When you’re trying to get some attention for your project by pitching it to the traditional press, or bloggers, or film review sites, or whomever, it really helps to personalize the pitch. Canned pitches are at best, given a cursory glance; at worst, seen as a turn off.
Case in point: As the end of the fall college semester draws near, I’ve been receiving e-mails from college students inquiring about internship opportunities. (For the record, I’m not taking on interns at this time, but if you’re a college student with a cool blog that covers the entertainment industry or reviews films, let’s talk. I may be interested in connecting with you on the next film I’m repping.) These e-mails I get are basically pitches. The students attempt to pitch themselves to me, their skills, enthusiasm, talent, their fantastic work ethic, and so on. Some of them do a pretty good job of personalizing the pitch. I can tell, when I read their cover letter, that they’ve taken the time to read on my website, learn a little about what we do, maybe even do some reading on my blog, and then tailor their pitch accordingly. They address the letter to me, by name. They personalize it.
Then there are the cover letters that arrive addressed to “Whom it may concern.” Are you kidding me? They’ve gotten my e-mail address and the name of my agency (which happens to include my name) and yet they don’t know to whom their pitch may concern? Come on. That’s just a lazy, canned pitch. My response? I hit the delete key.
The same principles apply to publicity pitches for film. It pays to make the investment of time and effort to learn a little about who you’re going to pitch your film to for coverage. Chris Thilk of Movie Marketing Madness very eloquently makes this point in his pitching guidelines:
Drop me a line and introduce yourself personally before pitching me. I think it’s just polite. You don’t go up to people on the street and immediately launch into the middle of a conversation. You say hello first. Same rules apply.
Making a personal connection with the person or organization you’re pitching is vital. You want them to feel that you understand something about them, where they’re coming from, what their interests and priorities are. What you don’t want them to feel is that you’ve bought an e-mail address database from some direct-marketing company. Canned pitches that read like spam are treated like spam.
So even if you have bought a list of 500 journalists, bloggers, critics, and reviewers (and personally, I can think of several other ways to more effectively spend your money), make the effort to figure out which ones are the better fit for the project you’re pitching, and then take some time to personalize your pitch to each one. Introduce yourself. Say hello.