A few weeks ago, I was walking down Second Street in San Francisco, when some window signage caught my eye. In a bold font, it declared that the company inside was made of storytellers. Data nerds. Content kings. Digital divas.
It’s plausible they were. It was also clear they were trying a bit too hard to describe their business. In reality, they were marketers and communicators who got a bit too ambitious in playing out their own creative brief.
Now there’s nothing wrong with highlighting your strengths. True differentiation is hard to come by in shops. Self-applied labels can be advantageous, signaling specialties to potential clients while keeping a firm focused. But there’s one label that has given me pause for at least a decade: the “digital” agency.
In reality, having digital expertise is a basic component of any well-regarded firm nowadays. Some may excel in certain aspects, such as social and digital media capabilities, while others may have other pinpointed offerings like SEO/SEM or marketing automation.
Yet leading with the “digital” tag frequently signals an underlying weakness in the firm being able to look at the broader challenge faced by an organization, then develop the right approach. Placing digital first assumes that bits and bytes can cure all ills, solve all problems, and win all battles. It’s a tactic-first approach in a world crying out for smarter, more strategic thinking.
And often, as we’ve seen, the digital-only is quick to fade when put to the test. Digital is part of the equation—usually a big part—but it’s no substitute for the balanced, multi-faceted plans that are at the core of the most successful initiatives.
The next time you’re pitched by a “digital” shop or invite one to consider a project, dig deeper. Are you buying substance or effervescence? The choice is yours.
By Mike McDougall
Journalists, freelancers and bloggers’ inboxes are constantly inundated with media pitches. If you want to grab their attention and get your pitch noticed, consider the following tips:
Play to the Right Audience
Before you can start shooting off emails to that same old list of contacts, be fully aware of who exactly you are pitching. Sounds obvious enough, right? Do a little bit of homework before pitching to the media to get a better idea of who these people are and topics they tend to cover. If it’s not topical or relevant to the recipient, they won’t bother reading.
Don't Copy and Paste Your Pitch
I once was told to write exactly how you would talk. It sounds more natural, conversational and quite frankly, it’s more enjoyable to read. This rule is no different for story pitches. Writers can smell a copy-and-paste pitch from a mile away. You must use your unique voice when drafting a pitch to avoid sounding generic or automated.
Highlight the Value You Are Providing
If your pitch still leaves the recipient with additional questions, chances are you won’t get a response. Before you get started, ask yourself questions like, why would people find this story interesting? Or, how can this story help me reach my target audience? Then, point out the value in your pitch. If you see value in what you’re writing, it shouldn’t be hard for someone else to see it, too.
Get to the Point!
Ever heard the tired cliché, ‘less is more’? Well, it’s true! Make your pitch clear and concise. Be upfront and honest in what you’re asking for right off the bat rather than dancing around the topic for too long. Think about all of the pitches sitting in the inboxes of journalists all over the country—and the world—right now. If you want to stand a chance at being heard over all of the background noise, get to the point!
Here's one way to look at it—if you wouldn’t respond, then writers probably won’t either. So if you want to get ahead of the game the next time you have to pitch to the media, consider these four helpful tips.
By Maggie Munley
Insights, from us to you.