The Science of the #TwitPitch

October 30, 2009

There are those of us (not me) who are excellent artists – like those people on cop shows that can draw a perfect rendition of the face of someone they have never met based on a description given by someone who was standing 100 yards away (“he had a nose… hair, it might have been brown – or black – maybe dark blonde.  Glasses, I think – but definitely eyes”).   There are those that are great writers – Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Perez Hilton (ok – maybe not so much with Perez – but he’s funny… usually).  And now, there is a new breed of greatness developing.   Those who are social-media mavens.  They can use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to do ridiculously amazing things, whereas I can only use them for what they were initially designed for – a way to keep in touch with friends and family.  There are those among us who are making a huge impact on the world we live in with 140 characters and the click of a button… comparatively, by the end of this sentence it will have taken me 196 words to get to the main point of this blog – and so, without further ado – I bring to you… the #TWITPITCH!

Kind of.  But first – a history lesson.

About a year ago, a journalist named Stowe Boyd decided that he no longer wanted to be pitched stories through the traditional means of e-mail and phone calls.  He preferred the 140 character method of Twitter.  By being able to pitch an idea in 140 characters (or less!) a PR professional should, ideally, be able to convey their entire message quickly and concisely.  According to the article from PR Daily, at least 2  other journalists have picked up on the trend, and encourage PR professionals to pitch them only via Twitter.

Taking a different approach – many companies are now turning to social-media to promote their brands; many companies are posting YouTube demonstrations of their products, almost every company has a Facebook “fan” page ( apparently I am a “fan” of a lot of things – including some things that have no relevance to my life what-so-ever), and lots of companies are taking up residence in the Twitterverse (which I tried to link to a definition, but apparently it doesn’t have an official one).  By using Twitter, companies are essentially able to pitch their new products and announcements directly to consumers, rather than just to reporters and editors.

And now, some real life application.

I had already started writing this blog when I was assigned the task of creating “10-15” twitpitches for one of our clients.  This particular client has one of their products in use in a very public place,  the plan is to blast a couple tweets out to the Twitterverse saying basically “hey if you’re here, check it out!”.   Perfect, I thought.  I am already “researching” twitpitches –  I’ll use this for my blog!  I figured that the assignment couldn’t be too hard – a couple quick short announcements of a fact.  EASY! Orrr not.

Here is what I have found (… well, decided).

Coming up with 140 characters of information is hard.  140 characters of “Hey I bought new shoes” is simple – see, I just did it!  But actually getting a message across takes some skill.  It took me about an hour to come up with 8 very different, but still informative and (hopefully) attention-grabbing tweets all focused around the same thing.  When you’re limited to 140 characters and you have to use the same basic words at least once in each tweet (obviously I had to mention the product and location each time, so those took up at least 20 of my characters) being creative is tough.

In theory, the twitpitch is great.  In practice – it’s astounding.  It costs nothing and assuming you’ve got a lot of followers, which a lot of companies do, you’re able to get your message out to lots of people.  Efficiency is key, however.  Telling the Twitterverse you’ve got a new product is cool, but linking to it is essential – and those links take up characters.  Making sure people know where they can find a product is important, but don’t forget to include the hashtags (ex: “#caster” – hashtags make words easily searchable through twitter).  Being able to tweet your product in 140 characters or less and have it be memorable and informative is practically an art form.  Do not take twitpitching lightly.  If you’re doing a great job of it, and using it sparingly – they could prove to be invaluable to your company.  If you are just bombarding your followers with links and “buy this now!” types of messages, you may find that you’re “unfollowed” pretty quickly.

Just for reference, below is an example of how long a 140 character tweet it.

DogWiggles has just released their most innovative dog leash yet and its only $40.  Buy it now at http://bit.ly/3jhP30 and have a happy pup.

(The link is fake – I made up a webaddress [I think] to show a shortened Twitter link, which people tend to use, rather than lengthy URLs.)

Notice that I didn’t include any hashtags, and it isnt exactly interesting.  But it’s all I could come up with in 140 characters and a fake product/company.

Posted by Courtney | Follow me on Twitter


Journalist honors PR professional

May 7, 2009

2701252967_d061dcbea51I hope someone will say nice things like this about me at some point in my relatively new career.

Posted by Joe Paone


Journalists on PR: A newspaper reporter sets ground rules

April 9, 2009

Good PR pros spend a lot of time trying to think like journalists in order to serve them better, and to better secure coverage for their clients.

nbc_the_more_you_know1It’s always refreshing, then, when a journalist takes the time to address the PR community directly and professionally with his or her needs in an informative fashion.

Richard Bammer, a staff writer with Vacaville, Calif.’s The Reporter, did just that yesterday. It’s rather basic stuff but it’s always good to take a refresher course. And, as a PR person, I greatly appreciate the gesture.

Posted by Joe Paone


Journalists on PR: Rebecca Day

February 4, 2009
Rebecca Day

Rebecca Day

In today’s installment of Journalists on PR, we’re honored to interview Rebecca Day, one of the consumer electronics industry’s most respected and prolific freelance writers.

Rebecca has written about CE for more than 20 years, and for the last 18 years as a freelancer. Her articles have appeared in a wide variety of consumer and trade publications, including Ladies’ Home Journal, Electronic House, Custom Home, Architectural Record, Family Circle, Rolling Stone, Home Theater, Ty Pennington at Home, Robb Report and more.

Rebecca is one of the journalistic mainstays of the electronics industry, omnipresent at key industry events and highly regarded by manufacturers, colleagues and readers alike. Editors particularly view her as their go-to person for features, reviews and installation stories, and in those areas, she is virtually peerless.

Rebecca’s warm-but-sharp, incisive and to-the-point interviewing style has left more than one of my clients in post-interview awe of her prowess. She asks probing questions, but she is fair, and that’s one of the highest compliments you can pay a journalist.

We’re thrilled that Rebecca took some time to talk with us about a freelancer’s particular needs from PR professionals.

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Journalists on PR: Audrey Gray

January 26, 2009
Audrey Gray

Audrey Gray

In the latest installment of CasterBlog’s Journalists on PR series, Caster’s Joe Paone interviews Audrey Gray, senior editor with North American Publishing Company‘s (NAPCO’s) Consumer Technology Publishing Group (CTPG).

Based in Philadelphia, Audrey writes business features and produces rich media content for CTPG’s roster of consumer electronics-focused publications, including consumer title E-Gear and trade titles Dealerscope, CustomRetailer and PictureBusiness. As such, she’s hella busy, and we’re extremely grateful she took the time to talk with us.

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Journalists on PR: Grant Clauser

January 4, 2009

Grant Clauser

Grant Clauser

Grant Clauser is editorial director of North American Publishing Company‘s Consumer Technology Publishing Group, which means he’s the editorial leader of E-Gear (of which he is also editor-in-chief), Dealerscope, CustomRetailer, PictureBusiness, HTSA Quarterly, Home Furnishings Business, HD Living and the Official CES Show Guide (whew, that list is finally over!). All told, an obvious slacker if there ever was one.

Grant’s been covering the CE business for 10 years. Before that, he edited several publications in the allied health market and wrote about fly fishing for various outdoor sports publications. His favorite movies are Excalibur and The Polar Express; his favorite beers are Guinness, Pocono Pale Ale and Yuengling Black & Tan. He wears a size 10.5 shoe. His favorite fly is the Parachute Adams. He sucks at Rock Band (Don’t we all, though? Even the ones who are good at it?). He tried for many CESes to convince me to join him for dinner at Star Trek: The Experience, and was never successful in doing so, although I greatly admired his genuine enthusiasm about the place. As far as I know, he occasionally sleeps.

Given all that is on Grant’s gigantic plate, we’re honored he took some time out to talk to us about PR. Heck, he’s even participated in a CEA webcast on the subject, so he kinda beat me to the punch. And just in case you missed it last week, he also sent me a quite illuminating survey of 20 anonymous CE tech journalists and their attitudes about PR, which makes for quite tasty reading.

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Journalists on PR: Tips for Working with the CE Press

December 30, 2008

My friend and former colleague Grant Clauser, editorial director of North American Publishing Company‘s Consumer Technology Publishing Group (E-Gear, Dealerscope, CustomRetailer, PictureBusiness and more), sent me the following in advance of our upcoming Journalists on PR interview, which we’ll post in January.

Says Grant, “Earlier this year, I was helping a friend who teaches a class in PR by doing a survey of other editors on how PR can better work with them… [T]he answers come from about 20 people and sometimes contradict each other.”

While the respondents all hail from the CE (consumer electronics) press, the results are great reading for any PR professional, as most if not all of what the respondents have to say is largely universal. As you read through, sometimes the contradictions that emerge will make your head spin… but keep in mind that these raw, unfiltered statements provide invaluable insight into how journalists think, and about what they want and don’t want from PR people. (And, of course, like snowflakes, no two journalists are exactly alike.)

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