For PR professionals, surveys create relevance and can provide your pitches with a timely hook. Statistics gleaned from surveys give PR pros that extra dose of credibility and allow us to delve into our hunches, those trends we know in our gut must be trends, but often don’t have the facts and figures to back them up.
However, pitching surveys can be, well, similar to facing down a herd of Walkers. (For those not in the know, Walkers = Zombies in AMC’s hit show “The Walking Dead.”)
There is never a guarantee when you conduct a survey that the statistics will be newsworthy, just like there is no guarantee you’ll make it passed a herd of zombies alive.
But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from “The Walking Dead” that applies to my daily life as a PR professional, it’s that you can succeed with the right strategic approach.
1. Find your target
When combing through survey results, it’s all about keeping your eye on the target – in this case, that coveted statistic or two that will yield gold (or brains?) when it comes to telling a compelling story.
Just as “The Walking Dead’s” protagonists try to dispatch zombies in their way by working together, so must a PR team band together to sift through results for the best statistics.
2. Roll with the punches
Is there a reporter you recently worked with that may be interested in one of the statistics you’ve uncovered? Keep the conversation moving. “The Walking Dead’s” protagonists are always finding a way to move forward and utilize all resources they come across. When our characters stumbled upon an actual community with walls, well, they didn’t think twice about finding a way to work together with its current inhabitants.
If you’re already working with a few reporters for other pitches, keep the conversation flowing. You never know, they may have something coming up in the pipeline that could be a great fit. Though be careful and be mindful of their time and beat as at the end of the day, it’s all about telling a great story.
3. Infographics tell the bigger picture
Let’s be real – statistics themselves aren’t always sexy.
In “The Walking Dead” the key to presenting any plan usually involves some sort of strategy drawn on a map or in the dirt. For those not in the know, this usually gets our main protagonist to convince the others to follow him into some form of danger, with some success minus a few casualties.
Let’s face it – the mass majority of people are visual learners. In PR, it’s our job to lay out the plan and statistics in an easy-to-digest manner. In this case, charts or infographics are a great way to do just that.
4. Keep it simple
When one finishes watching an episode of “The Walking Dead,” they usually come away knowing three key tips for survival:
- Don’t get bitten
- Don’t get killed
- Aim for the head
Sure, your survey may have some interesting statistics on millennials, boomers and families, but which of those is really the most important to the audience you’re targeting? Keep it simple and you’ll have the most success.
When sending a survey pitch to a reporter they should come away feeling these three things:
- This PR Pro totally gets what I like to write!
- I have to tell this story
- What else do they have for me?
5. Just let it die
No matter what you do, there’s usually that one statistic in your survey that you know, in your gut, just won’t make it. Sometimes you have to make the tough choice and leave it be – there’s no reason to prolong its death by actually pitching it.
Our “The Walking Dead” protagonists never waste their time playing hero. They know right away if someone can’t cut it in their world.
As we all know, time in PR and “The Walking Dead” is something there is never enough of.