In my former life as a journalist, I’ve deleted and binned more press releases than I care to remember. The number of times I ended up interviewing a so-called ‘expert’ offered by a PR company can be counted on one hand.
Now that I’m on the other end of the table, my insight into the media and nose for news enable me to help entrepreneurs and small business owners to get noticed by the media – in a positive way of course.
These days everyone can write their own news on the internet, but writing an opinion piece or feature or getting quoted in a well-respected paper or website, is still one of the best ways of building your profile as a credible authority in your field.
Here are my tips for getting your name in the news
Think news first
Find something in your company, product, story that is newsworthy – not from your point of view, but from a journalist’s point of view.
If you can add a fresh angle to something that’s already in the news, you’re likely to find a willing ear.
For example, the day after a national survey about working mums’ guilt appeared in the media, I approached a parenting website on behalf of Inspired Mums, a career coach – offering a guest blog post with tips for working mums on how to banish the guilt – it got accepted straight away.
Find out what journalists are writing about on Twitter and engage in the conversation using topic hash tags. If they think you’ve got something worthwhile to add to the story, they’ll get in touch.
Offer stories about new trends in your industry, new ways of looking at things, different approaches, a look behind the scenes, but steer clear of promotional articles only designed to make you look good.
Lose the fluff and hype
Editors are no fools. If you’ve called your product or company “unique”, “world-renowned” or “leading”, your release is already in the trash folder.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve tried to explain to CEOs and PR people that journalists couldn’t care less about your core messages. They care about the news value of the story first and foremost. A story with a perfectly crafted core message but without news value – is a complete waste of time. Of course, once you’ve hooked them with a topical news angle, you need to get your message in there, but in a subtle, organic way.
If you understand this, you’re half way there.
Don’t expect them to do your job
Do NOT send information and photographs in the hope that the editor ‘will know what to do with it’.
They WILL know what to do with it, yes – they will delete it, because they have no more than two seconds to decide whether the email you sent is a story or not. If you haven’t told them what the story is, you’ve lost your chance.
A clear, well-written and persuasive two-line pitch explaining exactly what the story is about, why it is relevant and how it can be illustrated, has a much better chance of getting a look in.
Quality, well-written content
Once you have a bite, you can follow up with a crisp, concise article – answering all the obvious questions: Why, what, where, when and how and then include meaningful, non-salesy quotes from no more than three people. Offer up to three captioned photographs, good quality jpegs to choose from and links to your website and contact details for the people mentioned in the article.
Don’t expect the journalist to do research for you. Include relevant quotes and statistics and make sure they’re accurate!
Don’t send an attachment – include the press release in the body of your email.
Newsrooms are shrinking and if you can deliver a complete, ready-to-publish package on time – you’ll get the exposure you want – most of the time.
If an editor shows an interest in your story – be prepared to be interviewed or provide more information. Don’t switch off your mobile and go the gym or say you’re too busy when a journalist calls. Bad move. You won’t get asked again.
Similarly, if you pitch a guest blog post and you’re given a deadline, make sure you deliver on time, whatever happens. No one cares that your computer crashed or your babysitter was late. Make it happen.
Build a relationship
If your article or post is used in whatever way, send a quick thank you email or tweet. Don’t bombard the journalist with daily story suggestions, but do follow them on Twitter, read their stories or blogs and comment from time to time. They’ll be more open to your next, targeted and relevant pitch.
If all of this sounds too much like hard work, why not let me handle the media for you while you get on with the day job.
Contact me if you want help getting exposure in the media.
I can help boost your website traffic and build you profile through effective blogging and guest blogging too. Targeted, engaging website copy to help you meet your goals – I’m your girl.