Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Year, New Pitching Strategy

Happy New Year PR Pros! Toward the end of every year and continuing into the New Year, we start to prepare pitching calendars and media strategies for clients. We can probably all agree that it can be challenging coming up with fresh ideas vs. recycling old ideas from previous years. Scouring editorial calendars looking for a fit is always a great idea, but only pursuing planned coverage can be competitive and sometimes there isn’t an upcoming section that is a fit. That’s where creativity and persistence comes in. The New Year means new strategy, new media and a new way of thinking. Outlined below are a few ways to help spark fresh ideas, including a recent, successful example from one of our healthcare clients.

1.    Talk to your client: Ask your client what is going on at the office, what trends they see happening in the industry, what are their customers saying about them, etc. Use this information to form story ideas.

2.    Think outside the box: Most reporters are looking for a story that makes them turn their head. If you don’t think the story is interesting, they won’t either. If you think your idea might be a little too crazy, maybe it’s just right.

3.    Industry Read: Read industry magazines and websites. Reading and researching what industry trends are being highlighted can spark new ideas or at least tell you what’s already been done.

4.    Build new relationships: Research reporters who write about your client’s industry and send an introductory email. Ask if they are working on a story or if they have one planned in the future where they might be able to use your client as a source. The most important first steps to building a positive reporter relationship are research and outreach. After finding the correct reporter who covers your beat, reach out and introduce yourself and your client’s business.

For our New Year media strategy, we talked to our client to brainstorm new and fresh media ideas that would promote some of their service lines. During one of our regular update calls with client Centennial Medical Center in Frisco, Texas, we were informed one of its maternity patients was raving about how much she loved Centennial’s maternity wing and that she was about to have her second child there. To our surprise she was a local “celebrity,” the former Mrs. Texas United States 2011 and Mrs. Texas 2009, Melissa Pocza. With this new information we asked ourselves: How can we promote this without sounding too much like an advertisement? Our solution? A simple and fun advice Q&A with this local celeb that provided tips for moms as well as promoted Centennial’s maternity wing and exemplary maternity services.

The article “Tips from a Pageant Queen for First-Time Moms” answered questions about how to stay healthy while pregnant, how to dress comfortable and fabulous, what Pocza learned from her first pregnancy, and most importantly, why Centennial was the best place to have children. We focused on questions new moms might ask and weaved in a few questions about Centennial’s maternity services. This firsthand account from a local celeb and Frisco resident gave our story a strong local tie and interesting story angle, which yielded coverage on several local media outlet websites, social media sites and the nationally known Ragan’s Health Care Communications News and newsletter.
New ideas can be tough to come up with, but knowing where to start can be helpful. Good luck this year and we hope you have a successful and prosperous 2013.

This post was contributed by Kathrine Brody, @Kabrody


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