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Pitching Tips from the Digital Media Front

April 10, 2013

The Brandware Public Relations team recently had the pleasure of sitting down to discuss the ever-changing art (and science) of media relations with Marty Padgett, Editorial Director for High Gear Media, a vertical media company that owns and operates a number of automotive websites. The portfolio includes TheCarConnection.com, MotorAuthority.com and GreenCarReports.com. Marty explained how large, multi-site media groups like High Gear Media process pitches. While direct media contact isn’t a totally lost art (our agency still does a fair share of in-market, in-person media tours, desk-side briefings and other face-to-face initiatives), there is a lot more science involved in getting your message in front of an open ear (or set of eyes). Here’s what I learned:

  • In today’s digital world, time is the new constraint, not space. Journalists have to be able to produce content quickly and efficiently, so when you’re putting together a pitch be sure not to waste their time. Keep your pitch concise and relevant – don’t bury the lead in the body of a long email.
  • Today’s digital media model pays attention to SEO, and journalists now form stories around what people are currently looking for on search engines. These keywords shape the headline and first few paragraph of an article to ensure that it shows up higher on search results. In short, SEO is a science – know the keywords that are trending and find the best ones for your pitch. Pay attention to news cycles – being a daily student of who’s talking and writing about what is more important than ever.
  • Know your media’s respective backgrounds and tailor your information to their level of product knowledge. Marty elaborated that a failure to communicate can result in disastrous press coverage, as it did for Tesla Motors (the much-covered Elon Musk vs. New York Times spat). The real moral of that story: research journalists before you pitch and figure out what they need to know – then make sure they have all the info (and your cell phone #) at their fingertips.
  • The best-targeted, most exclusive, story pitch with the richest content potential will always win. Marty’s example of a pitch that caught his eye was for 3M Auto’s “Boot Camp 2013.” The pitch offered journalists a chance to witness the reveal of 3M’s newest technology, as well as receive hands-on experience with other automotive care products. The pitch was highly visual, to the point, provided thorough information and, most importantly, provided a unique story opportunity for journalists.

Good stories come from those invested in the subject, so journalists will always need the best information possible. The digital age hasn’t eliminated the need for a good pitch, it has simply changed the way we present it.

Image courtesy of High Gear Media.

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