Tag Archives: pitch

Stop Stealing Ideas

I’ve seen it happen a few times and I’ve heard stories of many other instances. Every once in a while, a brand initiates an RFP only to hijack ideas from agencies without any plans to ever hire one of the them or pay them for their ideas.

New business is one of the life bloods of agency folks, so we get excited at the opportunity to pitch a new client. But the RFP process is a very vulnerable time for agencies.

People – junior, mid-level and senior – spend hours pouring through research and background info to develop a killer strategy and rock solid tactics. And they do this on top of their current client work, which means they’re giving up evenings and, often times, weekends for the pitch.

Sure it sucks to lose a pitch after all the hard work that goes into it. But that’s part of life. Having your ideas stolen, though, is ridiculous. Whether the culprit *suddenly* realizes it loves the incumbent agency it spoke so harshly about during the entire process or slinks away without hiring any of the agencies in review and cherry picks from the spectrum of free ideas to execute in house, it’s unethical.

It also completely disrespects the true value of both creative ideas and the time and sacrifice of developing those ideas.

Older colleagues have always just shrugged their shoulders and said something like, “that’s the risk you take with new business” when I’ve asked about it. Is that an acceptable answer? Can anything be done to limit this practice?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Agencies that make it to the final rounds of a pitch get a flat fee as compensation for their ideas.
  • If a brand doesn’t choose an agency, but likes a particular idea it presented, it could compensate the agency by providing some fees for the idea.
  • Create a public blacklist of brands who have hijacked ideas. The list would be governed by a third party – say PRSA, for example – that would investigate and confirm the claim before posting.

Of course the last option is a bit dangerous. I doubt I’d actually vote for that one. But I do think this is something we shouldn’t just shrug our shoulders about any more, especially given the current economic state and the fact that more brands are cutting back on marketing budgets. Those circumstances increase the likelihood that a few misfits will venture down the path of looking to get more for less – or for free.

Would any of those ideas help? Do you have a suggestion to toss in the pot?

*Image by Saxon Moseley.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my RSS feed, either by reader or by e-mail.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Phone Pitch Tips for Young PR Pros

Last month, Jeremy Pepper wrote a blog post saying PR pros have become too dependent on things like email to pitch reporters. In the comments section, Jeremy says the post was mainly a primer for entry-level PR people not to use technology as a crutch.

That reminded me about the many times I’ve heard people point to junior-level PR types as the major culprits when it comes to not picking up the phone to pitch. That may be true, but only because they’re usually the ones doing all the pitching. Too many senior-level PR people don’t actually pitch stories.

Yes, that’s one of the main responsibilities for junior-level people. But it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re not throwing them to the wolves. I have a friend who was told to pitch The Wall Street Journal on her first day at her first agency job out of college. She stumbled through the phone call, annoyed the reporter and felt like a tool.

I think one reason younger PR folks avoid the phone is because they are petrified of getting yelled at or becoming the subject of a pissed off reporter’s new blog post. That’s why we need to be purposeful and persistent in sharing media relations best practices with them from day one

Jeremy shares a couple tips for them on his post in regards to picking up the phone to pitch. Here are a few more that I’ve found helpful:

  • Encapsulate the story in one brief sentence for your opening. For example, “Bob, my name is David Mullen. I have a story about a high-profile family overcoming personal tragedy to found a camp for sick kids. Do you have a minute?” Bob will know right away if he’s interested enough to hear more or not.
  • Don’t launch into your pitch without asking if he “has a minute.” That annoys most people, not just journalists.
  • Capitalize on a “no.” If he hears you out, but isn’t interested, take a second to ask what topics he is interested in for future reference.
  • Keep it in perspective. My first boss said, “if you call 10 reporters and seven say ‘no,’ that can seem like a bad media relations outing. BUT keep it in perspective. Batting .300 will get you in the Hall of Fame.”

Your turn to help. What tidbits would you add to help young pros approach media relations with more confidence and better results?

*Image by Alexander O’Neill.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my RSS feed, either by reader or by e-mail.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

The PR Pitch Dilemma

Jeremy Pepper wrote a post yesterday about how we in the PR biz have become slaves to technology. He believes it’s caused many of us to abandon the phone and in-person meetings with reporters thanks to the ease of email pitches. Lost, he says, are the real relationships that make us valuable and, subsequently, many press clippings for clients.

His post got me thinking. There’s a PR pitch dilemma going on in our industry and reporters and PR people created it.

In short, it boils down to this: Most journalists want to be pitched by email, but a good percentage of pitches are sold only after picking up the phone and calling. So what’s a PR pro to do?

Many reporters these days prefer to be pitched by email. That’s great. But email pitches present two problems. First, we need to know if reporters are interested in a pitch or not. Bosses are asking and clients are asking. Since journalists often don’t reply to most email pitches from PR people they haven’t worked with yet, you have to pick up the phone and ask. Either that or you assume they aren’t interested and report that. But then you look like an idiot if a story shows up two weeks later and the reason the reporter didn’t let you know he was interested is because he didn’t need any further info from you.

Second, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called to follow up on an email pitch I didn’t get a response on and the reporter was interested AFTER we talked. “I didn’t see that email, can you send me more info?” Many of those calls turned into stories for my clients.

See the dilemma? So, I offer a hearty apology to journalists, but if you don’t respond to my initial email, I have to pick up the phone and call. But I promise to only send you emails and give you phone calls when I’ve got an angle I believe is truly newsworthy.

And that’s where PR people have contributed to the dilemma. I’ve heard from several of my media connections that they often don’t see and respond to good email pitches because they get lost in the sea of daily emails they receive, many of which are pitches that are completely irrelevant to their beats, their interests and their audiences. Hopefully, those with the good stuff have the wherewithal to pick up the phone.

Do you see the dilemma? How do you navigate it?

*Image by Dan McKay.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my RSS feed, either by reader or by e-mail.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Readers Vote on PR Pitches They Want Reporters to Cover

We sometimes open media pitches by saying something about believing it will be interesting for that outlet’s readers/viewers/listeners. FastCompany.com is taking PR people up on that in a new way that turns the assumption of what readers want covered into the reality of what they want covered.

Now, PR folks can submit their pitches publicly to Fast Company’s “The Killer Pitch” blog and readers vote the pitches up or down based on what they’d like to read about. If you’re trying to get an idea of it in your head without clicking on that link, think Digg.

This is the first I’ve heard of this, but I could see other media outlets doing it moving forward. Why wouldn’t they?

Why it’s Great for Media
1. It involves readers in the editorial decision-making process. Giving your audience some ownership in the finished product helps make for more loyal readers.
2. It ensures that Fast Company covers topics its subscribers want to read about in its pages and online.
3. It could cut back on the number of pitches individual reporters receive and reserve more of their time for researching, interviewing and writing.

Why it’s Great for PR
1. Whether the story is written or not, readers who participate in the process see your pitch and learn a bit about your new product, service, etc.
2. It requires more time spent crafting the pitch to as close to near perfection as possible, since it will be made public.

What do you think about this move? Does it provide a great opportunity for media relations? Do you think others will follow?

Thanks to my friend Mark Tosczak for the tip-off. I’ve cross-posted this from relentlessPR, the Mullen PR team blog, where I also post regularly.

*Image by Daniel Morrison.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my RSS feed, either by reader or by e-mail.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

How NOT to Pitch Bloggers

I’ve seen a LOT of bloggers calling out PR pros specifically in posts the past couple months. When you’re finished reading this, scroll back up and check out this example for your reading and learning pleasure from Eric Karjaluoto that he posted last week.

They all share the same tips for approaching them the right way – read their blogs, start a conversation, contribute through comments. It’s the same thing offline reporters have been telling PR folks for years –read my past articles, know what I cover.

The challenge is that many clients care more about quantity than they do quality. The only PR stat many CEOs or board members look at is total number of impressions (circulation, audience, readers, etc.). They base their perception on successful PR on that one little (or big) number. So clients want to see massive call reports and the bigger the better. They want as many emails sent and phone calls made as possible within each hour. That approach doesn’t give the account team time to research the people they’re pitching.

Our industry jokes about “smile and dial,” but that’s one of the reasons we get a bad rap among reporters. We’re doing the same with email blasts when we “spray and pray.” The difference – and it’s a big difference – is that managing editors aren’t going to give up precious editorial space for a reporter to vent about bad PR pitches. Bloggers, on the other hand, have much more liberty to draft a negative post to vent their frustrations.

What Eric and others are asking for – dialogue – takes a strong investment in time and energy by either clients, agencies or both. And the relationships aren’t built overnight.

As we all find ourselves beginning to target blogs and other social media, my question is “Does this change the way we reach out to bloggers going forward?” I believe it should if we want to give ourselves the best chance at success and lessen our chances of becoming the subject of blog posts about “PR Idiots.” But that will take a shift in focus from both clients and agencies that values quality over quantity. At the least, they should be valued equally.

Do you think we need to change our approach? Do you completely disagree?

*Image by Stefano Brivio.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my RSS feed, either by reader or by e-mail.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine