Monday, September 25, 2017

Pitching Your Story

One of the things that sets our firm apart in a world of canned spam is our ability to place good stories about our clients doing great things in third-party publications (digital publications, TV, newspapers, etc.).  These individual successes are usually driven by an effective “pitch” to a journalist, or an editor, like the one below, which produced a quality story about a local Boy Scout in charge of feeding thousands of people over the summer.

The elements of a successful pitch are all here, and we’ve annotated them.  Take a look and think about your good news – and the heroes in your organization - and how those stories would be best presented in order to grab the (increasingly limited) attention of a reporter or blogger.

Here’s the pitch:

Subj:  10,000 Hamburgers, 1,200 Meat Loaves

Hi Ethan -- – Hope you’re enjoying the summer.  I’ve got a good story idea, with a local (1) hero (2), for you down at Rhode Island’s own (1) Camp Yawgoog, the second oldest Scout camp in the country, now in its 102nd season (3).
As it has for over a century (3), Camp Yawgoog is hosting Boy Scouts from all over the Northeast, and as far away as Florida (1)(4), this summer. This year more than 6,400 Scouts (3) will stay at Yawgoog from late June through August.
While the Scouts are there, over 200 counselors (3) on staff will teach classes in 40 merit badges (3)(5) including robotics, medicine, camping, small boat sailing, fishing, lifesaving and first aid.  Courses are also offered to adult leaders who would like to improve their skills in technology, basic leadership, CPR and more (5).   More than 200 Scouts (3) learn how to swim in Yawgoog Pond and over 250 boys will earn the Mile Swim Award (5).

During those eight weeks, they will consume more than 200,000 meals, which include (among other ingredients) 10,000+ gallons of milk, 25,000+ slices of pizza, almost 70,000 eggs, 41,440 meatballs, 40,960 apples and over 1,200 meatloaves (3!!).

Amazingly, the leadership for all of this is provided by Jon DiLuglio, a 20 year-old URI student (2)(4) from Scituate (1).

Outside of meal times, Scouts work toward their cooking merit badge, learning about food safety, menu planning, and food shopping and preparation.  Camp Yawgoog’s three dining halls are central to the Scout’s week at Camp. (4)
It would be great to have one of your journalists visit and do a story about one of Rhode Island’s legendary places, and I know your readers would really enjoy it (6).
If you would be interested in visiting or learning more, please let me know.


The Notes:
  1. For a pitch to a geography-based media outlet (as opposed to interest-based, etc.), highlighting a town, a region or a state is important. It helps answer the question “Why would my readers/viewers be interested in this?” 
  2. An old publisher of mine used to say “Names make news!” So do heroes, and 20-year old college students doing very big jobs.
  3. Noteworthy numbers make news too – particularly big ones, or…
  4. …Facts that are surprising in a “man bites dog” kind of way.
  5. The Boy Scouts are a great organization, which teaches its members an awful lot of things. Letting the reporter know about all the activities at camp gave the pitch a “Plan B” – if for some reason the original story didn’t work out, there’s still plenty of other things to cover, and write about.
  6. It’s important to close by summarizing the pitch, and asking specifically what you would like them to do.

In today’s dynamic media climate developing a successful pitch can be challenging. That’s why incorporating all of the elements above is critical to securing quality stories, and more of them. Knowing our clients, the media landscape and how to mine the interesting news nugget is how we deliver the “good news.”