3 Ways to Get Hands-On for Better Pitching

By Vanessa Boynton

As PR professionals, our craft demands versatility and speed. We need to be able to speak intelligently and convincingly about any number of topics – many of which may have little to no relevance in our personal lives – and we need to be able to do it to virtual strangers who’ve likely forgotten more about the topic than we’ll ever know. We have to be quick. We have to respond. We have to deliver. So it isn’t much of a surprise when we find ourselves parroting, instead of comprehending – copy/pasting, instead of writing – hitting ‘send’ without truly understanding the very words we’ve packaged up and fired off. Here’s the problem: choosing speed over understanding robs us of our chance to be passionate about the brands we represent.

This is the part where you roll your eyes.
I know – I’m being idealistic. After all, we’re not just bowing to the demands of a single client, but several. We have expectations to meet and team members we refuse to let down. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to dive head-first into a sea of fine print. But I can guarantee you that sending a few fewer emails tonight or blocking out an hour on your weekend in favor of spending meaningful time with your clients’ offerings will do you a world of good.

Here are three things you can try straight away:

1. Make use of demo videos. One of my clients has produced over 70 product videos in the last year. I’ve watched every single one. Many of them 4 or 5 times, as an in-depth visual demonstration has been critical to my understanding of gear I don’t see in my daily life. If your client doesn’t have demo videos, begin a conversation about getting them produced. 1-3 minute overviews are easy to create, provide context and technical understanding, and act as a perfect learning tool for you AND your media contacts.

2. Sign up for the webinars. And I don’t just mean the ones your clients perform. Cramming yet another something into your already-overbooked day may seem impossible, but you can make up the hour another time. Much like demo videos, it’ll give you a guided look at something you’d have trouble exploring on your own, and you’ll have a chance to hear questions and answers you wouldn’t necessarily think to pose. If your clients don’t perform webinars for their products, some quick searches online may yield similar sessions performed by customers, reviewers or even competitors.

3. Request review samples for the team. Many product or gear-focused brands make samples of their products available for reviewers. In anticipation of the interest you’ll be receiving from media, request that one or two samples of your clients’ primary products be sent to your office first so you have a chance to actually hold / aim / wear / test / blend the items before they’re forwarded to your media contacts. Take notes and snap a few photos of yourself or your team putting the gear to use. …And maybe hold off on the blending until the item comes back…

Be a partner – not a mouthpiece.
These tactics may not be ground-breaking, but they’re nonetheless necessary. Not only will your clients appreciate the knowledge you demonstrate of their products, but media will also benefit greatly from being able to get a few more of their technical questions answered, right away, by you. What’s more, you’ll be showing both sides that you’re dedicated to understanding the world they work in every day, making you not only the versatile and speedy PR person, but a valuable extension of both their teams.

Now hurry up and go get some dirt under those fingernails.