Here’s what happened….
Steve Harrison talked for a bit about how to approach journalists and producers to get the best results.
Then dozens of them (from the Today Show to Dr. Oz) filed into the room and each told us what was most important for them. How they wanted to be pitched, their pet peeves, and ideas about how to get their attention.
After that they marched into another room and then we all stood in line for the media we had chosen to pitch them for 2.5 minutes each. Whoa! Mind spin! Eureka!
Here are the 5 Best Pitching Tips From Journalists and Producers:
1. Prove you’re an expert.
Some producers of major TV shows wanted 3-5 words in the subject line shows you are an expert for your topic. Example: “Female pediatrician from Chicago… FILL IN YOUR IDEA HERE.
Many asked me to be sure to link to my media appearances when I followed up with them. While others told me that they could see that I’d make a good guest — by the way I pitched them in person.
Remember that we get who you are in just 1/4 of a second — a blink of an eye — called thin slicing. The next 30 seconds is proof of an initial impression—which will be proven out in your demo video on your press kit page. Make sure you have one.
2. Be available immediately.
One journalist bemoaned the fact that he often received email pitches he was interested in, but when he responded immediately with a call he was greeted with…silence. No one answered his call. No one called right back. We often think we’re an incredible, irreplaceable expert. But that’s just not true.
Since journalists are often on demanding deadlines they can’t necessarily wait for the most qualified source. “Be available the same day you send the email,” he advised. “The person who answers the phone first gets in the story.”
3. Create controversy.
Can you make a “fight” sheet? A series of statements where you state why you disagree with the status quo or something another expert said? There is a time to be inflammatory — if it’s true to your brand. Taking a strong stand sets you apart from others fast.
4. Know the production schedule/editorial calendar.
Producers and editors want you to suggest ideas for upcoming shows/articles they’re working on and to be aware of what has already aired/been published. Don’t pitch a story that’s been done!
You can find out what the producers are looking for by searching the “Be on the show” link on many major shows like Dr. Oz. You can find the yearly editorial calendars for magazines on their individual websites. Remember that magazines plan 3-6 months out.
5. Continue connecting.
I can’t tell you how many of the 150 journalists and producers mentioned that it was important to continue to connect with them. Often times your pitch isn’t an exact fit for the time or topic. But it could be in the future. The never ending news cycle gives you a daily opportunity to tweak your topic to fit into whatever happened that day or week.
You may need to reach out 5-10 or more times before your idea lands. When I was a publicist what worked was to be top of mind by staying in touch with a consistent stream of ideas – and then to call when breaking news happened. I often booked my clients this way — simply by staying in touch.
Also, put in your pitch that you’re willing to be a last minute guest. Be ready to hop on a plane to be in a TV studio or call on your landline for a radio show. Guests get waylaid for all kinds of reasons, including something as simple as the weather.
Rick Young, a Madison Square Boxer turned radio host, (who pulled out O’Sensei’s the founder of Aikido’s book The Art of Peace, in his backpack when I told him I was a black belt in Aikido) said, “Start from here you are. Go after your dream. J.K. Rowling started from somewhere. There was a time when we didn’t know who she was. Everyone starts from a time when we didn’t know who they were.”
Oh, and here is the video about nothing Michelle Tennant and I made for you on our lunch break at the summit.