The keys to pitching your business effectively & easily with Patricia Maristch
Episode 68 on the Business Bites Podcast
The Gist Of This Episode: “Oh my gosh, I have to talk about myself.” That can be really hard to do, but if we don’t talk about ourselves, who’s going to do it? Join Rachel and Patricia discuss how and why to pitch your business to others.
Rachel: Alright Patricia, I’m so excited to talk about pitching. Thank you so much for coming on the show today.
Patricia: Of course. I’m so excited to be here.
Rachel: You know, the thing is when you say pitching, I feel like many entrepreneurs, especially even me even though I’ve been doing this for over a decade, kind of freeze up and go, “Oh my gosh, I have to talk about myself.” That can be really hard to do, but one thing I’ve realized is if we don’t talk about ourselves, who’s going to do it?
Patricia: Exactly, you have to be your best advocate.
Rachel: That’s so funny. You’re the founder and CEO of Piqued PR, which is a boutique lifestyle public relations firm, so you’re doing this for other people, but you’re also pitching for yourself. I’m excited. Let’s dig into a little bit of your background and your path of how you got here, and then we’ll get into the nitty gritty of tips so that the listeners can start pitching themselves.
Patricia: Yeah, definitely. I actually have a background, a degree in communications, PR and fashion merchandising. That’s kind of why I stick to this lifestyle realm with PR, with fashion, beauty and decor clients. It’s because my interest, my degree and what I studied, all of that is in that lifestyle world. After graduation, the job scene wasn’t the best from college graduation. I started actually working on a political campaign once I graduated doing PR for the politician. That was-
Rachel: Talk about a baptism by fire into PR management.
Patricia: Exactly. I mean, it was so fun. It was a great experience. Then from there, I got a job at an agency a few months after graduation. It was a liquor company actually. They did like Sailor Jerry Rum, Hendrick’s Gin and all the art in the age products. But while I love a good cocktail, that wasn’t exactly where the interest was, the area that I wanted to work in. So, I started freelancing on the side actually with more of these fashion, beauty, décor, lifestyle clients and eventually I had enough that I could just start my own thing, so I started Piqued PR.
Rachel: That’s cool. Think back to your first year in business, because many of the listeners are in there; they’re either on the cusp of entering into business or they’re in the newer stages. What is one thing that you would tell yourself or change from what you did then?
Patricia: Back then I don’t think … Obviously social media was around back then, but I don’t think I knew the importance of it even still and how much that could be potential business for my company. So, I think I would focus more on social media. Then the other thing, and I think a lot of people say this is that they wish that they would’ve got help sooner. I feel like they’re … Just recently I started taking on some employees to help me out. But before that, I tried to do everything. You end up wasting time because if it’s not what you’re best at, then it takes you so much longer, which then it ends up costing you more.
Rachel: I’ll even add on to that. Not even just having the help but learning things. When I first came on the scene, there wasn’t this huge education accessibility. I mean, everyone was super guarded. The whole freemium model really didn’t exist. You had to pay for everything and it still wasn’t even as big. Not that I was against paying, I just … I mean, content wasn’t king at the time. We’re talking about it was mostly landing pages and that was it. You didn’t get a lot of the freemium style content to see people’s value to pull you in. You basically had like a long form sales copy page.
For me I look back and think, it’s valuable for the lessons that I learned figuring it out myself, but I often stop and think had I just been able to find a business coach, a mentor or a class, an Ebook, something to bring it all to me and put it into my lap, how much time I would’ve really … How much more forward would I be? How more advanced would-
Patricia: Oh, totally. Yeah, I’m a big believer in reading business books, I’ve taken classes even if they’re not necessarily what you think will help your business, but sometimes you just need the inspiration from something else. Like I went and got a certificate in interior design actually a few years ago just because I don’t know, I had an interest in it and I think it has helped my business because I do work with some interior designers. There’s just a lot of, I don’t know, things that crossover with fashion and interior design, so it’s just something good I think to always do, invest in learning.
Rachel: I agree. And, looking outside the industry that you’re in. This is a good crossover to pitching because I just came home from a blogging conference. I speak at it frequently, but I’m not a blogger in the normal sense. Blogging is just a part of my content strategy, but one of the main things that bloggers have to do, they have to pitch. They have to talk about themselves.
Sitting down and talking to these bloggers and getting to know … And these are attendees. I’m the keynote speaker and they’re teaching me the importance of pitching, so this interview is so timely because if you’re not pitching yourself, then like we said before, who is going to do it for you? And, you can’t control the message really at that point. So, let’s kind of … For me that’s a big push and I’m really excited to hear this.
For those that are listening and going, “Oh my gosh, you haven’t defined pitching for us yet Rachel,” Patricia, can you give them a brief explanation of what pitching and pitching your business is and kind of your approach to that?
Patricia: Yeah. Pitching really how you obtain anything for your business. Most of the time it relates to press. But, it could be for collaborations, it could be really for anything. Basically, it’s putting you and/or your business out there as well to the world. It’s positioning yourself as an expert or relevant, and whatever the case may be is really what I think pitching comes down to. Then obviously the art of pitching is the process of that. The process of reaching out to people for these collaborations or press features, things like that.
Rachel: That’s the thing is, how do you fare a who to pitch to? I mean, where do you even begin? Maybe before we get into who, we need to kind of backup and go, what would you even include in a pitch? Which comes first? Do you identify who you’re going to pitch to or what to include? What’s your process for that?
Patricia: I think it depends, it could be either or. If you are launching a new product or service, let’s say if you’re a business that has a product or service, then you’re going to be pitching the product or service, so later you’re going to want to think about who you’re pitching because you already know what you’re pitching. It’ll be that new product or service. But who, I mean there’s all …
When you’re pitching, you want to think about different angles that relate to that specific outlet. For example, one of our clients just launched a new desktop calendar. It’s Paris themed, so we’re pitching that to publications for the New Year obviously, because at a new year, you need a new calendar. But then, we’re also getting creative and we’re thinking, well, let’s pitch that to food and wine magazines because there’s pictures of food and wine in these illustrations on the calendar and it’s Paris themed.
Everyone thinks of food and wine when they think of Paris. Then also, let’s pitch it to some fashion publications because Paris and fashion go hand in hand too. So, I think these pitches, they change from outlet to outlet and you need to get strategic and think creatively about how you can attract someone else’s attention.
Rachel: I love what you said. I love the example that you provided because I think sometimes, especially if you’re newer in pitching, you’re so focused on, okay, I know I want to pitch to this one type of individual or business to talk about me, whereas you have outlined like three different variations coming out of one project. For me that kind of helps to open my eyes a little bit to get a little more creative of, alright, who else? What is related to this that I got to also pitch to?
But for me, I kind of go back and forth. It was interesting how you said it because I can see in my mind when I’m going to pitch somebody, I start with like what you talked about, the project or the idea. I maybe will jot down a couple of people that I want to pitch to but as I’m formulating the pitch, I might actually end up adding more people or subtracting people off the initial list.
So, getting into an effective pitch, I think that is what’s … I think who you want to pitch is relatively easy. If you asked me and I’ll just be … I am completely transparent on my podcast. Like, I want to get into Forbes, I want to get in Entrepreneur Magazine, these big names. I’ve had to pitch myself repeatedly and so I guess I’m selfishly now going to ask, what are the key elements for an effective pitch to somebody?
Patricia: I think the main focus of a pitch is, it goes back to just general journalism. You need the who, what, when, where, and why in your pitch of who you’re pitching or what you’re pitching. If it’s an event, when, where, and why it’s relevant or relates to that outlet that you’re pitching too. That’s kind of the basis. Generally you need a press release too because if they’re interested in picking it up, then the press release answers more of those questions and goes into more details.
Then honestly, the thing that really sets them apart and we talked about this a little bit before is that it needs to be personalized. That’s what’s really going to set it apart. I think the biggest issue is people adjust pitch across the board. If you want to get into more business focused magazines let’s say, you’ll just use that same pitch. You’ll just say hi and not even put the person’s name. It’s just very general.
But I mean, Forbes and your local magazine for your city are very different publications. So, you have to think about that angle then. Or, even with the examples I gave earlier. A food and wine magazine is very different than a fashion magazine, so you have to personalize those pitches. You can’t just use the same pitch and I think using a general pitch of, “Oh hi, our client’s launching the new calendar. It’s Paris themed,” and that’s it. It’s not going to attract anyone. You need to tell them why they need to put it in their publication or why they need to feature you specifically.
Rachel: What I’m hearing is, we have a regular pitch of the who, what, why and, well, I guess not how but the who, what, and why. Then you have a press release that follows that up. Where do media kits fall into this?
Patricia: Media kit is more if you … I mean, it can be for a product or service to, but we see that a lot more with personalities. If you’re a blogger, influencer, or if you’re someone like yourself, a media kit then basically has all your stats. It’s where you’ve been featured before, whether that’s where you’ve talked before or blogs that have featured you, or where you’ve taught seminars, whatever it may be. It gives the stats.
A lot of times it also has your social media on there as well, a little blurb about you and your target audience, your followers, who they are. We see that a lot more with personalities I’d say. If you’re doing a big launch or if you’re introducing a brand new brand, something completely new, then you would do a media kit, a full media kit.
Rachel: If you are a personality like you said and you’re pitching, would you suggest including this media kit in the first pitch? I think that’s one of the things that I see and I struggle with is, I want to give them enough information but I don’t want to overwhelm. But at the same time, I also don’t want to look like I’m playing cutesy like I am pussyfooting around to not give information. What is the balance between the two when you are pitching?
Patricia: At first honestly, I would not include your media kit. I would make the introduction first because a lot of times too in your media kit you include pricing. I think that that’s something that has to be talked about more so you can’t just include that because then that’ll … It comes across I don’t know, not as warm and friendly if you’re just throwing numbers out right away.
And then, I also think the other issue of why I try not to do too many attachments such as the media kit in an email is sometimes then it automatically goes to spam, so it gets filtered through already and does it make it to someone’s inbox. You don’t want to put too many attachments, whether there are pictures. You don’t want to put too many links either in an email because that is a flag for some spam blockers.
Rachel: Great thing that you brought this up. It’s almost like I paid you to do it because I have felt like I’ve been on this cutting edge which I know that I didn’t come up with this, but I hate PDFs. I can’t stand them. I don’t know, it’s just because of things like you said. They get rejected, they go to spam, all this kind of stuff. So for me, I have really embraced for my brands putting this media kit and pitch-style landing page hidden on my site, but directly sending that link. Is that too much of a disconnect?
Patricia: No, I think that’s perfect. I’ve seen it, people sending links. Especially if we’re working with an artist or a jewelry designer and there’s multiple images you want to show, then we’ll have a Dropbox with all the images so you could have all your media kit, things like that. I think having one central link is really key.
Rachel: Okay, cool. I love that. I guess the big thing you guys got to figure out, the who, what, why, and then what about the call to action? In that first pitch do we need to say, “This is what I intend to do.” I like to throw out ideas and see what they come back [inaudible 00:14:11] cut me off if they have a completely different-
Patricia: Exactly, I think I’m putting in some ideas is perfectly fine. I think that’s great, especially if you are a blogger or if you’re an influencer. If you’re trying to host an event, throw out some ideas of what the different events could be. If you’re trying to collaborate with a brand, then throw out some ideas of, “Hey, I was thinking I’d style this for a game day look or I could do gifts for Valentine’s.” I don’t know, I’m just throwing out some ideas right now.
But, I would throw out a few ideas of how you could see the collaboration going. Even if you’re pitching to a magazine, if you’re a brand, if you’re pitching to a magazine then say, “I think this would be a great fit in your whatever section,” just to show that you took the time to do the research, you picked up the magazine or you looked at their website or you looked at their social media and you know your stuff. That you’re not just reaching out to everyone. That you really tried to personalize it.
Rachel: That’s key because I get pitched a lot for people to come on the podcast and we have a really rigorous process of who gets on because I really want good quality people. So, I am the recipient of pitches all the time and the team and I have gotten to where if it just looks like a standard copy paste, we may say thanks but no thanks. I mean, it may a be good person, but if they didn’t really take the time, I really am always blown away when people pitch me and they have pulled out information that are the key parts of my brand.
Patricia: Yeah, it means so much. We’ve even had pitches because I represent a lot of jewelry brands as well where a blogger will pitch us because they want to collaborate, but they’ll put another jewelry brand name. It’s a general pitch and they forgot to switch the name and then I don’t even respond to that because I’m like, if you didn’t take the time to at least check this if you’re going to just copy and paste your pitches, then who’s to say that you’re going to spend the right amount of time on putting this blog post together?
Rachel: It’s funny is that the listeners are probably thinking, “Oh my gosh, that’s common sense,” but y’all, you don’t understand how often this happens. It’s easy to fall into this as the person doing the pitching because I do this frequently. I’ll have a structured pitch and by the time you’ve already sent out a couple, you start to get tired and you’re like, “Oh, I just want to copy and paste and be done with it and get it sent out.”
But, you really want to get the most steam that you can under that pitch because this may be your one shot. This may be your one time for them to pick you up, which leads into a really good question. What happens if they don’t even respond or don’t pick you up? What is your recommendation on follow ups or continued pitching?
Patricia: With pitching and PR in general, I would say 90% of it is following up, so always follow up. Sometimes in my email in the initial pitch I’ll include, “I look forward to hearing back and I’ll follow up in a few days if I don’t hear from you.” That way they know that, you’re looking for a response. Whether that’s yes or no, at least you’re getting that. So, I would follow up.
Obviously you’re not going to get everything that you pitched. I think pitching is really throwing a bunch of balls and seeing what sticks to the wall sort of thing and-
Rachel: But in that line, only pitch things that are really within your business-
Patricia: Yes, yes, of course. But, I mean in the angle of trying to different angles and getting creative and strategic about how you’re pitching. What was I saying?
Rachel: But that’s true. Also, don’t exclude something because it doesn’t fit in that normal … Going back to the example that you were talking about with the calendar. My thought went to, oh, I just need to get in the path of entrepreneurs, moms or whoever uses calendar. I, because I’m still learning this whole pitching thing even over a decade later, I wouldn’t have considered a fashion magazine and all of that.
Even in my personal life, like I do athletics and I may have sponsorships, I ended up with a mattress sponsorship. That wasn’t even on my radar. I wouldn’t even have thought to pitch them, they actually came to me. But when I sat down for my athletics, I wasn’t thinking mattress, I was thinking equipment I need for the actual sport.
So, it’s expanding your mind, but not making it a shot in the dark. That is not a logical thing because you don’t just want to represent a brand or have your article on somewhere or a feature with a journalist on a site if it doesn’t really fit with the messaging. It’s kind of washed at that point.
Patricia: Exactly, exactly. I would say your target and their target should be the same. If you work with more high end clienteles or your prices are higher and you’re not necessarily a budget product or service that you’re offering, then you don’t want to pitch a budget-conscious site or outlet magazine. They need to be aligned that way you’re gaining something and they’re gaining something.
Rachel: If you had to give one tip, that’s it, to help someone make a successful pitch, what would that one tip be? It could be something we’ve already talked about, but what would, if they get nothing else out of this episode?
Patricia: Definitely personalize it. I think that’s really what sets you apart, just doing your research and personalizing your pitch and not just using a blanket pitch. Getting to know what the outlet that you’re pitching and thinking creatively.
Rachel: I agree and I think that’s the thing too. For me my pitches, I have a templated ones but you’re always being refined and updated. I’ve kind of gotten lazy in telling my audiences where I’m speaking. You mentioned this earlier in the episode, where I’ve been speaking or events or appearances. You start when you are doing so much. You take for granted that people don’t know this. You have to hand deliver that information to them.
This is even applicable to pitching and for just marketing in general, but you have to deliver this information, especially if you’re reaching out to, like for me, reaching out to Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazine. They’re people that are receiving pitches, they’re not running around researching me probably. They want all the information in one email and just like the name of your business, they want their interest piqued.
Patricia: Good plug.
Rachel: They want [inaudible 00:20:38] piqued right then, and so it really is our responsibility to do that. Well, this has been awesome. Oh my gosh, this really motivates me that when we get off here I need to go reframe my pitches a little bit and see what I can do. But, can you share where the listeners can find you and what you offer in case others need help? I know I’m going to need your help, that’s for sure.
Patricia: Of course, yeah. You can find me piquedpr.com. That’s piquedpr.com, and on social media were @PiquedPR as well. We offer public relations, social media, email marketing and events.
Rachel: That’s cool. I’m going to put all of this into the show notes for you guys. If you want to go over to rachelbrenke.com/epi68, it’s going to be episode 68. I would appreciate it if you all would leave a review. Five star would be awesome. It really helps us out to get this information to other entrepreneurs for help. Please hit up Patricia, commit to putting pitches into your marketing plan. And again, if you guys need any help at all, you can also jump into the Business Bites Facebook group. We’d be more than happy to help you answer any questions there.
Featured Guest & Resources
Patricia Maristch is the founder and CEO of Piqued PR, a boutique lifestyle public relations firm located outside of the city of Philadelphia focusing on fashion, beauty, and décor clients. Patricia has been featured on Fox29, 6ABC, NBC 10, Society Social, Southern Living and more while her clients have been featured in People Style Watch, Bravo, Hallmark, The Today Show, Country Living and more.
Patricia’s story is unique as she started Piqued PR in 2013, a year out of college at the age of 23! Working at an agency full time and freelancing in her spare time, she turned her side hustle into her own business that is still thriving 5 years later!
Three Things She’s Good at creative thinking (usually always at the most inconvenient times) networking hobby decorating
Promo Social Media Planner, DIY PR Lists, and consulting session
Rachel Brenke is a lawyer, author and business consultant. She is currently helping professionals all over the world initiate, strategize and implement strategic business and marketing plans through various mediums of consulting resources and legal direction.
Hi, I’m Rachel Brenke
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