Want your story in the news media? Read these tips.
“Why weren’t we quoted in that story?”
“Why didn’t get any coverage on our new product launch?”
Sound familiar? I’ve worked with many organizations who want media coverage. But often the people asking for the media stories have no idea how to get them.
Good media coverage helps raise your organization’s brand awareness and attract new buyers. But in the ever-changing media landscape, many companies struggle to get their story told in the media. And a lot of the smaller and medium-sized companies I work with lack a PR agency to help.
Here’s the good news: with a strong message and a little work, you can get your story told in the media. Here are some tips I give my clients.
Solidify your key message
When pitching any reporter, you need a clear, concise consistent message. What’s the best way to create that message? Make a Message Map.
A Message Map gives you clarity, so you see what to say, and say what you mean. You can then use the Message Map for your media pitch as well as for any media interviews you get as a result of your pitch.
Your pitch should be short, simple, and to the point. You want to get the reporter interested enough to contact you to find out more and write a story.
Identify and research relevant media outlets and reporters
Your time will be best spent if you focus on pitching the media outlets your target audience reads. Don’t know where your clients get their news? Ask them.
Once you’ve created your list of media outlets, next identify the correct reporter at each outlet. While it may be tempting to pitch more than one reporter at each outlet – don’t. At least not without letting them know. It would be a waste of time for two reporters at one outlet to answer the same pitch without knowing it was sent to the other.
After you’ve identified your list of reporters, research each one before you pitch. What does the reporter normally cover? What articles have they published recently? Are they on social media? If so, what are their interests? In addition to helping you pitch the right reporter, conducting research before you send your pitch helps you tailor each pitch to the specific reporter.
Make your media pitch interesting and relevant
This may seem obvious, but ensure your pitch is relevant and interesting, both to the reporter and to the media outlet’s readers. If you’ve done your research well, this is easier to do.
Here’s how. Take the pitch you created from your Message Map and adjust it to the specific media outlet or reporter. One way to do this is by relating your pitch to something else the reporter or outlet covered recently. Just make sure you have a new or different angle so that your topic is seen as newsworthy.
Another way to make your pitch relevant is to point out to reporters whyyour topic is important to their audience. When you make what’s in it for the audience clear, you have a much better chance of getting your story told in the media.
Have a product that’s not particularly exciting, but your executives want coverage anyway? Get creative.
Years ago, I worked for a company where our executives wanted coverage on a new product launch. However, those same executives had already mentioned the product at an investor conference a few months earlier, and the media covered the story then.
My coworkers and I knew if we were going to get any coverage at all, we had to get creative. It was a telecommunications company, and the new product would help increase internet bandwidth to companies and consumers.
We conducted a brainstorm session that resulted in my co-worker and I driving around to all the local 7-11 stores. (It helped that our release date was July 11.) We mailed giant Big Gulp cups to reporters with a news release titled, “Company X delivers a big gulp of bandwidth.”
Even though the news was public and media outlets had already covered it, most of the reporters we targeted published a story. The reporters respected our creativity, and sending a physical package made it memorable for them, versus yet another email.
Make your media pitch timely
If possible, tie your pitch to current news or trends in your industry or geography. For example, if you’re pitching a new security solution, you could either pitch it by stating “this is something we need now before the next data breach occurs,” or you could pitch it right after a data breach is in the news by stating, “if only Company X had our solution before this happened.” Just be sure your pitch relates to the news and is not contrived.
The average TV sound bite is about eight seconds. Quotes in printed and online media aren’t much longer. And, most people remember between 17% to 25% of the 20,000 to 30,000 words they hear each day. So to get your story told in the media, you need to keep your pitch, and any interviews you get, short.
Being brief can be difficult, so stick to your Message Map and use positive, shorter words.
Maintain relationships with the media
Whether or not reporters respond to your current pitch, establish and maintain relationships with each reporter. It’s ideal if you can establish a relationship before you first pitch a reporter.
Follow them on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn. If they are local, connect in person over breakfast or lunch to establish a relationship and really learn their interests.
Be helpful for other stories they are writing if you know someone who could be a good source. Suggest topics of interest that don’t directly relate to your company, so you become a trusted source.
While getting your story heard in the news media can seem difficult and time-consuming, following the above tips should help you with brief pitch to hook reporters.
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