Blogs  / June 14, 2013

Why does pitching the press feel like walking Captain Hook’s plank?

by Rebekah Iliff

Two weeks ago, Sharam spoke on a panel (“How to pitch the press” moderated by Robert Scoble) with a handful of journalists at the Startup Conference in Silicon Valley. Now, don’t ask me how he managed to get himself on a panel with journalists when he is not, in fact, a journalist. However, I have watched him do a handful of super-hero-ish things as an entrepreneur, so I suppose this should not have come as a complete surprise. Exhibit A:

"How to pitch the press" aka Sharam crashes a panel

“How to pitch the press” aka Sharam crashes a panel of journalists
During this panel, I jotted down what I typically call “notable and quotable” information, which I will share with you here:

Press releases go directly to a folder that never gets read. I’m already at about 7k this week.”  -Robert Scoble, Rackspace/Blogger

“I make my decision [about what I read] in 1/10 of a second. Don’t misspell my name, don’t send attachments; we are dying for good content…so don’t give me a press release give me a great piece of content that doesn’t sound like a sales pitch.”  – Eric Wesoff, Greentech Media (Editor in Chief)

“Sometimes the story just isn’t a fit. Entrepreneurs are strategic when it comes to business but not when it comes to PR.” – Mike Cassidy, San Jose Mercury News’ Silicon Beat Blog (Columnist)

“Figure out what your mission and your purpose is and boil it down to what you could tell someone casually over breakfast.”  -Patrick Hoge, San Francisco Business Times (Tech Reporter)

“I’m trying to get to the gems of truth within a press release…get rid of all the superfluous info.”  AND “Help me to reach more people, I want to get read; give me something tantalizing and interesting. As far as opening your email, if you can leverage someone you know for referral or intro I’m more likely to open it.”  – Josh Moss, Upstart Business Journal (Editor)

And my personal favorite, again by Mr. Scoble: “Every company should have a blog.”

Yes, Robert, yes they should.

BONUS: these are the Top 10 Headline or Email Subject words they spouted off as most likely to grab their attention:

1. Zombie

2. Elon Musk

3. Loved your last article

4. Porn

5. Sex

6. Drugs

7. Celebrity

8. Money

9. Better than Google Glass

10. This is exclusive

I will not ask you to guess which ones were Sharam’s. Remember, he is not a journalist. So be kind to him.

The truth about pitching the press…

In my personal experience, pitching the press is about as fun as walking the plank of Captain Hook’s ship into shark infested waters. #NOFUN. #IMMINENTDEATH.

Not only do you become impervious to rejection – which mostly comes in the form of the silent treatment – but you also start wondering what the hell you’re doing wrong.

If you’re terrible at PR, then the answer is everything. If you’re great at PR, the answer is everything. That’s the short answer as to why there are still terrible PR people.

The problem: there is no silver bullet when it comes to what will work and what won’t. There is no bullseye. Insert any other analogy that means you can’t ever get it exactly right. What you DO have to do is keep being creative, keep listening, keep putting out a great product with thoughtful content to support it.

Oh, and say smart things.

To get even further down the rabbit hole of the “how to pitch the press” discussion, I turned to a reporter friend who works for a gigantic news organization of which everyone knows, but I cannot name. But if I told you, you would be really impressed.

Next week he will share with us the Top 5 things that bug him, and basically what NOT to do. Remember, he is a VERY important reporter for a VERY important publication.

SHAMELESS PLUG: By the way, we opened our Marketplace to the public this week. Here’s The Next Web article about it, and we have some more good stuff coming out over the next couple of weeks.

Stay tuned…and keep creating! Great products, great content, great pitches, great relationships. All of it.

We’re all on this ship together. The plank-less variety.

#teamOnclusive feeling excited but also very serious about our launch

#teamOnclusive feeling excited but also very serious about our launch