Crafting a pitch that reinforces a professor’s value to a spectrum of audiences is no simple task, but in order to do so PR professionals must first put forward the effort to develop a strong client relationship. Whether they are new or an existing professor, understanding their background and industry is paramount for any PR pitch strategy to work. Gaining new opportunities for a professor is a culmination of tactful communication, organic chemistry, and an understanding of a desired outcome on both ends. The art of a pitch can only begin by first refining a PR professional’s interpersonal skill set.
Here are some important tips that need to be taken into account before pitching your client:
Establish Trust: Why Should Professors Believe in Digital PR?
It’s no secret that the foundation to any relationship is trust, so how can trust be secured? Assuring a client that they can expect increased visibility and an increased level of brand awareness for their program is step one. By providing case studies of past successes, a client can better gauge what to expect as they place their public image into the hands of those in PR. For example, a PR professional should promote their accomplishments and mention what notable publications they have succeeded in getting other clients published in. We have the responsibility of knowing what it is we are able to accomplish and should communicate those abilities to our clients. Alternatively, we must be as transparent as possible when it comes to how our team operates when guaranteeing a PR pitching strategy that a professor can believe in. Once a professor is on board with the pitching strategy, PR professionals must strive to demonstrate a consistent work ethic in order to prove that they are reliable.
Be Informed: Know Your Professor and Their Field of Expertise
Before writing a pitch, a PR professional must do their research. Engage in a discussion about what the Professor’s strengths are, making it clear that the end-goal is to showcase them in the best light possible. A vital part of our higher education digital PR pitching strategy is to leverage the expertise of professors and create quality backlinks to boost program organic rankings. But before learning how to write the perfect media pitch, you must familiarize yourself with your client’s persona, their work, and how they want to be represented as experts in the public sphere. Start with an initial interview that delves into the client’s background and ask them to open up a discussion on what they are passionate about. What research are they currently conducting? What do they feel is their biggest accomplishment to date? These types of questions are crucial to ask before moving forward with your pitch.
Targeting Publications: Know Your Professors Audience and Goals
After discussing a Professor’s needs and assessing what topics they can speak on most confidently, it then becomes the PR professional’s responsibility to pitch them to a publication. Depending on a key element of the pitch, specifically the news peg or time peg, certain outlets may find more value in a professor’s commentary than others. Can the professor provide insight on a subject that is more specific to an industry-related audience, or will their knowledge be more appealing to a broader audience? In the SEO sphere, utilizing a browser analytics extension tool such as the MOZ bar can help those in PR determine a publication’s website metrics and traffic. This would allow for the targeting of publications we know would bring more visibility to our client. We want nothing more but to make a professor as relevant as possible to those willing to listen. Being able to match these to the desires of the professor can also add to the successes and opportunities gained.
Rule of Thumb: Show Appreciation
A professor’s time is incredibly valuable and they will have spent countless hours conducting research within their respective fields. They are trusting agencies to execute good PR on their behalf and undoubtedly deserve gratitude for giving those in PR the opportunity to do their job. And let’s not forget the journalists and editors. They too are constantly juggling a multitude of projects and we must be sensitive to how we approach pitching them our professors. A simple “thank you” after scoring an opportunity can facilitate the growth of a relationship which in turn can present more opportunities for clients down the road. As PR professionals, we celebrate the success of our professor’s being published. Successful PR is not automatic, and it is important to take pride in any goal that has been achieved.
Aren Fikes is a recent graduate of Humboldt State University and budding multimedia journalist. During his time at Circa Interactive, he has grown exponentially while taking his first steps into the Digital PR and Marketing Realm. He hopes forge a career path that enhances his passions for storytelling, digital content creation and marketing in the near future.