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TODD SMITH — Pitch Perfect: shape your news hook, message to resonate



Communications in today’s fast-paced, digital society moves at lightning speed – and so do PR practitioners and brand champs. To make your media pitches stand out and deliver results, it’s crucial to take the time that you need to research and create the best content, write an effective pitch, research a thoughtful target media list and customize your outreach.

One key element of a successful media relations campaign is planning as far ahead as possible, and educating your colleagues and clients on which strategies and content will receive the most media coverage — and why. It’s the essence of strategic planning, developing action-oriented goals, objectives, strategies and tactics.

If your client can’t tell you why something is newsworthy and timely, then you won’t be able to explain it to journalists.

From The Spin Surgeon’s perspective, the media are your ultimate clients – and if you lose credibility through bad pitches, then you can’t be effective. Strong media relationships are more important than any one story.

If you ever get an assignment that seems impossible, then you must be ready to say “no!”

So how do you do that?

When you start creating pitch content, always think like a reporter – and not necessarily like your client. Clients have information that they want to convey, and it’s your job to say, “OK, but what will reporters really care about?”

Remember to focus on quality over quantity when pitching. It’s best to customize content in a separate pitch for each reporter you’re targeting. This approach will generate the strongest coverage and foster the best long-term relationships. Also, look on the reporter’s Twitter feed first to make sure that they are not on deadline on a breaking story, at a conference or on vacation.

Take ample time to research your media list. Creating a good media list should be guided by senior level brand executives. Before you pitch your contacts, get to know their interests through their media profiles, websites, LinkedIn profiles and Twitter feeds.

Never ever blast out a mass pitch and BCC more than one journalist at a time.

It’s better to research and pitch five reporters thoughtfully – through a phone call, an email or a social media message – and have three of them say yes, than to pitch 100 and get one response. Media relations done well is hard work that often takes time both with the client and with the media.

With all of this in mind, here are five tips for pitching according to the Public Relations Society of America:

1. Be familiar with what journalists write and what they’ve covered recently. That’s a given — whether it’s obvious in the pitch itself or whether you spell it out — and that research will help make sure that you don’t pitch them a story that they’ve already written.

2. Keep emails as short as possible. As long as you tell reporters what the news actually is, you can add more details and photos later. Some reporters won’t open anything with attachments, so don’t send them in your first email.

3. Consider your timing. Give a reporter as much lead time as possible, make sure you have a timely news hook and make sure that you’re catching them at a good time of day. If you’re making an announcement on a certain date, then plan to reach out several weeks ahead of that date to let them know.

4. Reporters like to write about people. If you don’t have a human-interest story to share, then go find one. These are the best stories, period. Every audience can connect with what people go through, how they handled mistakes and ways they persevered – and were better because of it

5. Sum it all up in a compelling headline. Reporters receive hundreds — if not thousands — of emails each day, so catch their attention by summing up the whole story in the headline and personalizing it.

Google Makes Big Analytics Play

In an effort to help companies understand and act upon the diverse streams of data flowing from websites and devices, Google has unified its digital marketing services into a set of six applications.

The company has introduced Google Analytics 360 Suite, a combination of data analytics products for enterprise marketers.

With the acceleration of online interactions, marketers need to understand customer intent and deliver value immediately, Paul Muret, VP of analytics, display, and video products at Google, said recently in an interview with Inc.

Four of Google’s six offerings are new products:

1. Google Audience Center 360 (beta) is a data management platform that helps marketers understand their customers and find similar customers across various marketing channels, devices, and ad campaigns. It is integrated with AdWords and DoubleClick, as well as third party data providers.

2. Google Optimize 360 (beta) is a service for website testing and personalization. It allows marketers to test different versions of their website for different customers.

3. Google Data Studio 360 (beta) offers a data visualization dashboard for the other 360 Suite products. It includes collaboration and sharing capabilities similar to Google Docs.

“Data Studio 360 is an open collaboration and data visualization layer to help organizations pull data from all over and have a simple interface for analysis and visualization,” said Muret. Pointing to the service’s sharing and collaboration capabilities, he added, “in too many organizations, people are still sending around spreadsheets.”

4. Google Tag Manager 360 helps marketers oversee and understand their tags, the tracking pixels or code inserted into Web pages to record usage.

The remaining two products are rebranded updates of existing services.

Google Analytics 360 used to be called Google Analytics Premium. It offers measurements of customer data from websites and ad campaigns. It tracks data like landing page performance, conversion goals, traffic sources, and related statistics.

Google Attribution 360, formerly known as Adometry, provides online ad attribution, which attempts to identify when an ad has prompted a specific action like a purchase or a click. It also can help limit ad fraud.

Digital Ad Spending Poised To Take Over TV By 2017

ZenithOptimedia has reduced its forecast for global and U.S. advertising spending for 2016, citing weaker print media trends.

U.S. ad spending will rise 3.7 percent this year, it projected, down from its December prediction for 3.9 percent growth. The media buyer mentioned that newspaper and magazine ad declines were more pronounced than it had previously expected. That will be followed by U.S. growth of 2.8 percent in 2017 and 3.1 percent in 2018, according to the forecast.

ZenithOptimedia now projects global advertising to increase 4.6 percent to $579 billion in 2016, down from 4.7 percent in its December forecast, and hit $603 billion in 2017. The projected growth is stronger than that seen in 2015 though when global ad spend rose 3.9 percent. Excluding boosts from special events, mainly the U.S. presidential elections that are expected to add about $3.2 billion in spending and the Summer Olympics’ estimated $2 billion boost, but also the Euro Cup soccer tournament that is expected to add $900 million, the global ad market will increase 3.5 percent in 2016, according to the forecast.

Zenith also said that it now expects digital advertising to overtake TV as the biggest ad category globally in 2017, a year earlier than it had previously projected and in line with a December forecast from Magna Global.

Bolden Mic | Starbucks Brews Up Strong Food Donation Program

Starbucks wants to donate all of its leftover food to the hungry.

The company said recently that it hopes to contribute “100 percent” of its leftover food from its 7,000-plus U.S. locations by this time next year thanks in part to a new partnership with Feeding America, which has a national network of food banks.

The idea was brewed-up from its baristas who have their fingers on the pulse of a caffeinated – er, alert – public.

Donating surplus food is not a new idea. Chipotle (CMG), Cheesecake Factory (CAKE), Yum! Brands (YUM)’ KFC and Taco Bell, and Darden’s (DRI) Olive Garden already do it. Even Starbucks has donated unsold pastries to the Food Donation Connection since 2010.

Starbucks plans to have given out 5 million meals – Including breakfast sandwiches, paninis and salads – by the end of 2016. The company has invested in research to determine the best way to ensure food stays safe until it is consumed. For that, Starbucks gets a Bolden Mic!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


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