After more than a decade in the New York City public relations world, Amanda Berlin now uses her pitch powers for good. She helps entrepreneurs pitch themselves to the media and get coverage that grows their businesses. Amanda is the creator of the Pitch School. She serves as a mentor of a course that teaches entrepreneurs how to become a publicist of their own brands and pitch interviews, guest posts, and product placements. Amanda has also a The Pitch Podcast where she strategizes with entrepreneurs on their next media pitch.
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In this episode you’ll learn:
- How to craft the perfect PR pitch
- How to position yourself to show you’re unique
- When and how to follow up
Tell us a little bit about you, Amanda Berlin, and what you do.
I spent a decade working in the New York City public relations. Pitching pharmaceutical companies to the media gave me a lot of clients that do us all good and all bad. It made me feel like I was losing my integrity by promoting the latter so I was getting disenchanted by the work. I was doing a lot of self-improvement work around that time so I decided to leave communications behind entirely and move into the direction of becoming a life coach. That was a big mistake – my mentality to leave my skillset behind. An intrinsic skill in developing a business is how you are going to get the word out so I had this epiphany when I was doing some communications consulting. I realized that I was more enthusiastic about that than I was about life coaching when I was doing it for the right person and company. I was working in a non profit company, and it was my big “Aha” moment. I love communications work, and I was doing it in a non-profit company that I believed in. I also realized that there were people out there with virgining businesses. They had no clue how to get their name out there and were really intimidated by pitching the media in particular. That was my bread and butter. That is what I did day in and day out. I realized that I could help them. That’s how I landed with what I’m doing today and I’m super enthusiastic about it. That’s a big take away for a lot of people, that when you find the thing that makes you enthusiastic, you don’t need to run it by the moral barometer. If you’re enthusiastic about it, then it’s good enough. This is your thing, your zone of genius.
My audience is primarily food bloggers and women food entrepreneurs. What advice do you have for them to figure out to stand apart?
First of all, it’s really good to have a niche like food because there are so many media outlets that are looking for this type of content. Go back to the story, ask questions like, “How did this recipe come about?”, “Where do they come from?”, “How you conceive of this?”, “What is the story behind it that can differentiate this recipe from the next one?”. I don’t know if the outlet that you’re pitching is necessarily interested in the story but maybe there’s a way to weave that into the content of the recipe in some way.
The other piece of advice is for you to know what the outlets’ requirements are. Once you understand the specific requirement of the outlet that you’re pitching, then you can customize it in a way that it speaks directly to the content that the outlet provides.
Where can bloggers or anyone listening find places to submit and pitch their work to?
I actually have an article on my site on how to find outlets. One of my favorite ways is by looking at the websites of the people you admire. I call it stalker idols and you can see where they placed their materials in the past. That gives you a lot of clues because outlet takes guests submissions. It’s really a big step forward in terms of understanding the outlets. You can see what kind of submissions they accept. You would know that they are interested in the specific genre. That’s my primary way of finding out. It’s like sleuthing to find outlets that you might be interested in contributing to. Another thing is, look at the outlets that you read regularly. I know that some of us think that we are not that big enough to be in that. My advice for this is that the good idea will always win. If it’s a good idea that is something innovative then it does not matter whether how big or small you may be.
Do you follow up after pitching or just walk away?
Yes, there is a follow up. The mentality that I come to follow up with is be of service so that you won’t feel you’re begging for the opportunity. The worst way to feel is when you are seating at your desk, sending off that pitch and you refresh and refresh. To start getting rid of a pitch, start making another pitch. Once you have completed a pitch and sent it off, start developing your new idea because that will be a part of your follow up. In writing your new follow up, you say, “Here’s another article or here’s the new research I found that corroborates my idea; here’s another piece that you ran which I love and coincides with the pitch that I have given you.” You are continuing the conversation even though you didn’t hear anything back yet. If they come back and say, “The pitch is not right for us,” take a minute and don’t feel upset. It just means that it is not right for them now, and you can take it somewhere else. You need to come back to them. It’s great that they responded at least. We need to view that as a win because if your idea was really off the mark, then they would have not paid any attention to it. You can do two things when they write back a negative response: 1) You can come back with a question such as “Thank you so much that you wrote back to me. I really want to provide you with useful contents in the future. Can you let me know what kind of ideas you are looking for and the kind of pitches you accept?” This question is very good because you’re honoring their process and respecting their expertise. 2) You can take follow up ideas that you came up with and fire back with that, “Thank you so much for getting back to me. I totally understand. Just let me know if this is of interest,” and then put your new idea. It’s better to ask for feedback first because you get to tweak your second idea according to the feedback. Doing this will give them impression that you’re determined and shows your desire to be in the publication and you are not cowering in the face of rejection. That kind of attitude gets us places in life and in media.
Amanda Berlin spent more than a decade as a pitch-writer for some of the world’s largest consumer brands. Now, she uses her powers for good. Amanda is dedicated to helping you communicate to connect, heart and soul, with your prospective clients.
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