The Importance of Proactive Pitching
As public relations professionals, we love when we can tie recent news events into our pitches. News hooks are one of our industry’s tried and true ways to peak a reporter’s interest – but that’s just one part of what we’re paid to do. The reality is, if our job was only to react to relevant news and secure articles based on that alone, we’d all be out of a job by now (or at least downgraded to part-time positions). Unless you’re part of a purely crisis PR team or have an Amazon-caliber client that is constantly in the news, proactive pitching is – more often than not – where agencies can shine.
The reality is, media relations is getting harder, but the majority of us are still facing pressure from clients to secure more coverage. Media coverage, after all, is often the yardstick at which we are measured by. At REQ, we know we can’t rely on news hooks alone to secure coverage; that’s why we’re always working to ensure we have an arsenal of fresh and interesting proactive pitch ideas for our media relations clients. It’s because of this drive for high performance and constant hustle that we’re celebrating 20 successful years in the B2B and B2G technology industries. Below are some of our best practices for developing and securing coverage with proactive pitches:
READ, READ, READ!
Whether it’s a news article, industry report, or a piece of content from your client (or their competitor); reading is an essential part of coming up with compelling proactive pitch ideas. Every team member at REQ, whether account coordinator or senior executive, is constantly reading and sharing relevant articles with the team. This knowledge base allows us to identify untapped areas of interest for both reporters and our clients, without having to rely on the news cycle.
Don’t be afraid to share ideas with your client!
This not only shows you’re keeping the client top of mind, but it’s also a great way to get the creative juices flowing when there’s not a lot happening on the company-news side. Sometimes it takes hearing “no, that won’t work for us” or “no, that’s a little too far out of our comfort zone” before you land on an actual workable idea, but that’s just part job.
Talk to your reporters
Remember the three-part series my colleague and former tech journalist, Eric Schwartz, published about the “The Care and Feeding of Reporters”? Well, that’s where those tips can really pay off. If you’re struggling to come up with pitch ideas, reach out to a few reporters you’ve established a relationship with, and just ask them what they’re interested in writing about at the moment. You’re more likely to get a response because the reporter is not being pressured to say yes or no to a pitch, and it gives you the opportunity to develop a pitch idea that is personally tailored to their areas of interest. Better yet, take them out to lunch and pick their brain or ask them to get a drink prior to heading to an event you know you’ll both be at (either way, free food/drink is always a good idea).
Proactive pitching is rarely a walk in the park. Even with these best practices, it’s something PR professionals constantly have to work at. Sometimes a pitch that we really like comes up dry, so it’s important to recognize when a particular story has run its course, and move on. Yes, you had envisioned this story publishing in the Wall Street Journal, but the reality is, not even the small, business-tech blog is interested in it, so it’s time to move on to the next idea. But it’s all worth it in the end, because there’s nothing more satisfying than when that random idea goes from a pitch to an actual published article that you can call your own. It’s the ultimate reward for both yourself and the client.