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When to Pitch and when to Press release

Many businesses don't understand the difference between pitching a journalist and sending a press release. Yet, they are two different things. Follow the guide!

When clients are to send a press pitch, they often think a press release is a press pitch . It’s not. While the two are related they are very different serving different purposes. If you send a press release when its meant to be a pitch, it will be binned fast and vice versa. So, it’s good to know the difference between the two.

A pitch sells an idea for a story, creating a whole strand of news. A press release capitalizes on an existing trend of news by adding a fresh angle to that item on the news agenda.

Anatomy of a press pitch.

The product: This could be an actual product, an event or a new situation that is on the cusp of getting wide public attention. You must state briefly what the product is and why its interest to the mediums readers is rising and of relevance to their needs. The interest could be because the readers have shown interest and support for similar products in the genre or illustrates an emerging new trend in the sector. An example in the food industry is one of jams and preserves moving from the breakfast table into the kitchen to be used as marinades and not just spreads. This extends the products and opens whole new avenues for their use.

The key drivers of growth: Here the pitch would outline what is driving growth of interest in the product or event or situation. It’s not enough to say interest is growing you need stats and facts to back up the assertion. It could be your own growth and sales figures, it could be figures across the industry. In the food example above, the rise of celebrity chefs, TV cookery created an ever-growing need for artisan produced food and the desire just to be different. It can be illustrated through industry stats, your own market research, taste tests and so on. This proves you’re not dreaming and that if covered, the story will find traction due to an emerging need readers recognize. Remember here to provide sources of your information and promise to provide more if requested by the journalist.

Personalisation of the pitch: A press pitch is not a generic item. It's tailored for the medium you’re targeting. So, refer to the strand of news or the section of the publication or blog your pitch would fit into on that medium. This assures the journalist you know their medium and understand their readers. You might even refer to past items in the target section of the medium. All attempts at personalizing the pitch get the journalists attention, and of course you must spell their name and other details right.

Subject line: All headlines are important but the subject line of the pitch in the email carrying it is most important of all. It determines if the pitch will even be read. Don’t make it salesy or stress the free samples for testing. You might like to use the “food product that’s changed the way we cook.” Or “Poultry meat and fish will not taste the same again.” Both, say for the marinating preserve, suggest a revolution in cooking and taste. Who is not interested in that?  It introduces a new idea.

Anatomy of a press release.

A press release capitalizes on existing interest in a news trend and piggy backs on that to get coverage. You must achieve the following:

Show news relevance: At the start of the release you must connect your brand product event or situation to an existing trend of interest in the news which you are going to move further with. In the preserves business you might mention the quality of the products which makes them wholesome and useful in other ways.

Provide evidence of quality: Through quotes, simple statistics and life story you might show how the preserves were started, grew and became successful, mentioning awards won, usage by famous figures or hotels and catering establishments and other facts that show the pedigree, quality and public interest in the product. Human interest is always attention getting and humanizes any product event or situation adding uniqueness. So organizers, founders, staff , customers and their experiences instantly elevate interest in a story.

Headline: Again, very important and written last when the release is complete, this should be sharp punchy and attention grabbing to highlight the product and its value to users.

Don’t send a press release when a press pitch is required or vice versa. The press pitch introduces the idea of the story is much shorter and creates a relationship with a journalist. The Press release capitalizes on the existing ideas in news but adds new angles to keep them fresh.

Written by: Tetteh Kofi, Brand Ambassador for JournoLink

Tetteh is a broadcast journalist with credits on the BBC, ITN, LBC and Colourful Radio in news and current affairs. He published newspapers and has run training and crisis management programmes for multinationals and government agencies across Europe.

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