Playing the Chameleon Card
During my short but illustrious career working in-house for a PR agency, I’ve had the pleasure of pitching story ideas to media on more than one occasion. What I can tell you is that the pitch changes every time.
The reason for this is the same as when you’re going to your girlfriend’s family dinner. Rather than be completely upfront, you need to tailor what you’re saying to the interests and expectations of your audience.
Instead of talking about the outlandish behaviour you got up to on Saturday night, you’ll play the conservative card and ask (your future mother or father in law?) about their golf game or if they prefer Malvern to Mont Albert. Well maybe you wouldn’t ask them about those things specifically – but you get my drift.
It’s the same when pitching to media – you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.
What I mean when I say this is: that if you’re pitching to a ‘mummy blogger’ website you don’t refer to the business around the product. Conversely, when pitching to business media you don’t refer to the practicality or love of the product.
For example let’s take the example of a client I worked for who we’ll call Pump. In general, Pump would prefer to be in the business pages of the paper. Hence when pitching their stories to journalists, I often use words like ‘finance’ and ‘annual turnover’. This works well as the journalists I’m speaking to know exactly what I’m talking about and often use the same language in their responses back to me.
Recently Pump asked me to speak to mummy bloggers and find out the stories they were interested in reading so we could reach out to them on Pump’s behalf. My colleagues often speak with these bloggers and gave me a fair bit of advice on what to say and who to speak with, but when it got down to the nitty gritty, I was the one who had to do the talking, so I loosened my tie and got dialling…
Well, let me tell you, it was a totally different experience speaking with the team at MumPedia in comparison to the presentations I’d adapted for AFR. Not once did they ask me for the annual turnover of Pump or what the likely sale cost was going to be! No, they were more concerned with what prizes they could offer their readers and how the product would help women feel beautiful.
In essence the editorial campaign was a success! I found out exactly what they were looking for and I changed my tone and message to match. As a result, I was able to a demonstrate the mutually beneficial relationship for mummy bloggers and their audiences by connecting them with Pump, and I learnt that different audiences have different notions of what’s valuable. I’ve also gained something myself, as I now know how important it is to find the right angle to make the right connections with different audiences who have different priorities.