The Call was Perfect! The PR pitch, Even Better!!

Recently, we’ve heard a lot about a phone call between a certain U.S. leader and a Ukrainian head of state. The call was said to be perfect at least by the former, and it must be true because he’s said it not once, but over and over again.

Some disagree, and there’s controversy on this (and even a non-proverbial act of Congress).  But without getting all political, let’s cut some slack.

We’ve all done things we thought were great but were not well received, or where reality crashed the perfection party:

  • The golf putt that almost went in
  • The drunken wedding toast that seemed funny at the time
  • The baseball pitch that was for sure a strike, until the ump ruled “ball!”
  • Perfect pitch (tonal) – this YouTube video explains that you can’t attain the skill after childhood; despite one adult who insisted he had. It’s by Rick Beato, a musical genius with a great and informative YouTube channel.

And what about PR pitches?  Public relations is my turf, after all.  In the spirit of transparency, I share a PR pitch that I thought had been stellar but that somehow missed the mark.  I asked others on the team to do the same.

Early in my PR career, I was getting a lukewarm reception when pitching a data storage startup.  This was before the tech took off in the early 2000s, and many did not seem to care about the subject or the vendor.  I took a humorous approach (and a clever one, at least I thought), likening covering storage to reorganizing a sock drawer:

“Last time I broached the subject 4 out of 5 people quickly demurred, citing the need to ‘reorganize a sock drawer’.

I didn’t get the chance to explain that amidst a tech downturn, one segment has continued to rack up impressive gains (IDC predicts an amazing 86% compounded annual growth rate through 2002), creating boundless value for shareholders and fostering a dynamic and innovative market. Do I have your attention?”

Pitch for Data Storage Vendor

One reporter did not agree it was so clever – and went so far as to rewrite the pitch:

You’re obviously not a salesperson.

Create dynamic tension. Sock drawers? Sure– most anyone would yawn the way you’ve approached the subject. Then cite IDC, the people that were sure that OS/2 would be the dominant operating system by 2000.

How to do this? Easy. Data is multiplying like horny rabbits in a good month. The madness: The powers that be estimate that data stored on the Internet is growing at a rate that actually doubles the size of all storage of anything anywhere in the world circa 1990 EACH MONTH!

How are people coping? What’s the impact? What about reliability? It’s not just about hard disks any more. It’s about a world that lives on magnetic and optical storage. Talk to our expert– he can give you the information, the timelines, the stuff that’ll make sense in a world that doesn’t make sense.

He’s strong, virile, and maybe even right sometimes.

See? Did I get your attention? Looking for left-hand socks.

Mark from our team shared these examples:

Early in my career, one of my clients released a Pink Panther computer game for kids.  I wrote a semi-humorous pitch letter from the point of view of The Pink Panther.  My boss thought it was creative and adorable.  At least one reporter disagreed, replying simply, “I HATE THIS PITCH.”

I also once put together what I thought was a truly fascinating pitch based on the information given to me by a client.  It resulted in MULTIPLE reporters informing me that I had my facts wrong.  One of them basically wrote a full essay explaining why I was so wrong. The lesson here: Never assume your clients know what they are talking about!  Research everything.

Emily also shared an example of a pitch she wrote based on inaccurate info given to her by a client; whose take on the market was 23 years out of date!  She started sending the pitch – only to learn from a friend in the industry that the assumptions were outdated.

And what about you? Got perfect pitch? Please share!

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