New Year, pitching

PR professionals, time your pitching!

5 January and the poorly-timed pitching is in full swing. Even in an age of instant publication, journalists will have planned roughly what’s in their schedule – outside the news – in advance.

Let’s put it another way: there is no point, repeat no point, in asking me if I’d like a round-up of technology predictions from your client for 2017 for New Statesman Tech, Professional Outsourcing or any of the other publications in which I am involved.

The reason is very simple. The beginning of the year was not a surprise. It’s been in the calendar for some time. I was therefore able to plan for it and ask people for considered round-up tips, if I wanted them, in early December or even before that.

Pitching Christmas in July

Journalists have a tradition of “Christmas in July”, by which we mean that the consumer goods companies wanting to publicise goods start to push them to is in the middle of the year. Many of them have special launch events at that time of year.

The tradition dates back to older publishing technologies, when in order to get into a monthly magazine’s Christmas pages you really needed to get into the planning for July so that they would finish the relevant section of the issue for (probably) September, go to press in October and come out in November.

It is now easy to shorten the timescale of course, but “think ahead” is never a bad mantra in Christmas. Here are some mistakes I still see:

  • People pitching 2016 round-ups – it’s 2017 now, guys, I’ve checked
  • People pitching 2017 forecasts as late as this morning. I want my readers to think I’m up to date, not trailing a few days behind everyone else!
  • People pitching Easter/chocolate stories in the week running up to Easter Sunday. First, it’s too late, second, I tend to write about business and technology rather than chocolate so have a think about where you’re pitching.
  • People linking their technology story to irrelevant items in the news. I appreciate that piggybacking a relevant story is probably a good idea, so “Startups are doing well in CES but my client has just got funding for her technical widget without leaving her sofa” is fine. The pitch I had roughly this time last year saying “David Bowie was a great original who always delivered. Software also has to deliver…” not so much.

A lot of it is common sense. Some of it is good taste. A handful of practitioners, however, don’t seem to have thought about how their target publications are produced – or they’re being measured by how much pitching they do and don’t actually care.

Do you need help with your pitching skills? I can help – call me on 07973 278780.

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