An Inside Look at a Pitch Craft for Press Coverage Event

The value of an excellent pitch

As Nellie PR’s director, Ellen Carroll, points out, the true value of a well-crafted pitch isn’t just securing great press coverage – although, of course, that’s the goal.

It’s also about earning credibility, for yourself, and for the company you’re representing. Having the relevance of your story recognised by a third party, and getting it published, is a huge leg-up and builds reputation.

Pitch Craft for Press Coverage

Nellie PR has been running Pitch Craft for Press Coverage courses for more than two years now, led by our own director, Ellen Carroll. Ellen has over twenty years of experience pitching client news stories, and building journalistic relationships that last, and with the recent changes to the working lives of journalists, it’s more important than ever that we take heed of these skills.

The Pitch Craft for Press Coverage events seek to provide tips and advice to PR practitioners and people in business, from those looking to brush up their skills, to total newbies just starting out. The course helps build confidence, and offers an open platform to voice all pitching queries or concerns.

As of this week, Pitch Craft for Press Coverage has also helped to raise over £1000 for the HOMELESS IN TEIGNBRIDGE SUPPORT (H.I.T.S.) foodbank. Thanks to the generosity of the people who have attended the special donation-only webinar events.

What’s it like to attend a Pitch Craft for Press Coverage Event?

As Nellie PR’s intern, I was invited to come along (online) to the latest event to take part, get some insights, and of course, learn some new skills. It was enlightening to see the complicated process of pitching laid out in such an uncomplicated way, and Ellen’s experience really shone through.

For the sake of others who may be wondering about the specifics of crafting an effective pitch, or perhaps (like me) you’re unsure where to even begin, I thought I’d share some of my findings from the Pitch Craft for Press Coverage event.

8 Effective Pitching Tips:

  1. Remember your audience. No, not the person reading your pitch – your actual audience, as in the readers of the publication you’re pitching to. Take the time to match up your story to the right readership, research the publication, and be sure that you’re sending your pitch to a journalist who writes about the topic you’re covering.
  2. Don’t overlook opportunities. Credibility is built up over time, so don’t shy away from those smaller or local publications, particularly if you’re just starting out. Previous coverage looks great to journalists, so get your name out there wherever and whenever you can.
  3. Personalise your pitches. Just like the rest of us, journalists like to know that you care about their work. If you’re pitching to them because you’ve seen their recent coverage of a story, tell them. It will prove to them that you’ve done your research and that your pitch is relevant to them – meaning they’re more likely to pay attention to it. Remember though, they don’t want to be pitched about something they have already covered – so always offer a new angle or story.
  4. Tell the story. When pitching, remember to get the basics down. Don’t forget to tell the story, and if you get stuck, remember the 5 w’s: who, what, when, where, and why?
  5. Nail your hook. A gripping hook (or ‘peg’) is what captures the attention of journalists. It’s the thing that makes your story unique, relevant, and topical, such as interesting and independent research, a reaction to recent news, follow-up, or the promise of a case study. If you’re struggling to find ideas, tune into the media (be it radio, newspapers, or social media news channels), which are always chock-full of current news stories that you can put your own spin on.
  6. Research. This is a word which keeps coming up, but seriously, research. A simple google search should tell you how journalists like to be approached as well as what they don’t like.
  7. Use Twitter. Twitter is the home of all media personnel. It’s where you’ll be about to find them, follow them, engage with their content, and if you’re lucky, get your name noticed by them. If you don’t use Twitter, start today.
  8. Include a call to action! Try to end your pitch with a call to action. An active tone will get those journalists engaged and involved in the story, and most importantly, it will encourage them to take the next step to securing you coverage.

During the event, Ellen covered all these tips and more. Really – this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to crafting the perfect pitch. Other subjects we covered included: how to structure your pitch, mistakes to avoid, how to write a great subject line, and ways to search for opportunities.

If you want to learn more, and fancy honing your pitching skills, take a look at the Pitch Craft for Press Coverage course here (Media Pitching Training – Nellie PR).

A final reminder for Pitch Craft:

Remember, journalists, freelancers, bloggers, and the like need you as much as you need them. They need stories, they need ideas and content. If you’ve got a great story and something to say, want to say it and would benefit from some amazing press coverage (what business wouldn’t), be confident in your Pitch Craft for Press Coverage skills and go for it.

Tillie Holmes

Communications, PR and marketing intern at Nellie PR & Communications

Find me on: Web

How to Collect and Project Manage a Successful Research Project

As part of the CIPR South West virtual learning series, Joey Green and Anita Kershaw, from Censuswide research consultancy (link), hosted an event on how to collect and project manage a successful research project.

I went along to the virtual event and heard the wisdom they had to impart on planning, managing, and delivering a productive research project. Joey Green, the Creative Lead at Censuswide, has a prosperous background in PR, and so her insights were effectively structured towards members of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

As a PR novice myself, it really helped to clarify the daunting prospect of managing a research project, and so I wanted to would share an outline of what I learnt.

Here are the highlights from the event:

Coming up with your idea

First and foremost, how do you generate and develop ideas for your research project? How do you know what’s going to land with your audience.

  1. Research. Find out what people are talking about (places like Reddit are great for this). Browse all your favourite media channels for ideas and inspiration. Remember, good research gets people talking, but what people are talking about can also inform good research. It goes both ways!
  2. Figure out your headline. Don’t finalise your headline until your research is complete, but you should list ten or more ideas for headlines so that you’ve got a direction to head in.
  3. Don’t be too obvious. You want your research to surprise people, because that it what makes for good news stories, so always try to put a new spin on an old tale.
  4. Consider using a tried and tested formula. They’re popular for a reason, so don’t hesitate to use the formulas that have proven to work.

Decide upon a formula

The formula for your research is dependent on what best fits your topic, so consider it carefully against your project goals. You have several options here.

  1. Pinpointing specific numbers. Example – ‘Surveys show that over 1000 people think…’
  2. Highlighting ignorance of specific audience. Example – ‘1 in 5 people don’t know that…’
  3. Profiling people and highlighting differences. Example – ‘Men are five times more likely to…than women.’
  4. Human interest. Example – Explore people’s awareness of a topic, provide them further information, then ask for their opinion/ reaction.
  5. Hijacking news stories. Example – Using current news stories to inform or inspire research around a topic.

Constructing your questions

When it comes down to writing your survey questions, there are a lot of things to consider. However, there are some things you should always be doing:

  1. Know your desired outcome. Keep your top-line in mind and know what you want your back-up stats to be.
  2. Relevant. Ensure all your questions are relevant to the desired outcome.
  3. Avoid jargon. Be clear about what you’re asking and use language that all respondents will know.
  4. Avoid lengthy questions. Long, complicated questions will incur drop-outs from survey takers. Keep it simple and to-the-point.
  5. Provide a ‘nudge’. This can be a line underneath the optional answers which helps clarify challenging (or ‘vague’) questions.

‘Tick One’ verses ‘Tick All’

Which to choose? Well, there are pros and cons for both, but here are some basic tips that will help you decide:

On a whole, you’ll have a clear winner if you choose the ‘Tick One’ format.

BUT

If you want a specific answer to appear high in the stats, the ‘Tick All that apply’ format will make it far more likely that you’ll receive a higher percentage on that answer.

Who do you want to target?

This answer to this is entirely dependant on what you want your research to achieve, so consider the story and who it impacts. Generally, there are two target audiences: consumers or businesses (B2B).

You’ll want to divide your overall respondents into smaller categories when it comes to assessing the data, so include questions that will allow for ‘splits’. Common splits include: age, gender, region, and city.

Examples of consumer splits: relationship status, number of children, annual household income.

Examples of B2B splits: job title, company turnover, industry.

You can also slice and dice your research findings by geography, including region and nearest city.

Final takeaways

  1. Work backwards from your intended outcome. Always keep your goal in mind, but don’t be too rigid. Remember that the research comes first, and the results follow.
  2. Where possible, be bold. Bold stories sell, so whenever the opportunity to make a statement presents itself, seize it.
  3. Consider topical news hooks you can tie you research to. Keep an eye on the media and take inspiration from the conversations that are circulating. As with any story, a news hook is key to your research attracting interest.
  4. Put collaboration at the heart of your project. A research project centres around people, so keep them close wherever you can.

If you’re thinking about expanding your knowledge around research projects, or maybe managing your very first, CIPR have some great tips to share. You can find more at the CIPR website, where they run a full-day course on PR research management (link – Display event – Introduction to PR research (cipr.co.uk)).

Tillie Holmes

Communications, PR and marketing intern at Nellie PR & Communications

Find me on: Web

Nellie PR’s New Marketing and Communications Intern

Professional writing student joins the Nellie PR & Communications team

When it comes to the business of communication, there’s a lot to learn, and what better way to do this than learning on the job? That’s why Nellie PR adopts an intern every couple of years. They’re keen to find emerging talent and put them to good use, showing them the ropes of creating professional communication, and unforgettable PR and marketing strategies.

As this year’s intern, I thought I’d introduce myself. Hi, I’m Tillie Holmes.

Just as interns have done before me in days gone by, I’ve joined Nellie PR to explore my skills and learn many more. As a long-term student of creative writing, I’ve always been drawn to storytelling; through interviews, articles, and short fiction – you name it, I’ve tried my hand at it. And so, in my eyes, it makes perfect sense to dive head-first into a career in PR and business communications, where I can make a living telling other’s stories.

Fulfilling what some would say is the stereotype of a creative writer, I’ve worked for several years in the hospitality industry. I’m now a qualified professional in steaming milk, fetching tap water, and remembering coffee orders.

But thankfully, that’s not what I’ll be doing at Nellie PR. I hope to be delivering blog posts, developing business copy, and learning some much-needed social media skills. With this opportunity to learn, I’ll be expanding the business writing skills I’ve discovered this year at university, where I’m currently heading into my final term of an MA in professional writing.

When I said I was a long-term student of creative writing, I wasn’t kidding.

In the last six years, I’ve completed a degree in English with creative writing, as well as correspondence courses in copy-editing and proofreading. I’ve experienced the ‘graduate wasteland’ more than once, and can tell you that it’s no easier the second or third time around.

So, I’m grateful that this time, I’ll be donning that cap and gown with some real-life experience under my belt. And paid real-life experience at that, as Nellie PR is one of the rare employers who always pay their interns.

Really, what I’m most excited for is being given the chance to challenge myself. After a lockdown-infested year of shrinking comfort zones and waiting waiting waiting, I’m thrilled (and a little nervous) to be finding my footing again and seizing opportunities wherever they appear. Over the next year or so, I look forward to pushing myself, forming connections with clients and business partners, discovering their stories, and kick-starting a career in business communications.

Tillie Holmes

Communications, PR and marketing intern at Nellie PR & Communications

Find me on: Web