The Value Behind Personalized and “Strategic” Mass Pitching
By Sydney Stressman
Sending mass pitches gets some flack from reporters – and rightfully so. If not done correctly, sending mass pitches can come across as though the PR person behind the pitch didn’t do their research. As a PR professional, I find that when done the right way, mass pitching can be highly valuable. We should always send our pitches to a strategic list of reporters and publications who would find the information helpful and potentially write about the news or topic. For instance, if your edtech client is releasing new research, make sure you’re sending the pitch to education reporters, specifically those who cover research and data.
Personalized pitching has grown to become the preferred method by journalists. Still, everyone in PR knows there is a time and place for this pitching, especially since it can be very time-consuming. But, the effort tends to result in significant, in-depth coverage for the client and new or deeper relationships between reporters and PR pros.
Personalized Pitching: The Preferred Method by Reporters
Personalized pitching is when a pitch is created with a specific reporter in mind. It can be highly valuable as the reporter often prefers this method, considering the PR pro took time to research what the reporter often writes about. This tactic typically results in more responses because the reporters can tell the PR rep put time and effort into the pitch.
This type of pitching is typically used for embargoed or exclusive opportunities. An embargo is when one or more (but usually less than 10) reporters are given a heads up on an upcoming announcement and early access to deliverables, such as a press release, infographic, research report, etc. before it’s available to the public. Reporters are often fond of this type of outreach, considering they can ‘break the news’ before anyone else.
It is essential to spend some time learning about the reporter. Find out if they have any similar hobbies that can help jumpstart the conversation. For example: “Hi Stephanie, I saw your recent tweet that you are a Taylor Swift fan! Have you had any luck getting tickets to her upcoming tour? Fingers crossed! Anyway, I wanted to see if you’re interested in learning more about my client’s recent research on…” While this may seem like a casual start to the conversation, it humanizes you to reporters and lets them know that you know about them and have things in common.
Personalized pitching can also be an excellent tactic for relationship-building with key reporters. Another example: “Hi Mike, I wanted to check in with you as you have expressed interest in my client’s previous product announcement. Would you be interested in a 15-minute call with our Head of Product to show you the new features that will launch this summer? It would be an exclusive opportunity just for you.” This shows that you pay attention and keep tabs on prior conversations but value them and want to provide exclusive information to them.
Ultimately, personalized pitching results in quality coverage in your top publications and great connections with reporters. A win-win for you and your client!
Strategy is Key When It Comes To Mass Pitching
Mass pitching is often scrutinized as this method can be poorly executed and cause frustration from reporters. When it comes to mass pitching – there are two types: careless mass pitching and strategic mass pitching. Careless mass pitching is when a pitch is sent to a broad list of reporters without researching what the reporters write about or if they’re still at the publication. Usually, this frustrates reporters because it is clear that the PR rep didn’t give much thought to the pitch and its recipients. Once in a while, this type of pitching can result in coverage, but I wouldn’t count on it.
On the other hand, strategic mass pitching can be extremely useful as it allows PR pros to effectively send important, timely information to reporters. When done correctly, the PR rep will have selected a list of reporters who they are confident will find this information helpful and potentially want to interview the client. Reporters will still receive information relevant to their beat and likely appreciate being included on the email list.
Most importantly, strategic mass pitches need to be concise. While correspondence to a reporter should be to the point, this is especially true for strategic mass pitching. As PR pros, we are often told that reporters prefer the info they need upfront. Think about: Why is this important? Why should the reporter care? These emails usually aren’t the time or place to try and make a personal connection with the reporter. It is likely that you already have a relationship with the reporter, and they are expecting upcoming news on your client from you.
Ultimately, it is important to consider the pros and cons of personalized and mass pitching. Both have a time and place and, when used appropriately, can have great success.