Let’s say you have a great press release or story pitch to send to media. The next step is to get it in front of reporters, editors, producers and bloggers. How do you ensure that it connect with them and increase your chances of media coverage?
Here are four step to effectively connect with media and give your pitch the best chance to attract their attention.
1. Find media outlets and/or reporters that are a match for your pitch
You might have a really great story but unless you find the right media outlet or reporter to connect with, your pitch won’t be effective. A good place to start is to ask what audience you are trying to reach. Customers? Investors? The general public?
Knowing the answer to this question will help you determine where to pitch and how to customize it so it connects. For example, if you make a laptop and want to increase consumer sales, then approaching bloggers who write about consumer technology would be a good fit. If you are in B2B, then approaching trade magazines within your clients’ industry is a great strategy.
Once you find the right outlet, the next step is to determine who is the best person to approach. For example, some technology reporters focus on consumer products while others are interested in business solutions. Just because both are “technology” reporters, doesn’t mean they’ll be interested in your story. Reporters often complain about being pitched with story ideas that are simply not relevant to the topics or areas that they cover.
Looking at previous articles or news pieces reporters have worked on can give hints into their interests and are often easily found online. Almost all reporters tweet these days too which can give further hints. Check what they have done most recently in particular. If they just did a story about a competitor, you might not want to approach them as another company that does the same thing. Come up with a different angle.
2. Take a customized approach
I usually recommend sending an email to media before making a follow up call the next business day if there is no response. Customize this email as much as possible. You can make reference to what they’ve reported on in the past and show how your story idea builds on their interest in the topic. Mass emails aren’t usually effective. At least put the person’s name at the beginning of the email.
3. Tell them what you want
When you approach media staff by phone or email, get straight to the point. Tell them who you are, your story and what you can offer them (e.g. an opportunity to speak with your company’s CEO). You don’t have to butter them up or get super-friendly. Just hit them with your story.
Reporters are very busy with tight deadlines and don’t have a ton of time to speak when you call. If they’re interested, they’ll let you know probably within about 30 seconds. Calling mid-morning is ideal. By the afternoon, many reporters and editors work on a deadline to finish what they’re working on by the end of the day, and won’t have the time or patience to talk.
4. Give the reporter space to accept or decline the opportunity
Once you finished speaking, let the reporter say what he or she thinks. If they interrupt with a question, answer it. If they say they want to set something up, stop your pitch. Immediately move onto setting up the logistics of the interview (time, date, who will call who). If the reporter doesn’t agree to do the story, be respectful. It’s fine to ask questions but you should treat the reporter or editor with deference. Not everyone is going to think your story is good and there could several reasons that you won’t be aware of. Maintain a good relationship whatever the response as you might want to approach this contact in the future.
Having a great pitch is integral to getting media coverage but knowing how to approach reporters, editors, producers and bloggers is just as important. Follow these tips and you’ll greatly improve your chances of gaining media coverage.