4 Steps to Making PR Pitches Work for You

This article first appeared in Issue 2 of the FinCon Connection. Here’s Julie…

Public relations (PR) pitches can lead to worthwhile collaborations or become a waste of time. Discernment and a professional approach can turn these pitches into valuable resources. Here are steps to make proposals work for you and your readers:

1. Pursue the right pitches

Pursue opportunities that involve a compelling offer appropriate for your site’s theme and demographics. For example, a pitch worthy of response provides new research relevant to your readers along with specific resources, such as a telephone interview with a respected professional.

2. Shape content to match the interests and needs of your readers

Many PR reps propose how a pitch could be implemented. Use these ideas as starting points for brainstorming.

For example, an agency representing a leading discount broker approached me with an offer to interview the winner of a music competition associated with its “Money Matters” teen financial literacy program at Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). The contest was cool but I realized that I needed an angle more meaningful to my audience.

The subject of financial literacy arises often so I developed the idea of using the educational program as a potential source of training for an article entitled “7 Places Teens (and Adults) Can Learn About Money.”

3. Get unique insights through an interview

Interviews with reputable, knowledgeable people add credibility to your articles. But what you should desire most is unique insights, not simply reliable information.

There’s not a precise formula for extracting enlightenment from experts. However, you should be able to have meaningful conversations if you do the following:

  • research your topic;
  • learn about the interviewee;
  • prepare a list of questions; and
  • welcome genuine dialogue.

For example, BGCA’s President and CEO shared a key to success for its financial literacy program: a financially prudent adult facilitator willing to share stories of her own mistakes. You probably won’t find such wording in an advertisement but this statement resonated with me and helped shape my article.

4. Be skeptical of PR agencies that respond via HARO

You might think a response to a specific request would result in a great match but most of the pitches via HARO queries have been useless to me. A surprising number are unable to produce an expert as promised whereas others seem to think they can forward a press release to spread a message without telling a compelling story.

Nevertheless, I have had a couple of decent responses from this approach such as an email interview with an entrepreneur featured on ABC’s Shark Tank. However, if a prompt, spot-on response from an agency is not forthcoming, move quickly to another source.

Many agency representatives seem to have the idea that your site is (or should be) an outlet for their client’s messages. But a savvy PR person should be willing to work with you to create unique content that provides value to your reader. Expect (and require) professional behavior and you’ll be pleased with the results.

What tips can you share for making PR pitches work for you?

Julie Rains is a freelance writer and blogger. She is co-author of 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget, a senior writer for Wise Bread, and founder/blogger of Working to Live Differently.


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