"How Does Your Garden Grow?"
In PR and media relations, there's a term called "Spray and Pray". This is where a pitch is sent out to countless media outlets and you hope it gets picked up.
As a producer I received this type of pitch a lot and rarely responded (FYI, TV shows have viewers, not readers). It's an approach many are moving away from, but some go too far in the other direction. If you put all of your hopes in one idea or one pitch, you're not going to get great results either.
From a numbers standpoint. the broader your outreach, the better your odds that someone, somewhere will pick it up. Also, if you put all of your efforts into one pitch, you run the risk of gripping. Think of a fistful of sand. Ifyou hold it loosely, you'll hold a lot of sand. But as you tighten your grip, you'll lose sand through your fingers.
If you grip on to your one pitch, you run the risk of smothering this idea. Even seasoned professionals fall prey to this. Recently I was talking to one of my consultants who was sliding down the gripping spiral.
She wanted to follow up on a pitch one week after sending it - even though we advise our Media Mentor clients to pitch once a month.
She had planted a seed, she said, and wanted to make sure it would grow into something. Fair, and I totally understand where she's coming from.
But that's not how seeds work.
In gardening, you don't plant one seed and expect it to turn into a bumper crop. In fact, if you look at a seed packet, there are hundreds of seeds going into the same path of soil. Not all at those seeds will take. No matter how much care you put into the garden, only a few seeds out of hundreds will grow. And only if the exact conditions are met. And these conditions change every year.
You need to know when to keep watch, and when to let the seeds do their thing. In either case, you start with more seeds than you actually expect to harvest.
Here's our approach to fruitful seeding when pitching:
#1: Get clear on your idea. If you try to be too broad, it will be too challenging for people to understand your pitch. Get clear and specific on what you want to say.
#2: Pitch by category. If you write a pitch with a particular morning show in, mind, send it to every morning show you can think of. An idea that works on The Today show will also work on Good Morning America. Not every pitch needs to be tailored to a specific program. Understand the format at the showand send the same idea to other shows that follow the same format. Be flexible on presentation and highlight your story and idea.
#3: Tweak your focus. If your idea for morning TV also has a news hook, change your intro and pitch it to news - especially 24-hour news stations that need to book compelling guests throughout the day. Sometimes a simple tweak in tone can open up a whole new set of possibilities.
When you find yourself in the waiting game, resist the urge to follow up as your first action step. Instead, ask yourself "what else can I do?" and do thatinstead. You may come up with a new idea or angle, which is always my preferred way of checking in on pitcher. Show your value as an expert by offering up great ideas on a regular basis. Over time those efforts will grow into a media relationship you can harvest on a regular basis.