I know you dread it. But sooner or later, if you’re serious about getting publicity, you’ll have to pick up the phone and pitch a reporter on your story.
It doesn’t have to hurt. Not if you follow these simple tips.
1. Ask permission.
You wouldn’t call your best friend and then start ranting when she picks up the phone. Same thing with reporters. Show that you respect their time. Before diving into your pitch, ask them, “”Do you have time for a story pitch?”
If they say yes, then great. If they say no, then ask when would be a better time.
2. Be brief and to the point.
Just because a journalist has given you permission to take up their time doesn’t mean you should go on and on. They’re busy, just like you and me.
So very briefly, tell them who you are and what you have to offer them. You don’t need to spend five minutes giving a backgrounder on who you are and what your business is all about.
3. Tailor your pitch.
When you call, make sure you have the correct reporter’s name and media outlet in front of you. It’s easy to get names mixed up when you’re making one call after another. Don’t refer to the journalist’s “readers” when you’re talking to a broadcaster.
Also, make it clear why your story would be interesting or relevant to the journalist’s audience. Why would their reader/listener/viewer care about your story? Show you’re familiar with their newspaper, magazine, radio program or TV station, what audiences they reach out to, and the type of stories they like. This makes their job easier and makes you look like the thoughtful, PR-savvy entrepreneur you are.
4. Be helpful.
If the journalist isn’t interested in your pitch, it’s ok to ask what they’re currently working on and to offer whatever helpful information or leads you may have.
Don’t be selfish. Help them in any way you can–even if it won’t directly benefit your business in any way. This positions you as a source of information… hopefully one they’ll call on again and again.
5. Respond promptly.
Sometimes, the call will end with a journalist requesting you for more information or additional materials. Always send these promptly. Ask them what their deadline is, and respond ahead of the deadline.
If you can’t get the information to them on time, let them know. They’re going to respect you a lot more than if you leave them hanging.
Finally, don’t give up. If the editor isn’t interested right now, it doesn’t mean she won’t be interested next time you call. Don’t take things personally. Stay positive. Keep on the lookout for stories you can tie into your own business, and keep trying until you succeed.
PS: For more on pitching to journalists on the phone, including a detailed script you can follow, check out “How to Do Your Own PR.”
Image from Crestock Stock Images
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.
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