AT THE HEART OF GOOD PR; IT IS PITCHING WITH VALUE IN MIND.
When you pitch yourself for anything it can make or break your ability to land opportunities. It might be that you’re putting yourself forward to be considered for a potential job within a business, or you’re pitching as an agency for new business, or perhaps you’re just meeting new people and answering the simple question about what it is you do. In the case of the PR world, when you’re pitching an editorial opportunity to a journalist for consideration…how you pitch matters.
Presenting ideas, opportunities, and collaborations and positioning them for take-up is a fundamental skill that must be mastered to be successful in PR. It’s also a skill that can be applied to any opportunity you want to be considered for or to build awareness around what it is you want to be known for most and to earn a place in people’s minds.
Introduction expert and keynote speaker Joanna Bloor says “decisions about you and your business are made in a room you’re not in. It’s your story. It’s time you owned it”. And it’s a sentiment very relevant to the core of PR and pitching yourself for opportunities in any capacity. To own your story, you must shape it, define it and do so with value at the heart in a way that sparks interest and is easily consumed.
And what this means is that when someone asks you about what you do, how you answer that will either be remembered, repeatable and of interest or not. How you put yourself forward for any opportunity will also be remembered and considered, or not.
Businesses, media and each and every one of us receive a deluge of content and potential opportunities to consider multiple times throughout the day, sometimes in the same minute. It is the ones that are put forward as a value proposition that are the ones that stick. And by value proposition, I mean how you summarise what you do, or what is your pitch by way of value to whoever you’re pitching to.
To shape and influence the conversations around you need to consider how you can enable greatness in your customer, your audience; and highlight the on-going effort that you make to improve people’s lives. This is how you pitch with value. And this a wonderfully transferable PR skill that you can use every day.
When you’re putting yourself forward for an opportunity or answering the question about what you do you must, as always read the room and pitch who you are and why what you’ve got is of value.
How is what you’ve got to give important to them or someone they know? How does what you do bring value to the world? How do you give back? How do you make the lives of others better? What are the problems that you and your business solve? And ever so harshly but truthfully, just as Joanna puts it, why should anyone care?
One of the biggest mistakes potential employees make when reaching out to a business is to describe what they want from the placement. Most of the time people will talk about what they want to learn, and how it would make a valuable contribution to their life and their future. In the case of pitching to media this is also where PR pros can go wrong. What actually resonates with people in the position of making choices about someone’s opportunities is quite the opposite. It’s not what you’ll get it’s what you can give. Decision makers of any sort think in terms of how you can bring value to them and their cause at whatever stage of your business journey. This is how media make calls on what coverage to run and it’s how people decide if your story is worth remembering.
Knowing and getting clear on the value that you or your business delivers to people by getting clear on what you do; will help to avoid misadventures of the communication kind and bring you closer to the people who need what you’ve got.
To know your value and then pitch it consistently across every touch point of your business is a basic business growth tool which you can activate easily. In PR it’s the first thing we look to find before PRing a business. It’s impossible to PR anything or anyone without knowing its value to the target audience first.
This is what people do when you don’t pitch with value.
They don’t remember what you do or what you’ve got to give because it was un-relatable and unremarkable.
They move away from your website and social media platforms because it’s not clear how you would contribute to their life.
They don’t shop with you because things are unclear and it’s all too hard.
They don’t tell their friends about you because they’re not sure what it is you do either.
This is what people do when you have a clear value pitch.
They remember you and your purpose.
They develop confidence and clarity on why you/your business matters.
They can more easily communicate your point-of-difference everywhere and to everyone. This shapes your story and what others say about you.
They become roving ambassadors for you and your brand because they know the value you can bring.
Let’s be honest. Most of us don’t know how to talk about our value without a sense of unease. Either because we can’t see it to communicate it, or we simply don’t want to sound too big for our boots. And that’s ok. Shaping your story through value is not really about you, it’s about them and who you can help.
I couldn’t put it better than Vince Lebon, founder of Rollie Nation who said “I truly believe if you find a way to add value into people’s lives they will invest with their attention, advocacy and loyalty.” In order to be heard whether it’s for a PR pitch, a business pithc, a dream job you’re applying for, or anything you’re putting yourself forward for, it’s important to unpack the skill of how to pitch with value. When you make the description of what you do compelling, and not features based it has the capacity to have more impact.
Most people when pitching or asked to talk about what they do for a living default to talking about the features of their product or service, or the list of services and various products within a range. They talk about the what and how, but not the ‘why’ or the value.
When people hear services and features they either feel underwhelmed by the commercial messaging or overwhelmed by ‘features clutter’ and block it out. The human mind is more drawn to compelling stories with genuine sentiment that we can relate to. People care less about the product, features and, benefits and care most about the experience and personal meaning it will have for them. This is why it’s important to pitch in a way that is of value to the person you’re speaking to.
The best place to start when it comes to knowing and pitching your value is to know what makes you and the problems you solve unique.
When you know your unique point-of-difference you can radiate that with roses and a touch of cinnamon in all of your comms. It becomes the difference in giving the customer or whoever you’re pitching to a reason to pay attention in a competitive market. Know your uniqueness and speak in value terms and you’ll be able to dovetail that in all that you do.
It’s not about manipulating potential customers. That will never last. It’s about knowing your uniqueness, centred in value, combined with your purpose and the problems your business solves. This is your DNA and uniquely yours. And it’s the best approach to ensure your communication allows you to stop selling yourself and start pitching.
To recap, the perfect pitch is about them (the receiver), not you. And you must always when pitching pitch with value, with giving and not taking.
Identifying a problem that you solve and communicating that solution clearly by way of value is the art of PR. It is the foundation of good PR communication. This is the perfect pitch. And this is why knowing the unique value that you bring is important. This is at the heart of PR.
Words by Jade Roberts
raraPR Founder and Creative Director
raraPR is above all the sum of people who together help build brands and share stories. We are present in our determination to make a positive difference to the world by representing individuals and businesses that are doing good. We are an extension of the personal stories within us, those that we exist for and those within you that need to be heard.