When I worked as a news reporter our newsroom would get dozens of press releases a day. Many of them were missing important information, way too long to read, or were just plain awful. Others, were well written, got right to the point and had a compelling story. Guess who got the coverage?
Pitching to the media is so much more than writing a press release and hitting the send button. It requires tons of research, brainstorming and effective writing. Here’s some tips on how to get your story told.
Is it Newsworthy?
You may think that everyone wants to hear about your new unique product, but sometimes it’s just not that interesting…sorry. You have to pitch a story, not a product. Give reporters a compelling story to tell. Tie it into current events, the holiday or relevant things going on in the community.
Write a Killer Headline
Media professionals get hundreds of press releases and pitches. They are on deadline and don’t have time to read your 2 page press release. You have about 5 seconds to get the assignment editor, producer or reporters attention. Make your subject and headline compelling so they’ll want to continue reading and set up an interview.
Secondly, get to the point. Again, like everyone else, our media friends are busy. Tell your story in the first paragraph. If it’s well written, they’ll read on.
And lastly, please don’t use exclamation points!!! That does not make reporters want to do your story more.
Do Your Homework
Know what media outlet you are pitching to. You need to take the time to research the publication, blog or news outlets. Send fitness stories to health and wellness media outlets, not a high tech publication. You’d be surprised how many times this happens.
Know your Reporter
This is a tough one, because it does take a lot of work. Don’t just send a press release to 100 news outlets and hope that someone picks up the story. Take the time to personalize your email to the specific editor or reporter. Watch or read their stories. Know what their interests are etc. Start off your email like, “I loved your recent article on xyz.” or “I follow you on Twitter and see you have a passion for traveling. Your recent trip looked amazing.” This shows them that you actually took the time to read their articles, watch their reports and follow them on social media. This goes a long way, believe me.
Just because you haven’t heard back from the reporters or assignment editors doesn’t mean it’s over. Just like us, they are super busy. Your email may still be in their in-box or they haven’t had time to get back to you. Pick up the phone. Yes, the phone. We are so used to email, but honestly a phone conversation goes a long way. Always start your conversation by asking them if they have a moment. Then get right to the point. You would be amazed how many new contacts you will make just by picking up the phone. There is something to be said about having an actual conversation.
When I meet with clients, their number one goal is to go national. I can’t tell you how many times I hear, “I just want to make it on the Today Show.” I get it, making it national proves that you’ve “made it.” I am not saying that The Today Show is impossible, but for many – you must start small. If you have a compelling enough story, product, video and a really good pr team… you have a chance. Just be realistic.