Chances are your news-worthy event isn’t as exciting as base jumping for charity, breaking the world’s record for the longest underwater kiss (which IS a thing!), or eating your weight in ice cream for climate change awareness. (And if it is, call us!!) Even so, your news is exciting and it will likely be exciting to others as well, including those who cover related topics for media outlets. Here are some tips for researching, crafting, and distributing the perfect message to entice media contacts to cover you.
Step one: Make sure your news is actually news, not just a recap of the services you provide. Tie the pitch (as we in PR call the story we are trying to get covered) to a unique and compelling event, growth milestone, or new development. Even better, especially if you’re targeting general news outlets, tie your pitch to something that’s currently happening or trending. That’s a good strategy for making your event or story relevant to a larger audience.
Target your outreach. Sure, you want to end up on the Today Show, but you can’t start there. Begin with local media and niche publications that are most related to your business and your pitch…then build out from there, creating a long list of positive press, accolades, and social proof as you go.
Okay, you’ve got your idea, your angle and you know your audience (and their audience). Time to write a really compelling pitch. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Get to the point quickly: your very busy media contact has approximately 2 seconds, if that, to assess the information you’ve sent.
- Stay focused: sure, your thing is great in lots of ways, but focus on the angle that’s best for the audience you’re pitching.
- Know your audience’s audience and explain why your event, product, or news is a good fit.
- Provide a newsworthy headline in your subject line.
- Avoid industry lingo if you’re pitching outside your industry.
Essentially, do the work for the reporter on the other end! The closer your pitch resembles the article it might become, the easier you’ve made a reporter’s life and the more likely you’ll get covered.
Next, send it. Two things will land you directly in the junk folder: spam-worthy headlines and attachments. Despite your bet instincts and intentions, do not include attachments. Instead, provide links to your full press release and a designated spot on your site where high-resolution photos are available for download. Craft your subject line carefully and avoid words and phrases that might be interpreted as spam.
Then, follow up. And don’t forget that a key part of this exercise is developing relationships and expanding your network. Maybe a reporter is too busy now…but they’ll remember you the next time you send them something AND your gracious response when they told you no the first time. If you’re convinced that your news is the perfect fit for an outlet, consider contacting someone else at the magazine/newspaper/etc. But use this technique sparingly and carefully, especially if you’re hoping to establish a long-term relationship.
Finally, don’t take rejection personally. The good news: you likely won’t get a lot of nos in your inbox. Instead, there will be a great and looming silence. Most reporters are too busy to email you back to tell you no, so instead you won’t hear anything. Do not lose heart. Follow up anyway (without badgering), and then move on…and keep that particular outlet in mind for next time. The next time you contact them, you’ll have plenty of good, positive press to share–and that may help you be taken more seriously the second time around.
With that, friends, you’re prepped and ready to begin building the media connections necessary to get your news covered by media outlets. Take notes as you go about what’s working, what’s not, and what you may consider trying for future outreach. And, most importantly, keep it all in perspective: like all of your marketing efforts, public relations is a marathon not a sprint.
If you have an idea for a pitch, but you feel you could use some help refining it and getting it out to the media, give us a call. We’d love to help you finish the marathon!