You’ve heard time and time again that you need to create compelling, storytelling content. But how do you handle pitching dry content, such as highly technical or scientific studies? How do you share the same content with different communities?
Enter the art of crafting the pitch angle. Adding these ideas and best practices to your pitching routine can help expand your outreach horizons and improve your response rates–even with the driest of content.
Who’s interested, and why?
Statistics and in-depth research can help you learn what content to create, but nothing beats a good old-fashioned brainstorming session when it comes to promotion. Would multiple markets be interested in what you have to say? You may find that a certain piece of content has the capability to be interesting to both engineers and weekend DIY-ers.
Going back to basics and searching for your key phrases and topics using Twitter’s advanced search may help you identify who’s talking about what you want to share, and what they’re saying about those topics. Engage in human conversations about the content you create, and ask people in different roles around your organization to tell you what they like about it and if they have questions about it. You’ll be surprised at the angles you can discover just by having a five-minute conversation with someone who doesn’t work in your department.
Examples of basic angles
There’s no template for creating an epic angle every time, but much like writing blog posts, there are a few go-to’s that can help get you started.
- Riding on the coattails of a trend. Pick a trend to which you can tie your product, service or content. What your pitching target interested in right now? Research what they’ve published recently to find any common threads you can capture their attention with. Is there a new celebrity meltdown, or a movie box-office hit that works as a metaphor that will be well-received? Go for it.
- Focus on behind the scenes. Is there an interesting story about how the company or product came to be? Rather than focus on the “what,” consider the “who” or the “how” to add to the impact of the story. Remember, people like stories, not just dull press releases.
- Use the pitch to answer a question–or to ask one. Statements can often get boring, so find a way to use what you’re pitching to ask or answer questions that have been on the writer’s mind. Check out what their followers are asking on Twitter and Facebook, or use Quora to find interesting discussions. Don’t be afraid to challenge something they’ve discussed (politely, and within reason). A little well-placed conflict can really spark someone’s interest.
Best practices for consistently effective pitching angles
You can’t just sit around expecting great ideas to strike you at any moment. You have to control your inputs in order for your outputs to succeed. If you eat Cheetos all day and expect to run a record-breaking 5K in the evening, you probably won’t succeed. Same thing goes for our minds: take in the good stuff, keep out the less useful information (ahem, Facebook stalking and all-day BuzzFeed binges).
- Keep up on daily news, trends, and future predictions. This could make or break your pitch. Remember the Entenmann’s hashtag misstep? Don’t make the mistake of trying to be relevant without fully understanding what you’re getting into. If this gets overwhelming, set up Google Alerts, create must-read Twitter lists, or make a Feedly reading list to keep everything in line without overwhelming yourself.
- Designate a study time. This is different from keeping up on the day-to-day news. Take time each day or week to study something within your industry or a related one and, more importantly, schedule time to reflect upon it. How can you apply these ideas to your work or to your current clients? Do any new techniques or strategies that come to mind while reading?
- Switch to fiction. If you’re trying to tell better stories, read better stories. Don’t be afraid to step outside your world to explore other universes – it may sound a bit trite, but by stretching your imagination outside of reality, you’ll be more prepared to tackle the real tasks at hand. Do yourself and your clients a favor by taking a break from nonfiction every once in a while.
- Step away from the pitch with your hands up. Get out of the office. Let the pitch sit while you work on another client, or do routine housekeeping tasks. Sleep on it. If you’re targeting a high-profile journalist, any sloppiness or irrelevance is unacceptable, so be sure you’ve got it right. It may be a good idea to write several pitches for one person, all from a different angle, and share them with colleagues to help you pick the most appropriate one.
Ultimately, the best way to create better angles is to practice thinking beyond the obvious. You’ll start to realize that your audience is larger, your team is more engaged with the process, and that the recipients of your pitches are more interested in the story you have to share.
Which tools and practices do your team use to keep your outreach fresh?
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