A Softer Sell
Is your pitch too promotional? Find a newsworthy trend
that makes your product part of the story... Perfect
There’s nothing inherently wrong with pitching a cool product,
since media love gadgets. But sometimes a journalist wants a trend to go along with the gadget so the story doesn’t
look like an ad. Here’s how David Reich, president of Reich Communications in New York, retooled his pitch to
meet a TV reporter’s requirements.
Background: Reich was pushing a product called Pac Back, a backpack-like device that allows parents to carry unwieldy child car
seats on their backs. (It was invented by the owner of a luggage manufacturer who saw his daughter struggle to transport her
child’s car seat.) Reich figured it had a good chance of succeeding as a stand-alone pitch.
“Now with the new security at airports, friends and family can’t
go with you to the airport gate, so it’s even harder to carry child seats,” he explains. With a travel-season
angle in mind for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, Reich pitched the product to a producer contact at WCBS-TV in New York.
“She said it was too commercial and self-serving,” Reich
relates. However, the producer was intrigued enough to keep a dialogue going about the pitch, if Reich could come up with
an angle that wasn’t so product-specific.
Reich called a contact at the New York office of the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration, and found an expert on car-seat safety. The expert told him that 60 percent of parents don’t
install car seats properly. Bingo! He had a safety angle that would allow for a broader pitch.
“I came back to her with a complete segment package on child car
seat safety,” Reich explains. “I said that I could bring in an expert who could show viewers how to properly use
car seats, and we also got two children to use for the live in-studio demo. Once the producer had a segment that she felt
was truly informational rather than promotional, she agreed to end the segment with a brief aside about a neat new product
that allows parents to carry the car seats hands-free.”
Reich says the news program’s host actually tried on the Pac Back
and noted that it was comfortable to wear. As a bonus, the station also provided a link on its Web site to Pac Back’s