As someone in media, I am inundated with pitches all the time. Review this CD! Come to this movie! Write about my client! I can’t write about everything, of course. No journalist can. And getting me to show an interest in something is just the start — there’s no guarantee I’ll like what you’re pitching, or even end up writing about it. But ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
I got two recent pitches, both of which did their jobs in very different ways. One was clever (but didn’t really affect my conduct) and the other that was pointless (and will result only in this blog post).
First, the successful one. Tomorrow, my review of Suburbicon will be published. Truth is, I was always going to see the film if I could; it is directed by George Clooney, stars Matt Damon and Julianne Moore, was co-written by the Coens. Good or bad (and preview: It was good), that’s a lot of interesting starpower you don’t want to resist. So, the fact the studio sent me a press kit was a convenience, but a decision-maker. But most press kits are background write-ups, photos, sometimes a goofy tchotchke (a bag of microwave popcorn, maybe a plastic toy to accompany a superhero movie). But the item for Suburbicon showed an understanding of the film, and a way to tease what was to come.
I usually go into movies as blindly as possible — I don’t read too much about them or watch the trailers. I want to be “fresh.” But the press kit for Suburbicon was a lunch-box; inside it, a pair of (non-prescription) horn-rimmed glasses (the kind Damon wears); packets of peanut butter and jelly; a pill bottle (filled with mints); a rolling pin; a power gripper. Individually, the items made no real sense; collectively, they set the tone: What do they have in common? How will these items tie into the movie.
Truth is, I had totally forgotten about the kit by the time I screened the movie; it was only after the fact that I recalled them, and realized how they piece together in a dark and smart way. By that time, I had already written my review. But it made me appreciate the marketing department for knowing their product and how to sell it.
Then, there’s the other pitch. Knowing your product is one thing; knowing who you are pitching to is the other. I had seen posts on Facebook about a reality TV show that was casting in Dallas called Married at First Sight. Not long after, the representative for the production company email me directly, explaining the series and seeing if I would like to let my readers know about it. “We are searching for singles who are ready to get married and willing to take part in an extraordinary social experiment! Attached please find all necessary information that we would love for you to share with your readers. Thanks so much!”
There was one detail missing. So I wrote to her: “Heterosexuals only, or will you take gays?” asked. Six hours later came her response: “As of now, we are casting for heterosexual couples only.”
So not only did the show not fully appreciate who they were pitching to, they kinda revealed that the show isn’t really inclusive. I mean, they didn’t even leave open the possibility of gay contestants. Which says a lot about their product… and a lot about their marketing…
— Arnold Wayne Jones