Except for the player who wants to take a swing at the bat, nobody wants to be pitched; not bloggers, not media, not you, not me.
That is, if pitching means pushing an unwanted interaction with irrelevant information. Who reads every unsolicited email, opens all their junk mail and listens to every robo-call that comes in?
But, what if pitching means sending out a story idea that turns into a feature cover story that’s so good it lands in the reporter’s portfolio?
You know you’re news-worthy so why do your competitors get all the media’s attention?
It’s the same answer as the question “Why didn’t the neighbors invite us to their party last night – everybody else was there?” – either they don’t know about you or they don’t know you well enough to be interested.
Let’s go inside the office of a busy journalist – 400 email pitches per day, at least two phones that ring continually, places to go, people to call, and always, always, always pressing deadlines to meet.
So why would they open a blast email from a strange address and write a glowing cover story about it?
Here’s How to Get the Media to Work for You* . . .
1. Start local
Begin saving copies of every local publication, then visit their site. Be conversant in who covers what and note stories that you like. Reporters appreciate feedback. Call or email them about a story the day it comes out. Is it yours? Tell them how they helped readers, not you. Repeat for local radio and television. You still get online PR coverage when your story is featured on their site.
2. Develop a contact list
Fill in name, publication, address, fax, email, web site and editor or reporter for each beat, including the calendar editor. One story may interest business, calendar, community, lifestyle, news and religion editors. Know how your story appeals to each audience.
3. Find a connection
Are you a blogger? Then you have many things in common with reporters already: you both write, cover a ‘beat” and have readers who respond. While the reporter may have an editor and you don’t, as a blogger you understand the need for relevancy, timeliness, honesty and what makes a great story.
3. Introduce yourself
When a new editor comes into town, call and introduce yourself and your area of expertise. They’ll feel welcomed and know that they have a connector to news. Contacting a new publication? Make sure you have the right connection, tell them how your story will benefit their readers and ask if it’s okay to send them a link to your site’s media center. Bloggers, be sure to tell them how to get your latest posts via an RSS feed or email.
4. Send a media kit
Even in this electronic, paperless world, reporters on the run appreciate a media kit. A simple folder holding a brochure, copy of the press release, contact information and a fact sheet gives them a ready resource. More elaborate media kits might include a book, DVD, CD, photos and a product sample. Keep in mind that more is less and start out with the basics. As you build to bigger media outlets with larger audiences, your media kit can evolve. A one-page guide with links and key facts is an all-purpose solution. Bloggers, put together a page that lists posts they may want to refer to or read.
5. Contribute ideas
Now that they know you, stay in touch. Email comments on stories, make suggestions, point out how you relate to trends and comment on their blog. Sending a letter to the editor is one way to make it in without going through an interview. Or, write a post about their story and ask them to comment.
6. Stay in touch
Connect with your core group every few months or so. You never know when they’ll want to write about you – or if you’re a blogger, when you’ll want to write about them. Update them on your most popular posts and the ones that generated the most controversy.
7. Expand your scope
Once you’ve saturated your local media, it’s time to move on to larger outlets. Now you know what stories stick and how to talk to reporters. Put together a dream list of publications you’d like to be featured in. Then, go back and follow these steps. Start at the top.
When a client once asked me to call the leading publication in their industry, we got lucky. A new editor wanted something different. She welcomed reader contributions and guided me on how to write for their publication. Surprisingly, she suggested that we pitch the story more in my client’s direction. A reporter’s job is to write stories that people want to read. What’s special about your story?
Bad Pitch PR covers the worst of the worst, but also offers ways to create recipes for “everlasting gobstopper” news releases.
9. Study Google News and Yahoo! News
Search for what’s making news in your corner and then let reporters know about your take on the trends.
10. Post your releases in your online newsroom
Whether you set up one blog post to capture all of your links, add a page to your blog or dedicate a page on your site, make your news easy to find and simple to read. When reporters visit, they’ll know that you’re a serious source with a steady stream of information. And, readers and prospects will be impressed by a collection of captivating releases. For a how-to and an online newsroom guide download, read Shel Holtz’s post about what’s in most online newsrooms. It’s more for corporations, but you will find some good takeaways for any blogger or business.
11. Celebrate and spread good news
Announce achievements that benefit you, your readers or your clients – make sure your news is relevant, not promotional. Read Wired PR Work’s 300th post press release.
12. Study with someone who can help you get where you want to go fast.
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If you need a speaker, check into *”How to Get the Media to Work for You,” my public relations workshop speech for bloggers and business owners
Ask questions – thanks to a reader for suggesting I write about how to pitch the media, a topic I’d like to explore more in-depth.
What works for you when you pitch the media? Never reached out the media? What can I tell you more about?