Speed Pitching Event Advice for the Novice

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By Mike Lesczinski, President, PRSA Capital Region

Would you like to pitch your company or organization at PRSA’s upcoming Speed Pitching event but unsure how? Don’t worry! Just because your organization doesn’t have the resources to hire a seasoned PR pro doesn’t mean you should miss out on having your story told.

Many of our attendees last year were just regular folks who had the courage to put aside their trepidation and sit down across the table from a journalist and have a conversation.

Here are some tips for beginners:

1)      Prepare a one minute “elevator” speech for your company. You only have three minutes, so you want to introduce yourself and your company to each reporter within the first minute. Who you are, what you do and how you impact the local community, consumer or world at large.

2)      Use the next minute to “pitch” the media on a newsworthy happening at your organization that you want them to cover. Make sure to tell them “why” their particular audience will care about the story. For instance, if your nonprofit is funding a particular medical study, give the reporter statistics on how many in the Capital are impacted and perhaps let them know of a local individual with the ailment they could interview. Be prepared for follow-up questions.

3)      Research each reporter prior to the event. The key to public relations is an understanding that every reporter/editor/producer has different assignments and interests. If you want to be successful, research the background of the confirmed media for the event and learn what types of stories they cover. If you can find a way to build upon a past story you are well on your way.

4)      Remember to keep in mind the type of outlet you are pitching. Television producers want “visuals” and radio stations like WAMC seek material that will make for interesting “soundbytes.”

5)      Bring background information on your company filed in a folder for each reporter to take with them. Be smart about it. A news reporter won’t have time to read an encyclopedia of your company’s history or have space on their desk to hold onto to it. Provide them with a one-sheet with bullet points and key differentiators they can peruse on their own time and directs them to additional information at your website.

6)      Remember, not every reporter is going to be a great fit for your pitch! If an individual’s assignment beat is outside the scope of what your company does, just use your three minutes as an opportunity to introduce yourself! Securing news coverage is all about building meaningful relationships. Get to know the person across from you and you will feel more comfortable picking up the phone and giving them a call in the future and vice versa.

7)      Register. You can’t hit a home run until you get yourself in the game.

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