Over the past eight months, industry-leading companies and brands have been vying for the attention of the media’s ‘Tier 1’ priority business editors and writers. PR teams have been working hard to position those clients who have led by example in our ‘now normal’ with authenticity, compassion and relevance.
In turn, business writers have been inundated with pitches to encourage them to interview c-suite execs during the pandemic. Here at 8020, we’ve worked hard to cut through that noise. There will always be failed attempts, but the successful pitches make the effort worthwhile and our team is proud to share some tips on how we have created traction and positioned our clients with the business editors of, amongst others, the Financial Times, The Times, The Telegraph, CNN, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Bloomberg, Business Insider and the South China Morning Post.
- Identify your news and spokesperson
At any time, business editors want to hear stories which are relevant to the current news agenda and then have access to the most senior spokesperson available – the CEO or MD ideally. Covid-19-related news is of course key right now, but you have to give the journalist fantastic reasons to get them interested. They want to know why their readers will care about your angle: talk about the effects on real people, in real life situations. In a recent pitch to CNN for RAS Completions, a company based at our client London Biggin Hill Airport, we led with a ‘personal protection window’ it had developed to make airline seating more COVID-secure: interesting to CNN’s audience, and meeting with our client’s objective to promote London Biggin Hill as a hub for aerospace innovation.
- Pick your journalist
Not all business writers will care about your particular business – most of them will have specific industries they are responsible for and have a personal interest in. Build a relationship by ensuring they know you will provide them with value. The interview we recently achieved in the FT with Etihad’s CEO Tony Douglas was pitched directly to a journalist new to the transport beat and therefore geared to his needs for clear and readily understood topical comment. Do your research, pick the right journalist, work out what will pique their interest and, ideally, offer them an exclusive.
- It starts with you
As the PR consultant, you are going to be the first person the journalist has contact with. Work carefully on your initial pitch– keep it succinct and relevant, but ensure you have demonstrated you understand what they are looking for in a story. Recent coverage in The Times about supply chain sustainability for our client DG International was down to targeted Twitter engagement and a quick response, rather than a traditional email. Be sure to give the journalist an indication of which financial figures and data your spokesperson will be able to provide.
- Add value
In business, there is only a handful of people in the world whose name and job title alone are enough to secure an interview. Tailor your pitches based on the journalist’s interests and pitch independent commentary on topical issues, or upcoming events. Tell the journalist what your spokesperson would like to relay, why it matters and what the industry stance is. In April, our client Alton Aviation Consultancy was quickly able to predict in The Telegraph changes that would come to the travel industry as a result of COVID-19. The journalist wanted to speak to someone the same day they received the pitch – our spokesperson was flexible, available and in the right time zone to suit.
- Your job is never done
The first time you pitch an idea, you might not always be successful. Keep in touch with the journalist. Other news can sometimes get in the way, or maybe the journalist didn’t get the magic they were looking for – this does not mean it’s a wasted opportunity; your client may become a go-to contact for information next time. Thanks to the valuable and ongoing relationship our team has built with a freelance contributor to Forbes, we secured a 1-2-1 interview for our client Jetcraft about the increase of private jets during Covid-19.
We all know that our priority journalists receive hundreds of email pitches every day – help them by making your pitches relevant and ‘content-ready’ to get ahead of the game.