Pleasantly Persistent PR Blog
How to Create a Marketing Hook
June 17, 2020
In today's media-saturated, 24-hour-news environment, a "slow news day" is a thing of the nostalgic past. The competition is fierce to have your story picked up by a significant media platform. To get featured, you have to know how to pitch. While most of the pitches I do are for authors and speakers, the basic rules of pitching are the same regardless of the product type.
Pitching a product, much like a great pop song, is all about the hook.
What's a Hook?
Very simply, a hook is presenting your story in an engaging way that generates interests from your target audience. When pitching to media outlets, your audience will typically be producers or journalists. Media pitches are usually done by email and often include imagery - a picture, gif, infographic, or video - in addition to the text.

Hone the Messaging
The first step in how to pitch a marketing hook is honing your messaging. You should be able to compellingly and accurately describe your story or product in a sentence or two. This is also known as an "elevator pitch." In keeping the description concise, you're forced to hone in on the most significant aspects of your product and what sets it apart from the competition.

Start by developing an elevator pitch, if you haven't already. An elevator pitch is a great starting point for all messaging types, from media pitches to everyday conversations.

Research Media Outlets
Before you email blast your pitch, you need to research the media outlets you are targeting. Media channels, shows and journalists concentrate on niche topics, specific markets, or areas of interest. Identify outlets and journalists that would report on your story or product type.

For example, if you have written a non-fiction book about a historical person important to your city's history, your local news station would be a natural choice for featuring your book. A tech podcast or financial reporter would not be a good fit for promoting your book.
Find an Angle
You have already identified what is most engaging about your project by creating an elevator pitch - great! Now you need to find an angle.

Media outlets chase topics that already have a big buzz, or novel stories that can set a trend. Keep abreast of the latest news in your industry, as well as what is being reported by your targeted media outlets. But don't just absorb what is being reported. Try and foresee what are news-worthy stories that resonate within your industry and targeted media outlets.

If you can attune to your targeted audience's preferences, developing an angle will be easy. An angle takes your elevator pitch and puts a twist on it by connecting your project to your target audience. Remember: an angle is attention-grabbing and relevant to both your audience and your project.

When pitching to most news outlets - including newspapers and cable news - your angle will almost always be about breaking news and trends. For example, the spring of 2020 was dominated by COVID-19 coverage. As a book publicist, I had to get creative in finding ways to connect my author's books to COVID news. Creatively developing angles does not mean throwing out authenticity or being disingenuous. The connection between the trending news and the product has to be there.

A few examples of creative angles during COVID
* For Den Bishop, author of The Voter's Guide to Healthcare, I was pitching him to discuss how recently unemployed workers can sign up for COBRA, Medicaid, or Obamacare.

* For William Craig Reed, US Navy Vet and author of Spies of the Deep, I was pitching him to talk about how easily the coronavirus spread among the USS Roosevelt.

If you are hard pressed to find trending news and topics related to your product, look at the calendar. There are plenty of holidays and seasonal rituals that get attention the same time every year, year in and year out. There are also days and months of remembrance and recognition that you might not be aware of that make for a compelling pitch. For example, I used National PTSD Awareness Month (June) as part of my pitch for a client, Scott Huesing. He is a New York Times bestselling author of Echo in Ramadi and retired USMC infantry major with PTSD experience.
Show and Tell
I touched on this at the beginning, but it's worth exploring: your email to news outlets should usually contain an image with the text. Your email pitch is more likely to get eyes on it, and your story is significantly more likely to get picked up, if you take time to add imagery to your hook.

Just be sure to make the connection obvious between the imagery and the text. Eye-catching imagery is great, so long as it has a clear purpose in telling your story and is connected to your story. Sometimes I simply include a photo of an author. Other times, I will add in video of my author's previous media spots, a picture of their book cover, or a photo of them with somebody of influence. Occasionally I'll include a funny meme, but it has to be relevant to the pitch.

The Secret to the Hook: Persistence

Creating a hook that translates into booked air time is no simple feat. As you can see, a lot of work goes into it. And sometimes a text-book example of how to create a marketing hook loses steam in the media universe. Your pitch is always going to be up against forces bigger than it, and can easily get lost in a sudden shift in the news cycle.

So, my big secret to hook success is follow-up and not giving up. Persistence is as important to killer hooks as creativity and research.
After reading this article on how to create a marketing hook, maybe you aren't up for the task of creating hooks that kill?
Reach out to me today.
I've got decades of experience writing hooks that convert into media time.
Feel free to contact me
Julia Brown
Book publicist
Phone: +1 619-888-7956
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