1. Offer Information of Value – Does your product or service offer something that’s unique and of value to your target audience? If so, it might be of interest to the media. It’s not about you or your business, it’s about what you or your business can do for others. What can you offer the public? Four questions to ask yourself before you approach a media person are:
What makes my business special and unique?
Why am I different from my competitors?
Why are my clients purchasing my product or service?
How does my business tie into a current trend?
If you can answer these questions easily, in a clear, concise way, then you are well on your way to being able to pitch a journalist.
2. Do your research beforehand – Make sure that you are familiar with the media outlet and that you are pitching the correct person. Addressing the right person signals that you are familiar with the subject area that a particular journalist covers. Read their work before you contact them so that you know how you would best fit.
3. Be professional and establish credibility – Approach the journalist in a friendly way, but don’t be overly casual or familiar. Let them know who you are and why you are contacting them. Be respectful of their time and know that they get hundreds of phone calls and emails each day. Introduce yourself, get to the point quickly and then ask if they would like you to follow-up with additional information.
4. Use their preferred method of communication – Always ask a journalist how they prefer to be contacted. If they ask you to email information, don’t badger them with phone calls. Once you have taken the time to develop a relationship with a journalist, it will be easier to pick up the phone to them at a moment’s notice and get a response.
5. Tie your news into a trend or community issue – If you have a product or service that ties into current news of a change taking place in our society or an evolving trend that is being covered, you will have a much better chance of getting a journalist’s attention.
6. Be subtle – Media people are in the business of producing news, not producing sales for your business. Your communications with the media should not be an obvious bid for free advertising. Focus on how your product or service can help their readers/viewers, not it’s features.
7. Don’t be sloppy – Check your news releases for typos and grammatical errors. Make sure you spell the journalist’s name and their outlet correctly.
8. Make it easy for reporters to cover you – Before approaching a journalist with a pitch, make sure you are ready to provide them with all of the information they need if they ask for it. A complete press kit (company profile, bio, fact sheet, press releases, images etc.) and/or a robust online media room are a great place to start.
9. Follow-up, but don’t be pushy – You want reporters to see you as the solution to their problems – not as a problem. If you have sent information, but haven’t heard anything back, one follow- up call and email is fine, calling five times a day is not. You will have ample opportunity to pitch them again. Courtesy and respect go a long way here – you want to be in the relationship for the long haul, which leads me to our final tip.
10. View the relationship as long-term, not as a one hit wonder – Keep the information flowing between you. Don’t just send an occasional press release – pick up the phone to call the reporter if they wrote a feature you particularly liked and let them know it. Keep sending in good ideas for stories every few weeks – not just about your business, but about your field or industry. Over time, make it your goal to become a valuable source of information and a trusted, well-liked and respected business person.
Do you want even more information on how to effectively work with the press? Download the recording of my SheBrand Superstar call with guest expert, Lisa Elia, on how to become a media darling. Click here to sign up for the audio recording now!
©Liz Dennery Sanders 2011