I once interviewed a reporter and asked her how many emails and voicemails she gets on a daily basis. The answer is…a lot. Traditional media – reporters, TV and radio producers – are deluged with inquiries, press releases and story pitches. Many of them thrive on being busy, work on more than one story at a time, and are often on deadline.
That’s not to say they don’t want to hear from you. Here are 5 things you should know:
1. Journalists need a reason to do a story NOW (not tomorrow) – if you can answer the questions, “why you?” and “why now?” you’ll get their attention. Do you have a good story or product for Father’s Day? That was one of our big holiday pitches when we had our socks by subscription company. Are you a coach who can offer tips on How to Survive Valentine’s day without having a partner in your life?
2. Journalists are interested in what is new or controversial - most of you won’t have earth-shattering news, but the media want to feel like they are giving people the latest information on solving a particular problem. If there is a controversy brewing in the media, how can you tie-in your business to what is ‘hot’?
3. Journalists are serving a particular audience - how will your story be serving their audience? At the end of the day if journalists don’t have stories that attract people’s attention, advertisers won’t be advertising in their magazine/paper/station and eventually they will be out of business. Come from a mindset of being of service to their readers.
4. Journalists tend to be skeptical – it’s their job to question what comes their way. They want to make sure things work and that the facts you provide are correct. They may not take your word for it. Having customers that will speak on your behalf can be helpful in overcoming objections.
5. At the end of the day, the media want to tell a great story. The more you can help them, the easier you make it for them to tell a great story, the more publicity you’ll get. Whatever story you are pitching, ask yourself “who cares?” What’s the boldest, most outrageous or provocative statement you are willing to make? What specifically are the benefits people receive from hearing about your company?
If you understand what the media are looking for, you will quickly stand out from the crowd and get your story heard.
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies, which she's also using for her own bling flip flop company.
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