Media Relations Hack #2:
Apply Triple-Layer Customization Up and Down Your Media List
First of all, understand that starting off your pitch with a compliment is no longer a smart idea. It will work against you. If you get nothing else from this document except that, you’ll be far ahead of the game.
So when I refer to “customizing” your pitch, that’s one technique you can scratch off your list.
I’ve made a name for myself in the media relations industry teaching people how to customize pitches instead of just blasting mass emails all over the world. I’ve been lobbying for the end of the “spray and pray” approach to earning media coverage ever since early in my own career when I proved to myself it was a dead end.
But now that I’m assured you’re going to responsibly focus most of your time and energy on that key top 20 percent, I can share with you the “hack” that will allow you to “bend time” and get better results even on the rest of bulk of your list that doesn’t justify individual customization.
I’ve found an even better way to approach things than to simply work hard to customize each pitch. My approach actually involves the smart use of email templates and something I call the “customization triad.”
There are basically three levels of customization:
Level 1: Proper, sincere, well-researched individualized pitches for your top 20 percent, as discussed above.
“Dear Janet, I’ve noticed you’ve pivoted from tracking big tech companies’ mom-friendly workplace policies to focusing more on what startups are doing to retain top talent after maternity leave . . .”
Level 2: For the next 30 percent or so, so you’re covering the top half of your list to this point, you broaden out enough to cover the beat that you’re targeting, but you eschew the vague fake compliment (“I love your tech coverage!”) that plagues today’s pitches and replace it instead with an assertive declaration of relevance.
“Dear [First Name], I know you cover workplace issues faced by new moms . . .”
That statement is going to be true for pretty much any workplace or careers reporter, unless they’re at a men’s magazine. You can do the same with most beats.
Level 3: For the parts of your list that are either super-low hanging fruit or not significant enough to justify much time, then you omit customization wholesale and simply dive straight into your news. You don’t even risk something vague like, “Since you cover HR . . .” in case your information is wrong.
“Dear [First Name], Tomorrow we’re going to announce . . .”
The bottom line is this:
You don’t use the same tool for every job. When you choose the right tool for the right situation, your results grow with less effort. Are you beginning to see how this works?
The secret is that you actually have to think. This is something most people are not trained to do. And that means, if you focus on developing your ability to think strategically, you will have an enormous advantage.