We recently had a Fall-themed PAN Pub, where we were encouraged to bake fall treats. As I was whipping up my contribution, a pumpkin-chocolate chip bread with a cream cheese frosting (admit it, your mouth is watering), the thought occurred to me – PR is a lot like baking. Before you you shake your head and say, Gaby, seems like you can relate PR to be like legitimately anything, hear me out.
Every Ingredient Counts
PR is like baking because both require a very specific set of ingredients for any one project. For my pumpkin bread, I needed ingredients that are fairly common – flour, brown and granulated sugar, pumpkin mix, egg, butter, etc – but there was a very specific recipe I needed to follow to get the combination right. Those ingredients could make multiple treats, but for my purposes, I needed to follow specific instructions. The same is true with basic media list building and pitching. When building a media list you must consider both what your story is, and who will care. Reporters can live on multiple media lists if they care about multiple subject areas, but for a specific announcement you have to have the right combination of reporters and pubs who will help you craft your story. For pitching, the same is true. You have elements of a story you want to get across, but you can’t just pitch out “I have a story, listen to me!” You have to bake out why should listen to you, using a combination of ingredients to catch their attention and tell the story in a way that will appeal to their tastes.
Organization is Key
Baking and PR both work best when you are organized and know your goal. In baking, I line out my ingredients, tools and the recipe before I get cracking. In PR, I have my to-dos (my recipe, if you will), tools and goals all set before I start a day of pitching. If you don’t start a PR project in an organized manner, it is easy to get pulled off-task, forgot the desired outcome or simply have crummy results. Being organized also helps you to remember if you have a forgotten ingredient – or in PR’s case, if you need to do more research before you start pitching.
Customize Your Recipe
Baking is fun because once you get your base recipe down, you can add anything you want! With the pumpkin bread, for instance, I always add chocolate chips when I make it for me and my roommates, but when I make it for my friend who loves it with raisins and walnuts, that is what I add. Pitching works the exact same way. PR people have their special pitching format and build off of that to personalize it for the specific reporter. The same goes for special media or social campaigns. Social campaigns all follow the same basic rules, but depending on the client, target audience and goal you can add special ingredients to make them unique. With media tours, one that works in Chicago will not be the same as in NYC because of the different combination of people and interests, and different topics discussed
Practice and Patience Make Perfect
Both take practice. I am in awe of bakers who can whip up perfectly crafted and decorated cakes and pastries, almost in the same way I am amazed by PR pros who can always offer insightful client counsel and opportunity after opportunity while also bringing in new clients. Then I remember – both take practice and time to hone the skills needed. Your pitch may fall on deaf ears or you could get hung up on accidently pitching a reporter in the wrong beat (the PR equivalent to putting baking soda in those muffins instead of baking powder) but after some practice, you’ll get to taste the sweet victory of PR well done – and muffins just done enough!