Pitching Strategies to Capture Media Attention: Q&A with Media Survey’s Sam Whitmore
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Text 100’s San Francisco office had the pleasure of welcoming Media Survey’s Sam Whitmore to the office a few weeks ago. While there, Sam shared details of his “Bucket List” that was created after a series of interviews with journalists from top publications such as BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal and Fortune, about what types of pitches and storylines are most likely to capture their attention.
Account Coordinator Smita Schworer was able to sit down with Sam for a few minutes to talk through the origins of the Bucket List and some of his findings, as well as two components of The Bucket List: demystification of trends and “Rugged Individualist” profile stories.
Smita Schworer: How did The Bucket List come to be?
Sam Whitmore: “The Bucket List” is our way of capturing the storytelling themes that most often recur in the big media-brand titles.
SS: You mentioned in your training that pitching is very formula driven, can you expand on that?
SW: Sometimes a movie or book is considered to be “formulaic” if its nature and outcomes are predictable. So it is with journalistic narratives, where the editors seek a specific goal and know how to achieve it. This is good news for PR pros: if they can identify the elements, they can use them to construct “modular” stories of their own.
SS: Making a very technical product launch appeal to the masses is the norm at Text 100. Can you share a few examples of how PR professionals can use demystification when pitching a tech-heavy story out?
SW: Many PR pros see the “demystification” story type as the “explainer.” Good documentation is an “explainer” too… but few would pitch an editor documentation. To demystify a topic or trend is to paint the future: behind these new buzzwords and players is a new market which (a) stands to disrupt existing markets and (b) will bring about new winners – companies and the executives who run them.
SS: We would all love to get our executives more positive publicity. How do you effectively paint the picture of a “rugged individualist” without having them come across as self-absorbed?
SW: It’s true that most executives would rather promote their team than take credit themselves. How do you profile such a person? Brainstorm a “360-degree review” the way HR does. Imagine HR-style interviews with subordinates, investors, competitors, frenemies… and then picture a word cloud with all the transcripts. What would the five most prominent words be? If you have an angle, it will be in those five words.
For more information on the Sam Whitmore Media Survey, visit www.mediasurvey.com.