Media Pitch or Press Release?
Pitches and press releases are the two basic tools in any PR campaign. Knowing when to use one or the other is key to generating the right publicity for your story.
Pitches and press releases are both ways of getting information to the press in the hopes that the media will pick up your story, but the two are very different in form, function, and purpose. At times, you may need to use both to build the buzz around your story. One of the most common misconceptions about PR is that you need to distribute press releases to get media coverage. Few people know you can get media exposure without writing a press release.
What is a press release? How is it different from a media pitch and when do you use one or the other? Let’s take a look at both approaches and when to use them.
Making the right pitch
A pitch is a brief (commonly sent by emails these days) almost never longer than one page. It can accompany a press release, or stand on its own. A pitch serves one purpose – to pique the journalist’s interest in your story. They do not have to tell the whole story. Rather, they are “teasers” for the meat of your story angle. If you’ve hooked the journalist with your pitch, you have a real chance of getting the rest of your press materials read and your story placed.
When pitching a story, it’s important to know to whom you’re pitching to. Take the time to research the target media asking these basic questions: What do they write about? What’s their style? What are some of their recent articles like? With this information in hand, you can craft a personalised note to the journalist telling them why they may be interested in this story.
Remember, the purpose of a pitch is to frame the story in a way that makes it clear to the journalist that it fits in with that media outlet’s approach.
Press release simplified
The more familiar press release is essentially a piece that hopefully covers a newsworthy bit of information. Unlike a pitch, press releases are distributed much more widely – generally sent to reporters and newsrooms. A good press release will be written in a style most commonly used by journalists, so that portions of it can be used wholesale in a newspaper or website.
A press release is generally longer than a pitch and provides details of something newsworthy that is likely to draw immediate attention – such as breaking news, an important event that’s coming up (even better if there’s an impressive guest list of politicians, dignitaries or world renowned experts), or a never–before–seen product about to be launched. If your story fits the above criteria, then a press release is the best way to get the word out.
Breaking it all down
Either a media pitch or a press release can get you free media exposure. If you don’t know how to write a press release, don’t have staff on hand who can write one, or can’t afford to hire a press release writer, then a media pitch is the easiest way for you to start getting PR. If you have a newsworthy story about your business, not having a press release shouldn’t get in your way. Write a media pitch instead!
When you really get down to core, you will find that publicity is little more than one person persuading another. You, as the publicity seeker, must persuade a journalist that your story is worthy of receiving print space or air–time. Your ability to sell your story to a journalist is what it’s all about. Journalists are very busy people – too much detail and too much rambling will only tune them out. When it comes to persuasion, keep it simple, short and to the point and you’ll get results!