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For those in the world of media relations, the struggles of pitching are all too familiar. Reporters are tricky to catch and the competition for a limited number of placements is fierce. Despite these frustrations, a pitch’s trajectory is almost always the same. First, we pitch a story. Then, if it finds home, we create it.
But what if we did the opposite? Consider this — what if the pitch process was like online dating?
I’m not suggesting that we start sending our clients on blind dates, but there’s something to be said about how dating sites situate their users. The process is intuitive and it’s highly strategic. That’s because it’s in reverse. Here’s how public relations professionals can improve the pitching process.
1. Develop a Story: Pitching is meant to showcase a client’s strengths, but messaging can get lost in the fervor of securing placements. Newsjacking is a great way to optimize trends, but it’s not always the easiest way to promote a client’s business goals.
In the same way that early content creation builds better romance, we can use content-driven pitching to generate more successful placements. Sites like eHamony and OkCupid probe users with a monsoon of personal questions. And while some are stranger than others — would you ever eat something out of the trash — these questions develop the most triangulated persona possible. In doing so, dating sites develop the story — the user — before any connections are made. Just as not everyone is a perfect ten, content-driven pitching helps avoid securing uninteresting or challenging placements.
2. Understand Your Audience: There are many appeals to thinking with a headline in mind, and one of the biggest is foresight. When you develop stories in terms of their ability to place, you give yourself opportunities to target pitches and augment media lists. Content-driven pitching is also a great way to build content around tricky topics or clients.
Most dating sites work behind the scenes to develop a deeper understanding of their users. Complex algorithms eliminate non-ideal matches by leveraging a more calculated model of user information. This is exactly what reversed content production can do for a client. By emphasizing a client’s strengths and messaging, we can locate the reporters and publications most likely to cover those specific fields. Most pitching already does this, but we can make even more minute distinctions when the content comes first.
3. Write First, Pitch Second: With both the story and the target audience decided, the final step is to write content that fits. An overlap between online dating and media relations exists because both endeavors center on a singular goal — finding a perfect match.
Media relations and online dating have many of the same concerns, too. The biggest is fear of rejection. Will they like me? Am I presenting myself in the best way? What do others have that I don’t? These questions could be about an elusive publication or an unresponsive dating profile.
For media relations and online dating, writing first and pitching second builds confidence around content deliverability. Dating sites locate a user’s interests to more decisively find better matches among the digital masses. As marketers, we can use reverse-engineered pitching to do the same for our clients.
The comparison of online dating and media relations may seem strange, but the two are oddly similar. For both, creating content first is an easy way to drive better results. Reverse-engineered pitching is by no means an exclusive solution. However, when partnered with traditional pitching it creates a nuanced approach to media relations.
The change is a simple one, but this orientation is proven to work and can increase the rate of successful matches — some more platonic than others.
Do you pitch with a headline in mind? Tell us about your best practices @WalkerSands.