pitching meme

The Red PR Group has achieved some great business profiling for our clients in the last few weeks alone. Social media savvy fashion label Sabo Skirt has been featured in News Corp’s business edition (both print and online), Superannuation Property was seen in AFR and the Aussie Commerce Group in BRW.

However, pitching to business journalists is in a league of its own. That’s why I’ve turned to the king of business writing, Jeff Haden, to get some insight into the mind of a great business journo. He has written four #1 hits on Amazon’s Business and Investing bestseller list as a ghost writer, is a columnist for Inc. magazine (a leading international business title), and a he is LinkedIn Influencer. Here he shares his best tips for PRs on how to pitch to business journalists.

Jeff Haden

Don’t tell me your story is unique

No offense, but it really isn’t. There are thousands of Ramen noodle stories. There are thousands of 3 a.m. “Eureka!” stories. There are thousands of maxed-out credit cards, relatives won’t return your calls, eleventh-hour investor/saviour stories. Your story is deservedly fascinating to you because you lived it, but to the average reader your story sounds a lot like every other entrepreneur’s story. Claiming your story is unique creates an expectation that, if not met, negatively impacts the rest of your pitch.

Besides: if your story truly is unique, I’ll know. You won’t have to tell me.

Don’t tell me how much a little publicity will help you

Never waste time by explaining how this could be a win-win relationship or, worse, by claiming you want to share your wisdom because you simply want to help others.

I know you want publicity and I know why. I get it. We’re cool.

Know what I’ve done recently

It’s easy to think, “Hey, he recently wrote about mission statements… I should pitch a story about how we help companies develop their mission statements!” Um, no. I just wrote about mission statements. I’m good for the next year or so (or more.) Don’t assume one article indicates an abiding fascination with a particular topic.

On the other hand, do feel free to pitch if you aren’t a member of the choir I just preached to. For example, I wrote this Twitter post and one reader took a very different point of view; her email resulted in another post where I recognised I was wrong.

Different points of view catch my attention; same thing, different day does not.

Know my interests.

You certainly don’t need to know I enjoy late-night walks on the beach. (Hey, who doesn’t?) But skim a few posts and you’ll know I like cycling, like books, know some professional athletes, think most perks do more harm than good (even though a lot of people don’t agree), and have a little more knowledge about some things than I probably should.

So if you really want to attract attention, don’t use the tried-but-in-no-way-true “mention something the writer recently wrote about and how you really enjoyed it” approach. Instead put your effort into finding an angle that may appeal to my interests.

If you can’t be bothered to do that much, you don’t really want publicity after all.

Forget hoping for a profile piece

Straight profile pieces that tell the story of a business are boring. (At least I think so.) I don’t want to know what you do; I want to know what you know.

If you started a company, share five things you learned about landing financing. If you developed a product, share four mistakes you made early on. If you entered a new market, share three strategies you used to steal market share from competitors.

The best articles let others learn from your experience, your mistakes, and your knowledge. Always focus on benefitting readers—when you do, your company will get to bask in the reflected PR glow of your wit and wisdom.

The more you feel you need to say, the less you really have to say

Some people think writers are lazy and look for stories that write themselves. I can’t argue with the lazy part… but I really don’t want to read a 1,000-word pitch with a comprehensive overview of the topic and every semi-relevant statistic. If the best products can be described in a few sentences, so can the best pitches.

“Women currently control $13 trillion of the world’s $18.4 trillion in consumer spending, yet 71% of women feel brands only consider them for beauty and cleaning products. Want to hear how brands can better market to women?”

Why, yes. I think I do.

*These tips have been published on the Red PR blog with Jeff’s consent, and have previously been published on Inc.com.

By Mira Palomäki

15 Years of Fame