Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Twitter approach to PR pitching

The New York Times Columnist David Pogue had the world's greatest idea today: 300-character PR pitches. Pogue's a tech columnist and came up with the idea so he can at least mention some more of the millions of technologies he gets pitched about, even if he doesn't review the technology.

But I think it's a great rule of thumb for PR people everywhere. Reporters are inundated with pitches. Almost all are way too long and I delete them before I read the first paragraph.

I had 880 unread emails in my inbox this morning. About 870 of them were totally worthless - full of jargon, not relevant, or took too long to get to the point to bother with. Of the small percentage of pitches I thought might be relevant,  I responded to one saying I'd like an interview, flagged two for later review, and I responded to four by saying: "Where is this company based?"

And before you go getting all smug: No, I'm not going to Google it. I have 880 emails to check.

If you can't tell me what your company does and why I should write about it in 300 characters or less, then chances are, that's not a pitch I'm going to read. I don't have time to dig through each pitch and determine how relevant it is, or if there truly is news. What would be helpful would be to put the news right up there in the first sentence - and, earth shaker here: What if that first sentence was the only sentence?

Here's what I, a regional business reporter, want to see in every pitch:

What company are you pitching? Where is the company headquartered? What is the news (growing, closing, hiring, new strategy, new management)?

If it's something that fits my criteria, I'll write about it. So save yourself the trouble of crafting a long, burdensome pitch that I'll never read. I truly believe all of this can be completed in 300 character or less.

Pitch Problem: Most PR pitches are WAY TOO LONG.

Pitch Fix: Scale pitches back to only the key information. Try making a pitch in 300 words or fewer.

A hypothetical template:

(City)-based (Company name) is (news), on (date).

Hypothetical Examples:

Palo Alto-based Tesla Motors is launching its model S sedan, the first sedan for the electric vehicle maker, July 1.  >>>>  24 words, 136 characters

San Francisco-based game company Zynga is announcing new partners and that it's opening up its platform to 3rd-party developers at an event July 1. Will you attend?  >>>>> 27 words, 139 characters

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