I’ve received two pitches from officebroker.com this week, from two separate PR agencies – the company is clearly putting some serious investment into its PR work. But is it getting good value for its money? I’ve taken a look at one of those pitches and offer here four things I like about it and four ideas for improving it.
“hi, would you like to do something on officebroker.com? Market leaders at finding workspace deals for businesses.
Company began 10 years ago founded by Jim Venables and Andy Haywood. Turnover is now £6m.
Story is how they’ve become the biggest in the serviced office sector by bringing in a sales led business model.
Previously the market for commercial property was dominated by chartered surveyor led consultants (much like King Sturge who are also our clients).
Jim is a former market stall trader and Andy used to import cars. They met while working together in a recruitment business.
They brought that commercial nouse to bear in growing their business. They have also benefitted during the recession as companies have looked to save costs and hunt for better deals on accommodation.
The guys have expaned aggressively. They have around 80 people in their HQ in Tamworth and have opened offices in USA and Australia.
Andy moved over the the US to help run the operation there. They chose Dallas, Texas as a base saying it’s Central time zone location has helped them get a foot in both the East and West coast markets.
They have around 20 staff in the US now and around half that number in Australia. So worldwide staff count is around 110.
Let me know if you think you could use them for a feature.
FOUR THINGS I LIKE ABOUT IT:
1) They get straight to the point. Far too many pitches start off with unnecessary waffle, asking how I am (even though I’ve never met the sender), going into minute detail about the company, or giving a supposedly interesting but unrelated intro. This pitch gets right into it, asking if I’d like to write something about officebroker.com, telling me very briefly who they are, and then summarising the story.
2) It’s well targeted. I write for the SME press, so this is very much my area.
3) It’s given me clear facts and figures. Rather than being coy about its size in the hope that I’ll assume the company is bigger than it is, they’ve been direct and open, telling me its turnover and how many staff it employs. This helps me build a picture of the company, and get a feel for where I could use the story.
4) They’ve used short sentences. This does a great deal to make a piece of writing readable.
FOUR WAYS IT COULD BE IMPROVED
1) I have a name. Why not use it? Presumably because this was a blanket e-mail to dozens or hundreds of journalists. Immediately that makes me less interested in the pitch.
2) Nouse is spelt nous. Benefitted should be benefited. Expaned should be expanded. That is three basic spelling errors in a fairly short piece of writing. Looking at the grammar, it’s should be its…….you get the picture. Journalists spot these things. It makes us assume that the writer is either stupid or unprofessional. Neither make us keen to pursue the pitch. More likely these were typos. They happen. I frequently make them, especially in e-mail conversations. But this wasn’t a conversation – it was a blanket e-mail sent to dozens, maybe hundreds, of journalists. Shouldn’t the sender have removed these typos?
3) There’s too much irrelevant detail. Having outlined the story, they go on to tell me about where one of the partners went to work, why they chose the location they did, and specific employee numbers for each branch. It feels a bit like they were trying to fill in space at the end, or they thought they’d chuck a few more facts at me in the hope that one would stick.
4) They’ve not shown me why my readers should be interested in this story. They’ve given me a lot of facts and they’ve told me a story. They’re strong facts and it’s a compelling story, but for a journalist whose job is to inform or entertain readers that’s not enough. The very best pitches show the journalist exactly why his or her readers will be interested in this story. It’s a difficult thing to do, and that’s why very few succeed – however, it is what marks out the great pitches from the merely ok ones.
So, is officebroker.com getting value for money? I can’t tell you. I don’t know how much they’re spending for this PR service. And who knows – they might have got lucky and hit some journalists just at the point they were keen to run a story like this. Next week we might not be able to open a paper or a website for stories about officebroker.com. I hope that is the case – after all this was far from a bad pitch. Believe me, I’ve seen much worse!
I can though say with some confidence that this pitch could have been improved. What do you think?