How Nat Geo Pitched Me With A Hat (Tips To Successfully Pitch A Blogger)

by Patrick on March 26, 2010

x2_ea0185I’m not a hat person.

Sure I have a Red Sox hat, I’m a Bostonian for life. Sure I also have a Nationals hat, I need something to cover my face when I’m watching the Nats lose 100 games.

Generally though I don’t like wearing a hat for extended periods, if you ever go to a baseball game with me you’ll see me wear my hat all from the Metro all the way to our seats, and then promptly take it off to use as a bowl for all my gadgets.

This week however I’m sporting a new hat thanks to the guys at National Geographic. Earlier this month they sent me a press kit for the launch of their new channel: National Geographic Wild. Now this wasn’t a plain e-mail with attached press releases, it was a heavy duty kit.

It came in a rather large box decorated with colorful photos of animals. Inside I found press releases, a set of photo postcards, a photobook, DVD screeners, and a barrel of monkeys.

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The contents of my NatGeo media kit

No really it was  NatGeo-theme barrel of monkeys, I can’t wait to bust it out at the next house party. It’ll be a hoot!

Last but certainly not least was the hat. I put it on while examining the rest of the kit’s contents and I noticed that it fit rather well and felt more comfortable than a baseball cap. I also commented that it made me look like a jungle-bound viet-cong soldier.

What? Too soon? It’s ok I’m Vietnamese- I can totally joke about the war. Just not in front of my parents.

Due to the recent weather I found myself wearing the hat out the next couple of days. As I type this blog the hat sits on the table next to my netbook.

In the time that I’ve been city captain for DC Metblogs, I’m constantly sent releases and pitches from PR agencies, organizations, bands, and even my own co-workers. One time Jim Beam sent me whiskey in hopes I would write something. Of course I graciously sampled it but in the end there’s nothing DC about a new whiskey.

The NatGeo package was by far the biggest, fanciest package I’ve received to date. I wouldn’t say it was the most prestigious, I once received a DVD from Melora Hardin (Jan from The Office.) Should of asked her to sign it.

Next week over at DC Metblogs I will write up Nat Geo’s new channel. National Geographic is a big organization in DC and as a video producer I have a natural interest in what’s going on around the airwaves.

So does it take a fancy media package to attract my attention? Not necessarily. Here are some successful ways I’ve been pitched by flacks.

  1. Give me free access. I have a good relationship with Ford’s Theatre, this week I wrote up their latest production of Little Shop of Horrors to which I was given two free tickets. I took my pal Carolyn and we had a great time. Ford’s Theatre recognized that besides being a major DC venue, I was personally a theatre fan and stage manager; so when they offered me the chance to see a technical rehearsal and see what a real professional production looks like I jumped at the opportunity.
  2. Introduce me to famous people. Lots of people will offer me interviews with spokespeople and company directors, but I usually pass. However I couldn’t say no at the chance to talk to Richard Linklater or to take photos of LeBron James. When MTV recognized that I was paying attention to The Real World DC, they offered me the chance to talk to cast members and I couldn’t of been more excited.
  3. Offer me more than a press release. Last week a band e-mailed me about being featured on The Real World DC, with the hopes I’d write something up. While I wasn’t interested in writing an entire post about them, they offered an mp3 of the song that will be featured in the season finale and I gladly accepted. I figured if I listen to the song and like it- I’ll mention it in my recap that week.
  4. Entertain me, or at least get me drunk. Hey if receptions works for Hill staffers, it’ll work for bloggers. Last summer the WGA was holding an exclusive comedy event featuring writers from all the late-night shows. They offered me access to the reception which included an open bar and comedy show. I laughed, had fun, and met some interesting writers.
  5. Make it something odd or cool. A bus tour of DC? Boring, touristy, and mundane. A bus tour showing you all the places that have been in films? Kinda cool. A hamburger eating contest? Awesome. These stories were pitched with the angle that it was definitely out of the ordinary and cool.

So what does it take to effectively pitch me?

  1. Offer me something free
  2. Leverage any kind of celebrity you have
  3. Make your pitch more than a simple word document
  4. Entertain me
  5. Make it cool

Most importantly however,you should know who I am and what I do. I don’t run DC Metblogs like The Washington Post, I’m not a newspaper. I like to write on DC topics that interest me: a video producer/stage manager/blogger. If you see all the examples above, each pitch interested one of my many sides.

Now this isn’t a magic formula to what really guarantee results- if I knew that I’d be the best Flack Rabbit in the world. However it is a good place to start, but sometimes the weirdest things interest bloggers- because each of us are different and individual.

So congrats to NatGeo, they have a crack person handling digital media. She knows what I’m interested in and isn’t offended when I pass on most things. She provided me with a comprehensive media package that impressed me and kept my interest and made the story relevant to who I am, a DC blogger that enjoys film and theatre.

However she probably didn’t realize I would like the hat so much.  That helped as well.

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