Twelve Tips to Successful Pitching


Philanthropy411 is currently covering the Communications Network Fall 2013 Annual Conference conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by Cynthia Dodd Adcock, Vice President, Communications and Marketing at Independent Sector.  Follow her on Twitter – @cyndodd.

adcock1The Communications Network’s Fall 2013 Conference is off to a great start in New Orleans with Wednesday’s pre-conference sessions.  PR Guru Patrick McCabe, and his colleagues Becky Watt-Knight and Mike Warner from GYMR Public Relations led a session on media relations that was relevant to newcomers as well as seasoned veterans. The session worked because the presenters shared their own stories, as did attendees, to illustrate each of the 12 tips for effective media relations.  The three veterans also gave us a behind the scenes look at what it’s like to pitch day in and day out.

Here are their 12 tips:

Patrick McCabe, Becky Watt-Knight, and Mike Warner
Patrick McCabe, Becky Watt-Knight, and Mike Warner

1) Find the news value – meaning make sure your release reads like a real story for the medium you’re pitching and tie it to a news angle.

2) Be strategic about tactics: Think about what channel is appropriate for your story, whether it’s a media stunt, a news release to local reporters, or maybe an opinion piece. Getting the story out does not always mean getting it in the newspaper.

3) Identify what the reader can do with the “news you can use” angle.

4) Write so reporters will “cut and paste.”  Now more than ever.

5) Plan your pitch – and this is the hard part.  Watt-Knight said she spends twice as much time on the pitch than she does on writing the release.

6)Leave no stone unturned – yes it takes time but you have to think through every possible news angle.

7) Be relentless about follow-up.  Send personalized tailored emails and follow up with a phone call.  Phone three times BEFORE you leave a message.

8) Assume success and be ready for it with your spokespeople.

9) USE SOCIAL MEDIA – enough said.

10) Use pictures to tell stories Don’t worry if they use your exact infographic.  If it helps get your story placed that’s all you want.

11) Establish goals for coverage – quotas are a good thing here, and

12) Evaluate – go ahead and do it immediately after your event or pitch.  It’s the best way to remember what worked and what didn’t.

Looking forward to two more great days of learning and sharing!!  The three will be around later so ask for a copy of the 12 tips.  They are actually printed on real paper and laminated too – a real treat in this digital age!!

Kris is a sought after philanthropy advisor, expert and award-winning author. She has helped over 90 foundations and philanthropists strategically allocate and assess over half a billion dollars in grants and gifts.

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