The Anatomy of a Media Pitch
My colleague, Sonia Abdulbaki, and I have written extensively about coaches can hone media relations skills to position themselves as thought leaders, increase their exposure and connect with new audiences. But what does this look like in practice from start to finish? Let’s take a walk through the process. In this simulation, I will play the role of a coach, while Sonia will be a reporter at a local publication, drawing from our public relations expertise and our real-life experiences working with ICF and coaches like you.
To complement your media outreach efforts, make sure to brush up on how to include your clients in case studies, identify the appropriate reporters by building an effective media list and get the media interested in coaching.
1. The Soft Pitch
Subject: Fan Mail – Your Bad Bosses story
I enjoyed reading your article about horrible bosses. Micromanagers are frustrating, but my personal pet peeve was the hands-off leader who didn’t provide any direction. I’m going to send your piece to some of my coaching clients who are first-time people managers working to develop their leadership identity.
Analysis: Instead of an unsolicited cold call, we’re sending what every reporter loves to receive: positive reader feedback. This way, you’ll stand out from the dozens of daily pitches that clog a reporter’s inbox. But it takes more than just saying you loved the story. Be sincere. Tell the reporter a key takeaway you drew from it, and that you are sharing it with colleagues, clients and friends.
2. Reporter Response
Thanks for your kind words and for sharing the article. I’m glad that you found it useful!
Analysis: This “thanks for reading” response opens the door for you to follow up with the reporter and pitch a specific topic where you also offer yourself as a source. If the reporter doesn’t respond, repeat this ”read and react” exercise a few weeks later. If the reporter posted their article on Twitter, you can also like or retweet it to get on the reporter’s radar, so your name will be more familiar the next time your email appears in their inbox.
3. Offer Yourself as a Source
My pleasure, Sonia.
Since you focus on careers, here are a few workplace-related topics that I can speak about in my capacity as a Leadership Coach.
(You can include some brief background on coaching here, such as the following:
A coach is a professionally trained individual who uses thought-provoking questions to help people tap into their potential and overcome barriers to success. Coaches also hold people accountable on setting goals and managing personal change.
Unlike consulting or mentoring, which involves experts prescribing solutions, coaching puts the client in the driver’s seat, so to speak, because they are the expert in their life.)
I also have some clients lined up who can discuss their coaching experience, and how it helped improve their communication, leadership and work-life balance.
Finally, I’m including some industry research about the effectiveness and popularity of professional coaching.
- Why you should be a coach, not a boss
- Questions you should ask before quitting your day job
- The one skill first-time millennial leaders should develop
- Want to work with a coach? Make sure you do this first.
Data from the 2017 ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study, commissioned by the International Coach Federation and conducted by PwC Research
The top three outcomes of coaching were:
- Improved communication skills (42%)
- Increased self-esteem/self-confidence (40%)
- Increased productivity (39%)
Of coaching clients surveyed, 88% indicated they were satisfied with their coaching experience, and a nearly identical percentage said it was important that their coach be credentialed.
Analysis: Including a handful of story ideas increases the chance that a reporter will want to learn more about one of the topics, without it becoming overwhelming. In addition to being a subject-matter expert, sharing a client testimonial is a great way to personalize the many benefits of coaching and validate your claims. Leveraging ICF’s excellent original research on coaching—and explaining how coaching differs from other modalities—will also help with the bigger-picture angle of coaching’s importance.
4. The Follow-up
Checking in to see if you were interested in any of the topics I previously sent you. I can also connect you to some of my clients, including a millennial who was recently promoted to supervisor in her company. She’s a first-time manager, so I’m working with her on how to use powerful questions with her direct reports to set them up for success instead of being a micromanager.
Analysis: In a perfect world, the reporter would respond right away and set up an interview. The reality is journalists face constant deadlines and distractions. Sending a quick reminder a few days later—even something as simple as, “Any interest?”—can help remind the reporter about your pitch. In this instance, I furthered the conversation by including details about a specific client. You may need to repeat the follow-up a few times, by email and by phone, but leave a week or two between each touchpoint.
5. Reporter Interest
Thanks, Adam. I’d like to learn more about the first topic—the difference between a coach and a boss. It would also be great to feature someone who benefitted from coaching. Can we set up an interview with you and your client? -Sonia
Analysis: Congratulations! You’ve just piqued a reporter’s interest in coaching. The interview you secured will either be kept on file or result in a placement. Need some interview tips to successfully get your message across and provide valuable insight? We’ve got you covered.
From Pitch to Piqued Interest
The above correspondence is the ideal scenario. Odds are, every pitch you send will not result in a reply. In addition to being personable from the start, remember that follow-up is key. And before you know it, all of these steps—just like the coaching techniques you’ve honed throughout the years—will become second nature.