Ever since we were old enough to care (and probably before then), we’re coached and preened to make the flawless first impression. Good posture, firm handshake, consistent eye contact—all of these nonverbal cues compound into one memorable representation of yourself. That’s a lot of pressure embroiled in one moment.
For PR professionals, the pitch is that first impression with press contacts. From pushing a breaking story to landing a huge interview for a client, a solid pitch is integral to the success of a PR professional and his or her agency. Chicago-based No Limit Agency has mastered the art of pitching through dedication, proactive training and a precise modus operandi.
“A good pitch is well-researched, has a timely hook, a short description of the pitch, background information and a call to action,” No Limit Agency’s Lauren Boukas, the vice president for client services, said. “A bad pitch is sent to a reporter that doesn’t cover that beat, isn’t researched and is blasted out to a list of reporters.”
Boukas credits NLA’s successful pitching to “planning and taking the time to build out a thoughtful pitch.” She also points out that elements like reputable data, reliable sources and a time-sensitive hook can make pitches more appealing to reporters.
While the attributes of an appealing pitch seem obvious enough, some PR professionals still fall prey to the cardinal sins of pitching. Boukas can rattle off a short list of the most common mistakes made across the board in the PR industry.
“Spelling errors, calling the reporter the wrong name or bombarding a reporter can break a pitch,” Boukas said.
While some are born with the innate ability to build the flawless pitch, many in the industry must consciously hone their skills. Boukas has developed a tried-and-true system when training new NLA additions in the practice, encouraging a collaborative work environment and pragmatic learning.
“Show them how to build a pitch from the ground up, including brainstorming, researching, building a media list,” Boukas said of training a team how to pitch. “Have them watch/listen to others pitch at first until they’re comfortable. Then, throw 'em in!”