Pitchrate | Serenading National Media In Perfect Pitch

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Michelle Tennant

20-year PR Veteran and Chief Creative Officer of Wasabi Publicity, Michelle Tennant Nicholson has seen PR transition from typewriters to Twitter. Called a five-star publicist by Good Morning America's Mable Chan, Michelle specializes in international PR working regularly with the likes of Oprah, Lar...

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Wasabi Publicity, Inc.

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11/16/2010 05:06pm
Serenading National Media In Perfect Pitch

I know a national TV producer who gets 500 emails an hour, every day.

With the media besieged by attention-seekers, how can you rise to the top of their overstuffed in-boxes to grab their attention? Here are some steps to increase chances for yourself or a client.

When our company, Wasabi Publicity Inc., got a brand new client booked on Dr. Phil within eight hours, it was a tightly worded pitch with an eye-catching subject line that delivered. Coverage on CNN Weekend News, major syndicated radio and national magazines quickly followed.

The client, Dr. Jill Murray, specializes in relationships that turn violent. She has appeared on national media many times. So when the story broke that singer Chris Brown had been charged with assaulting his pop star girlfriend Rihanna, Dr. Jill was perfectly qualified to shed light on the news.

Our team went into overdrive to get her on Dr. Phil. It started with a pitch that we now refer to as “The Perfect Pitch” because it gets to the heart of what the media is looking for. The pitch began with this subject line:

[Rihanna] Dr. Jill Murray - 3 Stages of Violence - which one is Rihanna

Media gatekeepers use search terms to sort through their incoming tsunami of emails each day. We put Rihanna’s name first because we knew the media would be searching for it, on the Web and in their email. We used “Dr.” Jill Murray to establish her credibility. In a dozen words we conveyed our client’s expertise and gave the media a teaser about how she could enlighten their audience.

Think of that subject line as your headline. You wouldn’t open an email without a catchy subject, right? When you are trying to get through to media bombarded by publicity seekers, it’s the key that can unlock the treasure chest of national media coverage.

The opening line of your pitch must immediately state why the media should care. Since Dr. Jill has previously appeared on Oprah, ABC, 20/20, CNN and so forth, we put that front and center so the media would know they are dealing with a pro. We included links to her TV clips so with one click they could see her in action.

Next, ask what unique perspective you or your client can bring to the national news. I interviewed Dr. Jill for an hour to find out what she thought the national media were missing in their discussion of Rihanna and Chris Brown. We came up with:
3 Stages of Violence (1) Honeymoon, (2) Tension Building Phase, (3) Explosive Phase.

Dr. Jill knew what she wanted to say because she had been watching TV and keeping up with the breaking news. That’s one of the things we coach our clients on — watch the news and figure out what you would say about breaking news.
Next we pitched the red-hot angle of text messaging and how it played into this incident:
Dr. Murray has 3 warning signs parents, friends and relatives can watch for around "texting" if they fear someone they care about may be in a violent relationship.
Plus this: Signs to watch for if you feel you might be dating an abuser.
In this portion of the pitch, we showed the media how Dr. Jill’s expertise was directly relevant to the concern of their viewers and readers. Any parent with teens would want to know this, right?
Finally we gave the media something of added value: a link to a quiz by Dr. Jill (http://www.drjillmurray.com/jill/quiz.html) that reporters and editors can use to prepare their own questions, and that viewers can use to be on the watch for signs of domestic violence.

We closed our pitch with information about Dr. Jill’s availability and an after-hours phone number where they could reach me. It’s critical to remember, when the national media calls, you may get only one chance to respond. Answer or return their calls immediately.
The take home point: Always look for ways you can make the media’s job as easy as possible. That’s really what delivers the goods, particularly when you are dealing with top tier media.


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