In 1918, William Strunk Jr. wrote in The Elements of Style, “A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.” Let’s take this quote a step further:
“A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences…and a pitch should contain no unnecessary words, sentences or paragraphs.”
As public relations professionals, we pitch on a daily basis, constantly tweaking and perfecting our writing to be more precise, simple and informative. When it comes to the elements of a good pitch, we sometimes forget we can simply go back to the basics. Ashley put together a presentation recently where she outlined the most basic elements of the pitch—and called it the “The Pitchwich.” (She personally thinks of it as a turkey sandwich, but it’s really up to you) Let’s break it down:
1. Bread slice = Greeting/Relevant tie-in (problem)
An email greeting might sound simple, but that’s not always the case. Kathleen Fasanella from Fashion-Incubator highlighted some good greetings she’d received from PR pitches:
- Addressed contact by name – not by a nickname.
- The PR rep didn’t pretend they were a “huge fan” of the blog. Mention it, but don’t over-sell it.
Why are you sharing this info? Kevin Dugan from the “Bad Pitch Blog” sums it up best when he writes, “Reporters don’t want random pitches, they want to hear about companies, insights, services and sources that are going to fill out and support the stories they are already working on. As a PR professional, you need to find reporters that cover topics related to your company or client, and you need to find a way to give them what they need, in a way that they can use it. If this means doing extra research, and going the extra mile, go for it.
2. Mayo = Introduction of product/service (solution)
This element shows how the client relates to a greeting, and can be a one-sentence statement of who/what the product/service is. In other words, tell them what the heck it is.
3. Meat = Details on client’s product/service
They know what it is; now why should they care? This is where you get to tell Mr. Journalist why your client is the best. Include key info on the client that separates them from competition and highlight why they should be interested. Bad Pitch Blog shows how to include the info:
- Short URLs for easier sharing
- Links to very specific content based on journalist’s needs
- Group together information to make it more of a palette of relevant content from which they can plug and play
4. Bread slice = Closing and call to action
The last step is a call to action—what do you want from them? Include a final question to offer an interview, product sample or additional information and/or images. Thank them for their time and let them know you are available for questions. Don’t forget to include all of your contact details!
- Be Understandable. Eliminate buzzwords and jargon from your conversation. Sell the benefit behind your product or service quickly and with simple words, and don’t make it too hard for people to understand what you do.
- Be Memorable. Your pitch will most certainly fail if nobody can remember it. One effective way of making your ideas easy to remember is by using analogies and metaphors to compare the idea, product or service with something that your audience is more familiar with.
- Be Emotional. Make them believe that you believe in what you are saying, and have a connection.
So, make William Strunk Jr. proud, and go back to the 1918-basics–make every word, sentence, paragraph, and pitch count.
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