Pitch vs. Press Release vs. Wire Services
Often, clients and potential clients ask us what the difference between “pitching” and a “press release” and a “wire service” is. In a nutshell, pitching is one-on-one communication, often through an email or telephone conversation, with necessary individual follow-up. A press release is much longer than a pitch and is a written document with a newsworthy hook to be sent to a lot of journalists. A wire service is a paid service that disseminates your press release to thousands of online websites and is available to journalists.
Or in simplistic of terms – think of it like this: Your pitch is like a cover letter that accompanies your resume. The press release is like your resume. Monster.com, Carreerbuilder.com or any other resume posting site is like a wire service where you hope employers will look to find you.
Pitching is coming up with a unique story angle or idea that is newsworthy (a launch of a website is not newsworthy), stats to back up the idea, thought leadership, and sources geared to a specific reporter and specific publication. Pitching is contacting a reporter or writer directly with a “pitch” that includes information to get them interested in writing a story. Pitches are generally very short and sweet and are normally accompanied with a one-sentence description of your company, a link to your press kit, video links and/or supporting material.
Many times, once we pitch the idea to a reporter, they have to then go sell the idea to their editor/producer. Sometimes this happens very fast, other times it can take a bit of time.
When we pitch, we might offer an exclusive. When we offer an exclusive, it is important that all parties (client, publicist, reporter) know that we are not offering this topic to any other outlet. Exclusives normally have an expiration date attached to the pitch.
Before we pitch anything to anyone, we have to do our homework. Here are a few noteworthy action steps:
☐ Research the writer/reporter on the internet
☐ Discover topics/beats the reporter/writer writes/reports on – just because the reporter once wrote about televisions doesn’t necessarily mean he always writes about televisions.
☐ Figure out the style of writing/style of reporting
☐Follow the reporter on Twitter and see his style socially
☐ Gather contact information – does he want to be emailed? Telephoned? Contacted socially?
What is a Press Release?
A press release (also called a media release, press release, press statement) is anything that is sent to the media that follows a standard format (though this has become fairly flexible):
Media Contact Info
Press releases are normally between 400-500 words. Today’s press releases are sometimes very financial or editorial in style or simply factual. The style totally depends on the audience you are targeting.
Sending a Press Release
You have drafted your press release (also called a media release, press release, press statement) and it is ready to be sent. The next question you need to answer is: are you going to send your news release directly to reporters or are you going to send it on a wire service?
If you send it directly to a reporter, make sure you have done your homework (see the above description on how to research reporters).
If you send it on a paid wire service you need to decide which one.
And many more…
A newswire is a paid service that will send your full press release to thousands of news outlets at one time. Many paid newswires will guarantee that a certain number of websites will post your press release on their website. Newswires will not guarantee that reporters will view your press release and write an original story about your company.
Using a wire service, though, will allow a release to be picked up by an assortment of general news sites, like Yahoo News, Google News, etc. Twitter pages set up to feed news based on specific keywords will also pick it up.
A wire service is great for national news and some local news, especially if the release is reaching a wide audience, but isn’t necessarily the best use for journalists to write unique stories.