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The 3 Essential Skills of Public Relations (Part 3)

Monday, I laid out the three skills every PR person should have if they want to succeed:

  • Developing strategy
  • Writing
  • Pitching
In Monday's post, I talked about being a strategist. Yesterday, I talked about writing. Today, let's talk about pitching.

At first glance, pitching might appear to be the most tactical element of PR and not one of the three essential skills. But in fact, it is the most important. It's the "relations" part of "public relations."

For after you set your strategy and develop your materials, you have to venture out into the world and connect with other people to spread your message. And more often than not, that involves making a pitch.

Again, I find myself appalled by the poor pitching skills I observe in our industry. It's not for lack of trying -- lord knows that PR pitches are hurtling around the world at blazing speed every day. It's for lack of understanding the "relationship" part of pitching and PR.

Whenever you are pitching someone, whether it is to suggest that they do a story on your company or client or whether it is to get them to hire you or your agency, you must approach it from a relationship perspective. You have to ask yourself:

  • What do I have to offer this person?
  • What are their problems and what opportunities do they have, and how can I help them solve their problems and achieve their goals?
  • When and how would be the best way to connect with this person?
Notice, neither of the above involves "getting a hit," PR jargon for convincing a journalist to do a story on the subject you pitched them. That's what's in it for you if you do it right, but first you have to figure out what's in it for the person you are pitching. If you don't do that, 9 times of 10 your pitch will fail.

The key to figuring out the answers to the three bullet points above is getting out of your own head and your own problems and doing some research on your targets. Honestly, with the Internet this has never been easier, whether it's a journalist or blogger you are pitching or a business exec. And remember to use your ears to listen to the other person -- they will almost always tell you what they need if you give them a chance.

I'll leave you with this sage advice:

"God gave you two ears and one mouth. So listen twice as much as you talk."
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