Webinar With Michael Smart: Seven Secrets of New Media Relations!
Media relations superstar Michael Smart is hosting a free Vocus webinar on better, faster media pitching next week. When we asked him for a guest post, he sent us the story of the pitch that ended up on TIME.com – with a little help from The Office’s Dwight Schrute.
Here’s the short version of how to use ruthlessly brief pitches and pop culture angles to land placements such as this one on TIME’s website, which was the second-most read story for several days.
I was working with a business school professor who coauthored a study about the advantages and disadvantages of working with people she called “socially distinct newcomers.” That’s a perfect, precise description of what she studied, so it’s absolutely the best way to explain the concept in her academic journal article.
But it’s obviously not very familiar language that would be useful in a pitch email subject line or in the lead of a news release.
So I tried to think of a word or phrase that would convey that concept in the shortest amount of words.
In my pitching webinars like the one I’m giving for Vocus this month, we talk about how finding a pop culture angle can boost your story’s chances of placement, so that was one way I approached this pitch. And then it hit me: the person who most embodies the phrase “socially distinct” is the character Dwight Schrute on NBC’s “The Office.” So I used him to deliver the most interesting finding of the study in brief, familiar language. Here was the subject line of my email:
Study: Embrace the Dwight Schrutes in your ‘office’ for better performance
There’s an obvious risk with this approach – that a target journalist won’t be familiar with Dwight. But it was a risk I chose to accept because of the added zing that this angle brought with it.
So far, so good. Today the Toronto Globe and Mail ran a piece about the study under the headline: “Perhaps every office needs a Dwight Schrute.”
As I write this, it’s one of the most popular stories on their site.
Media loved the excuse to put a photo of Dwight on their sites. The HR and management trades also picked it up.
1. Ruthlessly trim your pitches to make them as short as possible.
2. Among other possibilities, consider an image or concept made familiar through pop culture to make your pitch stand out.
There’s more where that came from: click here to register for Michael Smart’s webinar on Wednesday!
A version of this post originally appeared on PRSA’s ComPRehension blog.
Image: tofslie, Creative Commons
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