Elevating Data in Your Pitch
Nothing grabs a reporter’s attention better than data. As a PR professional at a firm specializing in the technology industry, I’ve seen the difference good data can make in a pitch. Conversely, I also quickly learned that tech reporters are used to receiving a lot of data-centric pitches, and making the data stand out, regardless of how great you think it is, can be really tough. Nothing makes PR professionals happier than when our client releases a yearly report or survey loaded with juicy statistics; but as the communicators, it’s our role to not get lost in the data and present this information in a way that appeals to the reporter, or more importantly – the reporter’s audience. So while we think the data is strong enough to do all the talking, a reporter might not, which is why providing a little context and enhancing the information is so important. Below are a few tips that I like to keep in mind when writing data-filled pitches:
Provide a relevant frame of reference
When you’re dealing with a statistic that could be hard for reporters or readers to envision, providing a reference point is important. For example: “With [client name]’s data analytics software, [customer name] improved productivity and saved 5,110 work hours” – who can envision what 5,110 hours looks like? Present the data in a way the reporter/reader can easily wrap their heads around, such as: “With [client name]’s data analytics software, [customer name] improved productivity and saved 5,110 work hours – that’s 7 months of time saved”. While 5,110 hours seems like a lot, 7 months is much more digestible and relatable.
This is also a great tip when dealing with statistics from a poll or survey. People-sourced data is much stronger when it’s conveyed in a reference to, well, people. For example: “Survey finding shows 31% of software developers…” When’s the last time you were able to picture what 31% of software developers looked like? Instead, consider presenting the finding as “nearly one-in-three software developers”, which is much easier for reporters/readers to envision.
Use Charts and Graphs
This is particularly useful when you’re presenting a list of related statistics, or data that shows trends over time. It’s visually more appealing and also great for enhancing the power of the message your data is conveying:
For example: Instead of just listing “6% of projects had 0-10 vulnerabilities”, “14% of projects had 10-99 vulnerabilities” and “80% of projects had 100 or more vulnerabilities”, create a pie chart or some other graphic that you can include with the list. This not only helps catch the reporters eye, but also allows them to get a comparative view of each statistic, which can make the data even more compelling.
Or: “Survey shows 12% decrease in software project failures” – what was the percentage last year or during their last survey? 12% percent higher is not a sufficient answer. Use a graph to convey the trend of software project failures over time. Something as simple as a basic line graph will immediately elevate your pitch when using longitudinal data.
Don’t Overdo it
Yes, your client’s yearly report covers multiple industries, and has a number of awesome statistics for each one, but no, you don’t need to share every single stat in your pitch. This goes back to a general rule of thumb for pitch writing – know who you’re pitching, what they cover, and what they’re interested in. Chances are, they don’t care about a stat related to the healthcare industry, because they don’t cover it. Instead, they’d much rather have some more information on the retail side, because that’s their beat. At the end of the day, your pitch is supposed to peak their interest enough so they want to hear more, either by talking with your client or receiving some more in-depth content on the topic (such as an authored article). So hook them with select juicy stats and then let them dive into the finer details, instead of listing every single statistic in the pitch.
Good data can make or break your pitch, so do it justice and spend an extra 10-15 minutes to ensure its presented in the compelling and approachable manner it deserves. The results you’ll find by keeping these tips in mind will speak for itself – unlike the data in your pitches.