The power of a story placed in the New York Times, Reader’s Digest or Good Morning America is often so huge it cannot be measured in its entirety. While this has always been the case, the difficulty in placing stories in these highly coveted media outlets has most certainly changed. We recognize this at Schwartz MSL and put a great deal of time and energy in training our staff to become master storytellers capable of producing quality media placements for our clients. During our internal June healthcare practice meeting, I led a discussion about the “art of pitching.” It was a thoughtful, interactive session with commentary from both veteran pitchers and those working hard to figure out the pitching style that works best for them.
An interesting point of discussion was the critical best practice of sharing personal information about reporters with our clients in preparation for in-person or phone interviews. For example, hobbies or background about where the reporter grew up or went to school, can help tremendously in enabling clients to better forge relationships with reporters based on real, human connections. Lloyd Benson, an executive vice president at Schwartz MSL, recounted an instance when his client and an influential reporter bonded for a half hour over similar childhood experiences as they were both from the same small town in Washington State. An outstanding feature story grew out of this very personal connection.
For instance, just this past week one of my teams was preparing a briefing page for a client interview with a top business press outlet. I channeled the discussion from the healthcare practice meeting and suggested we do the following: search for information about the reporter via social media. We searched LinkedIn, Twitter as well as “googled” the reporter’s name to see what we could uncover about this journalist. We found a few great nuggets to include in the briefing page, helping to set the stage for my client to find a similarity with the reporter and create the opportunity for a personal connection. We also offered personal information about the client when confirming the briefing with the reporter. We sent his picture, business bio as well as some nuggets about his personal interests, hobbies and passions. We found this to be an effective tool to setting the tone with the reporter that our client, on top of being the CEO of one of the most exciting healthcare technology companies in the world, may have interests that may coincide with hers.
It’s pretty awesome when something you learn or are reminded of during a training session can be applied so quickly and easily. Our commitment to training and learning is hands-down a large reason all members of Schwartz MSL account teams are able to deliver business-impacting results for clients.
So here I am at the end of my post realizing I have not provided any feedback or tips about researching reporters or what to say when you finally get the reporter you have been stalking on the phone, all items covered in the June healthcare practice meeting. I’ll discuss these topics and more in my next post. Until then, happy pitching!
Posted by Lauren Arnold on July 5, 2012 at 1:05 PM