I went to school to be a PR person. I remember going to class to practice writing press releases, pitch emails and phone etiquette – the teacher preaching that the best practice was by trial and error. Finding your stride, your personal pace (style, pizazz, sass, whatever) and absolutely owning it.
Fast forward a few years. I got a full time PR job, in an industry I was not familiar with, pitching a product I knew nothing about. I was assigned a PR team, wonderful people who would do my pitching for me – writing the releases and contacting press. My role? Confirming the messaging was on target, aligned with our brand, and true to our product. I loved them, they rocked.
Then a few months later, it was back to just me. My PR team was gone and I felt a little disoriented. I was nervous and intimidated. Looking for guidance, I started reaching out to people I met through social media. Those working in the same space as me - Gaming PR. People who had it on lock. They understood gamers, the industry, and how to grab the attention of the largest tech and gaming publications. I dived in. Immersing myself in the culture, following the advice of my mentors, and doing some of my own research. Don't get me wrong, a few of my first pitches were a little rough - but worthwhile lessons.
Here are a few nuggets that have been helpful along the way:
"For me, the most effective press releases are ones that incorporate humor or some semblance of personality, or appeal directly to my sensibilities as not only a journalist, but as a real person who is a fan of video games and the industry."
- Kris, Editor-in-Chief at Gamasutra
"If you can't describe what is important in three sentences, you're at a major disadvantage. You have to hone your approach. I get one hundred emails a day, most of them are poorly written. That's what makes it so important to distill the essence of your message and tell your writer why they should care in the subject line and hit it even harder in the body of the email."
- Ben, RunJumpDev
What I learned is that it’s all about learning your own style and being proud of it. Internet memes? Check. Animated gifs? Why not. For me it was finding my stride and what works best for me. What is acceptable in your industry? Telling jokes, making phone calls, or pitching in 140 characters? Whatever it is, get at it. Find your stride and you will start to feel comfortable spreading your wings.
What works best for you? What are your best pitching practices, and how did you learn them?
Originally posted: Apring 12, 2012