in the pitch.

4.    Make the pitch work for the reporter – let them know why it is relevant to their audience, what interview opportunities exist and how they can get more information.

Developing a General Pitch

1.    Start with the story idea – let the reporter or editor know what you want them to do from the opening of the pitch.

2.    Grab the reporter or editor from the beginning – use statistics, provide an interesting fact, make a local connection, etc.

3.    Don’t forget the important stuff! – see number four above

The pitch is where you catch the reporter’s attention and make him interested in what you have to say. I find that the strongest pitches are those that are tailored to a reporter or outlet with an interest or recent coverage related to your topic. Sometimes, tailoring a pitch to a previous story may not be possible, so a general pitch will be the route you have to take. Either way, you have to hit the high points and grab the reporter’s interest.

Your internship is a time for you to gain a wide variety of experience, and pitching is likely to be a part of it. One of the reasons I was able to do a lot of media relations as an intern was because I expressed my interest. Don’t be afraid to let your manager know what you enjoy and to ask to do more in that area – you might just become an expert along the way!

Deborah Umunnabuike: Digital in New York

I joined Porter Novelli in June 2010 as an intern in the Digital Practice in New York. I have a background in digital thanks to internships at various tech companies, such as Encyclopedia.com. I have also gained an understanding of web production and analysis through co-founding and managing a web-based retail business over the past five years.

This summer I have had the opportunity to work on a few interesting engagements. While my supervisors were in the south of France for the Cannes Lions Ad Festival, I tracked the conversation across social media, and developed several trending reports that were re-broadcast by AdWeek. It’s also been a great experience working with the other interns on a group project. There is the possibility that elements of our campaign pitch could actually be used by the client, so I’m hoping to really ‘wow’ them!

I graduated this June from The University of Chicago with a degree in Political Science and moved to Manhattan shortly after!