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  • Richard M. Williams

Storyology Mix – Crafting an Executive Visibility Pitch

Our job is not to be storytellers, that’s in the hands of the reporter. Our job is to work with our clients to pull forward the elements, or ingredients, that will help a reporter understand that there is a complete, newsworthy story to tell. We call this approach Storyology and consider ourselves Storyologists. For this blog, we’ll dive into the Executive Visibility recipe.

Every company wants its CEO, or another executive, to be covered in the leading business press, interviewed on TV shows, and profiled in local papers. They’ve seen the executives from competitors profiled and quoted and want the same thing.

To be clear, this is possible but it’s not as simple as calling up your contact at the Wall Street Journal and saying, “have I got someone that you need to speak with!”

There are several key ingredients that need to be included, each in the right amount, when pitching an executive to reporters. First, you need to understand the intent, basically to make sure the reason you’re trying to set up interviews is understood and clear. What I mean by this is that you need to understand what will happen if and when the reporter writes that story. This intent will dictate which ingredients to include and which to exclude from the pitch. It will also help you understand who to pitch and when.

For instance, let’s say your client is getting ready to announce a series of acquisitions as they look to grow the company. To stay with our Storyologist metaphor, we’ll call this pitch The Manhattan since a lot of the reporters likely to be interested will be based near financial centers like New York City. Reporters that cover M&A and growth will likely be most interested in this type of pitch, or a reporter that has already been following the company so has a vested interest in understanding the company’s long-term plans. Some of the M&A reporters won’t write immediately and that’s okay. Your purpose in speaking to them is to give them context so when the company starts to announce acquisitions, they understand how it fits within the overall strategy.

To prepare the pitch cocktail, the base ingredient will be the company’s history, including the steps that got it to where it is today, why it’s relevant, and how it has impacted the market. To this, you might want to add a little bit about what is missing from the market today and how the company is addressing this gap. To sweeten it a little, could add how the company plans to build the company to ensure it has the team, support, and technology needed to close the gap. To add a bit of spice, adding a little information about how the company will leverage the acquisition strategy to vertically integrate its manufacturing or supply chain process, knowing that these are key issues impacting the industry right now. Finally, garnish the pitch with something unexpected, maybe a twist of lemon instead of a traditional cherry and allude to how these acquisitions are setting the stage for the company’s next move. The precise mix is up to you, use all or just of few of these ingredients based on what is happening with the company, its market, and team.

Once a reporter has taken a sip, and that’s really all the pitch is intended to do, you’ll need to include a variety of other ingredients that can be served up during the interview. These will include information on the company’s team, partners, customers, and other parts of its ecosystem that support the company’s ability to successfully leverage this strategy to grow and win in the marketplace.

These pitches are designed to appeal to specific reporters’ tastes and will likely need to be modified based on what the reporter has written, who they have covered, and any relevant issues or interests they have at the time of the pitch. That’s at the heart of the Storyology approach, and the value of having a Storyologist on your team is that they will know their customers well and be able to help serve up the right cocktail every time.

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