#PPRAsk: 4 Experts on Pitching Lessons from COVID-19

What it meant to be a public relations professional ten years ago is not the same as it is today. Even before a year of “unprecedented times,” PR was shifting from being solely focused on press releases and announcements. Now, these teams are also overseeing social media, influencer marketing, donor and investor messaging, and all other aspects of marketing and communications.

With this shift, the quintessential task of pitching has also evolved. Gone are the days where professionals would mass email a press release to an unfiltered list with hundreds of reporters. Modern public relations professionals need to be nimble and adjusting, with an emphasis on what they’re offering, who they’re pitching to, and why it matters after the pandemic. That’s why we asked some of our members about how their media pitching has changed during the pandemic.

Show, Don’t Tell.

So many of the best practices we’ve always employed became more important than ever during the pandemic,  for instance— building relationships, tailoring narratives, customizing pitches, and serving as a resource – but where we’re seeing the greatest shift and growing level of importance, is around the concept of “show, don’t tell.” It’s no longer just about smart and strategic storytelling, but rather illustrating the narrative in creative ways that capture attention and efficiently deliver the information. This can be done through data and metrics, showcasing results, using strong visuals with an emphasis on video and mixed multimedia, and putting people at the forefront of stories.”

⁠— Allie Seifert, Director of Public Relations at Cashman & Associates

Re-Focusing on the Relations in Media Relations

“Amid a time in which so many were physically isolated or feeling adrift in the uncertainty of the pandemic, I re-prioritized the relations aspect of media relations. I reminded myself the reporter on the receiving end of a pitch also was going through extraordinary circumstances. We all were doing the best we could in our professions and our personal situations despite the chaos of the moment. In normal times we all aim to be a helpful source of stories to reporters, but in 2020 the importance of tailoring pitches and ensuring information was relevant and digestible was reinforced. We recalibrated; not only is this key for achieving business goals, but also it is critical in developing to be a trusted, reliable partner to media contacts.”

⁠— Angelica Flynn, Senior Account Executive at AKCG – Public Relations Counselors

What Do Reporters Really Want?

The pandemic has opened our eyes to the things that work in our society and the extensive list of things that don’t. The same holds true for communicators, we are now seeing that the authentic and relevant pitches are the ones that get responses over the generalized and irrelevant submissions. My biggest change is that I take the time to truly consider what myself and my client care about and what the media professional and their audience will resonate with. We have to really sit back and think about what people want to see and hear as they transition through a pandemic that has changed our lives, in some ways, permanently. As communicators we need to focus our pitches on how this brand/service will help solve a relevant problem and how it will make the media professionals’ audience feel when it comes across their timeline, desk, etc.”

⁠— Jade A. Daniels, M.S., Founder & Owner of Clara Communications Public Relations Agency

Be A Human

“Be a human. Of course this was important pre covid but with everything we have all gone through during the pandemic it is more important than ever to not just reach out to media or a client with a pitch. Reach out just to see how people are doing. Think about those in your own life who have reached out during covid and how that made you feel. That’s memorable. And that’s what builds relationships long term.” 

⁠— Jennifer Lynn Robinson, Esquire, CEO of Purposeful Networking

About #PPRAsk

In this new series, we’re asking PPRA’s own pros the questions that matter most. Interested in being included in a roundup? Email Leo at lmanning@slicecommunications.com for more information!

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