Last Friday, two team members from Lewis Public Relations attended the PRSA Dallas Pitching Boot Camp with renowned speaker Michael Smart. While PRSA offers its members many options for professional development, we have to say this was one of the best so far. Michael Smart is a former journalist turned independent communications trainer. This wasn’t our team’s first interaction with Michael. While we choose to participate in a variety of professional development offerings, all of us have benefited from Michael's weekly emails, past conferences and webinars...and our latest encounter did not disappoint.
At the PRSA Dallas Pitching Boot Camp, participants ranged from university students studying public relations to seasoned media and high-level spokespeople from around the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Michael talked through the pitching basics, nuances of pitching today’s influencers, bloggers and overworked journalists, and the breakdown of your story. Without giving away the recipe to his secret sauce, we’d like to share some of the tried and true tips even the most tenured PR gurus can find useful.
Newsworthiness of the Pitch – Consider all aspects of your pitch.
What makes it relevant? Why now? Who should know about this? What side of the story can you tell to connect to your audience?
Targeted Outreach – Using mail merge? Survey says, “Don’t!”
Don’t waste your time or your media contact’s time unless it’s the right fit. Think about it: Journalists want to feel special, just like you and your clients. You’re more likely to make contact if you put some thought into who and why you are pitching.
Follow-up – Don’t be discouraged.
If you know it’s a good story, do make timely, appropriate follow-ups. If you don’t push for the coverage, who else will? During the Pitching Boot Camp, Michael also cautioned not to discredit the value of a cold call.
Most professional organizations offer a plethora of development training options throughout the year. While we don’t recommend signing up for every opportunity out there, it would behoove you to take note of what is offered. Investing in yourself directly correlates to your professional growth and client successes. Other LPR team members have made notable investments, such as pursuing Accreditation in Public Relations and earning an executive M.B.A. from University of Texas McCombs School of Business.
We recommend keeping an open mind and watching for worthwhile opportunities coming up, whether that means pursuing additional education or participating in seminars and conferences, especially if Michael Smart is headed to your area soon. Reading the quality content from respected industry professionals’ blogs can sometimes function as a quick way to receive condensed advice or tips on the latest how-to. We’ve curated a list of the best blogs for public relations and marketing here.
Do you have any suggestions on quality training or professional organizations? Comment below or engage with us on Twitter at @LPRDallas.
For more information on joining a Public Relations Society of America chapter, look here. For more information about Michael Smart, we encourage you to visit his website and be on the watch for his upcoming blog.