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PRogress not PRfection

Lara Kretler’s blog Columbus Ohio

The best pitches are not pitches at all

June 9th, 2008 · 7 Comments

While the battles rage on between PR people and journalists out there in one sphere of the social media universe, here in the neighborhood of the everyday, I’ve had some pretty wonderful encounters with media contacts this week.

It occurs to me that my very best pitches are not pitches at all, but rather offers to help media. Today I reached out several times to reporters and didn’t try to sell a single one on something specifically related to my clients. Rather, in short friendly emails, I offered targeted tidbits that were just enough to let the recipient know that I could be useful down the line. And you know what? I got a friendly response back from each one, in some cases asking for more right away, and in other cases letting me know they’d be contacting me in a few weeks/months to follow up and get more info. Score!

I’ve spent enough time in the social media realm reading about the horrors of “mass PR” to not even want to send news releases out anymore. I’d much rather contact media as if they were bloggers – slowly, building relationships inch by inch, offering a little help here, adding value there, and through it all proving I’m trustworthy and reliable. Yes it takes more time, but it’s ultimately a lot more satisfying for both parties.

And by the way, Peter Shankman, love him or hate him (I’m in the former camp), is on to something really splendid with his Help a Reporter Out service. I discovered it first on Facebook and have been on his email list since day one. I’m not able to answer every query of course, or even one query out of a dozen. But when I can it’s great and the very name of his service – HARO – is a constant reminder of what we should be doing as PR people. That’s what it’s about, plain and simple. I wonder if Peter should do a spinoff called HABO?

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Tags: Blogging · PR · social media

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Leo Bottary // Jun 9, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    Lara, what you’re doing is the way it should work. Young journalists are often taught that PR people are the enemy, and fledgling PR people are initially intimidated, form bad impressions and bad habits, and voila! You get the prevailing state of PR/media relations.

    The reality is that we’re invaluable resources to one another. The missing ingredient is trust. When it exists, as you have shown, the relationship works, when there’s no trust, there’s no hope! What to do.

  • 2 larak // Jun 9, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    Thanks, Leo. You know, I think I’m going to develop a presentation about the art of non-pitching and give it to our staff. When I look at the best media relations folks at our agency — one guy in particular whom we call the “Media Whisperer” — they are the most natural, least rehearsed ones. Not necessarily (in fact often not) the most buttoned up, well-scripted or professional! People want to hear from other people, not from a walking talking business card.

  • 3 Leo Bottary // Jun 10, 2008 at 5:58 am

    So true. Authenticity builds trust, and trust wins the day!

  • 4 Carlita // Jun 11, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    I agree with you there Lara! I believe that the biggest part of PR is establishing great relationships. Especially with reporters. When I was in undergrad, we were given advice on how to pitch stories to reporters and it seemed as though reporters were scary monsters and you had to tip toe around them. Now that I have a little bit of experience, I understand, that the relationship that you build with reporters, media or anyone for that matter, is the best thing that you can have. It becomes a dependent relationship. The reporter can rely on you for a good story and you can provide it. Great topic!

  • 5 larak // Jun 11, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Thank you, Carlita. Glad to have you stop by the blog, especially since you were one of my early blogging inspirations! Thanks again for your great conversation and company at lunch today.

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