As most entrepreneurs know, a great marketing strategy includes organic promotion -- the type of promotion that costs the company nothing. This typically happens through getting other people to talk about your brand, or word-of-mouth marketing.
Organic marketing is free in the sense that you do not pay people to talk about you and your company (if you pay, it is called advertising). It can also be dangerous, because you are unable to control the message or narrative.
One form of this strategy comes by having your company written about by publications, bloggers or other influencers online. While some of these "placements" can cost you (bloggers will often require a fee or at least free product as a trial), most respected writers and content providers (including Inc.) completely prohibit compensation of any kind from companies. This keeps our columns real and unbiased.
So if you are not paying, how do you get publishers to notice you? Personally I seek out stories that "MOVE," or those that are meaningful to the readers, original in content, valuable in terms of tips and resources, and entertaining.
To understand what other writers seek, I spoke with Jered Martin, Co-Founder of OnePitch, a platform formed by tech-savvy professionals and journalists as a way to sort through pitches. OnePitch has been using data generated by thousands of journalists and contributors to develop the top characteristics of the best pitches.
Why did you decide to start OnePitch?
JM: My Co-Founder, Rebecca Bamberger, is the brains behind the idea. She presented the problem in a very clear way: the public relations (PR) industry is broken and the software isn't effective in driving results.
Rebecca's background as a publicist, journalist, and agency owner has provided her with a lot of experiences using current tools as well as interacting with and understanding the need of both entrepreneurs and publishers. She was easily able to see that innovation, and particularly data-driven tools, was needed to enhance the process related to media relations.
What are the most appealing and sought-after aspects of a pitch for journalists and contributors?
JM: It all starts with the "subject line." Nine times out of 10, I hear journalists tell me that if the subject is not clear, concise and explanatory, chances are they will not read the rest of the pitch. One of our customers actually said that he spends at most five seconds reading over a pitch, so if the subject line is confusing or uninspiring, the rest of your pitch may never even be seen.
Second is the quality of the pitch itself. We see a lot of companies submit pitches about their CEO or high-level manager who can speak about XYZ, but they are promotional in nature and not particularly valuable. The pitches that get the most traction are tied to a current news event, which garners an immediate quote or conversation.
Third most important are that pitches have the data, numbers, and metrics to support the story. This helps provide some validation for covering a story and as well as a "visual" for why readers should care.
What are the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make when pitching stories?
JM: As I mentioned, we constantly see entrepreneurs, and even PR professionals, pitching stories that are not news quality. The pitches only scratch the surface of something much bigger and more important. Journalists want to write and know about about what makes the entrepreneur and their company unique? What activities are they engaging in that are so innovative and different that it is creating a competitive advantage that others can learn about?
I personally think we all have unique stories to tell in some way shape or form, but we have to take the time to reflect on our experience and really dive into what makes us, as individuals or companies, unique and different.