PITCHES

1. a presentation of what you’re selling to a possibly interested party;
2. advertisement;
3. recommendation, plug.  

How do you convince someone to do a story on you/your show/your project/your product?  Answer a few questions for yourself.  “What makes it interesting and different?  What does it take to garner interest?”  In doing so, you will discover your angles.  Really think through the story that YOU want to tell and see how that relates to the angles you discovered.  And then start to tell that story to the media you’re pitching.  Have a beginning, middle and end.  Think about how to tell your story in a unique and engaging way, whether for print and online media, or broadcast/video.  And don’t forget that just because you think something is interesting, doesn’t necessarily mean that the media will too, so be open to adjusting your approach and changing tactics.

You need to tailor your pitch to the outlet and contact that you’re sending it to.  This is of the utmost importance if you want to receive a response.  Familiarizing yourself with a particular journalist’s writing will help you make sure that your story is resonant.  The single best way to do that is to read their work.  If the story you’re telling doesn’t resonate with the contact you’re pitching, they won’t bite.  If you know their beat, then you will know if they are a good bet for telling your story.  

What is the segment you are pitching?  A segment is a portion of a show, whether an interview, a roundup of products, an investigative report, etc.  Is it a recurring segment on a particular show or a column online or in print?  Really learn that segment or column and see what they have covered in the past to see if your pitch makes sense for it. 

A print or online piece is aided by visual elements on the page, but it is more about the arc of your story.  Stories need a beginning, middle and end.  In addition to a great story arc, a television or video pitch needs to be VERY visually engaging – it doesn’t necessarily need to have visuals included in your inital pitch, though that can help sometimes.  Think about what you’d want to see on television and what interests you.  

Sharing video footage often helps producers get a sense of how well you do on camera.  Most people’s attention span is about 90 seconds, so try to keep the video short and sweet.  A link is my preferred format of sharing, either a Vimeo link that is password protected, or an unlisted YouTube page.  

The more you’re on camera, the better you’ll be at it.  You can practice by shooting video interviews with your phone and watch back to see any habits that you have and might not be flattering.  Awareness is the lever of change!  (That is one of only two fortunes that I’ve kept from a fortune cookie.  The other is ‘Your flair for the creative takes an important place in your life.’)

We’ll talk about this more in the coverage reports lesson, but organizing the coverage that your work resulted in will help you, as coverage often begets coverage.  The caveat to that statement is that you don’t want to pitch another similar or competing outlet the same story that someone else has written by sharing the link.  It is one thing to send the same or same-ish pitch, it is another to share coverage and ask someone to rewrite it in their outlet.  And trust me, it isn’t fun when they tell you that!

Also, keep in mind the time of day.  Many journalists and producers prefer to get pitches in the morning, so delay delivery for Outlook (or Boomerang if you’re using Gmail) is my favorite thing to use!  Write that shit when you have time, and set to forget it.  

But don’t completely forget, you want to make sure that you’re following up.  The delicate balance here is following up often enough to check in, but not so often that you’re stalking.  I like to check in once a week or so if we have the luxury of time.  Otherwise, you can check in every few days.  There is no set rule for this, you should do what makes you comfortable (unless that is not following up, in which case do what makes you UNcomfortable).  Also, apparently the word ‘stalk’ is some sort of mental trigger, so on my third email (second follow up), I usually say ‘sorry to stalk’ and often that helps get an answer.  It is always better to get an answer, even if the answer is no.

Let’s talk about getting your story “off of the entertainment pages” – that’s publicist speak for ‘where the hell else can this story go?  Who else can tell it?  How do we get it in front of people who may not be the usual suspects?’ And the answer is always the same.  RESEARCH.  You’ll notice that a lot of pitching is researching (I know, not the most fun thing in the world, but a necessity if you want it to work).  

Is there an interesting angle that is a fit with another vertical?  For example, is there a story to tell in the tech sector about your new show and a new or different piece of tech that is included?  Does someone involved with the production have a strange and interesting story to tell in a human interest way?  Do you have a political message?  Is there an opportunity for an Op Ed around a conversation that is happening in the greater world?  Think about where else you can tell the story.

Examples

As Center Theatre Group nears a half century of producing engaging and entertaining theatre in Los Angeles, the joke ‘live theatre in LA’ is not funny since it is thriving! This is a company that has been at the center of LA’s cultural movements for fifty years and proves that theatre can remain a vital force even against the glow of Hollywood’s bright lights.  

For a city obsessed with film, television and celebrity, organizations like Center Theatre Group allow actors, writers and directors the opportunity to return to their roots and fulfill their artistic passions. The theatre has brought culture and depth to a town with a reputation of plasticity and shallowness. To be able to survive and flourish in such a landscape, creativity and an ability to adapt are vital qualities and Center Theatre Group has proven again and again that those are traits that the company exhibits.

From their groundbreaking, culturally significant productions such as Zoot Suit, Angels in America and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad 200, along with huge Broadway-bound musicals, to the starry talent who have graced the stage – Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Lawrence Fishburne, Angela Lansbury, John Lithgow, Viola Davis and Chris Pine – some of the most recognizable names and Pulitzer Prize finalists and Pulitzer-winning work have been part of the Center Theatre Group family for the last five decades.

There is a story to be told and I hope that CBS Sunday morning is interested in telling it- Please let me know what you think.

Many thanks,
Emily

Hi XX,

Hope you are well! I wanted to reach out about our fun and exciting client, Magic Men Live, the live stage performance that brings the pop culture phenomenon of the Male Dance Revue to cities nationwide.

Magic Men Live allows fantasies come to life through visual story lines, state of the art design elements, theatrical performances and mind blowing special effects (…and abs). Designed with the desires of contemporary women in mind, the show features a talented line-up of stunning guys sure to appeal to a variety of tastes. Magic Men Live has captivated audiences young and old with an intensely exciting and wildly fun show that leaves you in an exhilarated, euphoric state.

Now while it still may be cold outside, the group knows how to stay HOT this season and we’d love to have a couple of the guys drop by the studio before their CITY performance at the VENUE on DATE to show-off some moves and maybe even help with some on-camera duties with the local meteorologist for a fun ”It’s Raining Men” segment. We can also offer tickets to the CITY performance as well as an on-camera interview with Myles Hass, the brainchild behind the sexy troupe, to get the ladies in CITY excited about the show. Alternatively, we can provide b-roII and copy for coverage that does not involve an interview.

Would you be interested in setting up a fun ”It’s Raining Men” segment with the sexy cast, an interview with Myles and/ or tickets to the show? Looking forward to hearing from you! 

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