At WriteCulture we teach all kinds of tech PR workshops and seminars to corporate PR staff and PR agency account teams. When we teach the pitching class we run into the same roadblocks across the PR spectrum… too much jargon, wasted email intros with lifeless descriptions of company products, and no hooks to grab the reporter’s attention.
Many PR writers assemble a pitch and then pray for the reporter’s interest. They bank on the allure of their client’s nth iteration of, say, anti-malware software. This leaves reporters wondering, “Why should I care?”
Why do we pitch this way?
Because we’re here to serve the executives on the corporate side and our clients on the agency side. We want to dazzle the journalist with the app’s new features and hope that makes the grade. Maybe we’re afraid to ask questions because we think we should know the answer. Or we’re shy to ask for what we need because we’re the new kid on the account team and we’re supposed to absorb all the information before we speak up.
Perhaps it’s none of these things.
Rather, perhaps it’s the glaring omission in the pitch – that is, the problem the solution fixes! … the people involved, their pain (and gain). Too often, PR writers describe the company’s side of the equation (the solution) without mentioning the customer’s side (the problem).
Journalists like to write stories about people solving problems in stories of transformation. The most important words in that statement? People, problems. Notice we didn’t say “companies, solutions.” Sure, the company and solution ends up in the final story, but that’s not what hooks journalists or their “readers (aka customers and prospective customers).”
A winning pitch is not a jargon-filled product description. But if you read the average technology pitch you’ll wonder what problem the technology solves. At WriteCulture, we know this because we read countless pitches across many agencies and companies. We know that this misguided omission of “the problem” is commonplace.
The problem might strike you as implicit in the company’s solution. But it must be spelled out, it must be demonstrated. It should strike a visceral cord in the journalist. Showing her the problem clearly shows you understand her audience’s needs and pain, and demonstrates your product’s relevance in the life of the reader.
In the WriteCulture Pitching Workshop we tell team members to put the solution on ice and focus only on the problem. That might sound harsh, or maybe even difficult or off-putting to your client. But we’ve seen the results. It works.
Not only should the problem be front and center, it should start the pitch. Introduce your client at the end. That’s right… if the reporter is sold on the problem, she’ll read further and contact your company.
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To explore the possibility of a workshop for your team, contact us at Info@WriteCulture.com.