Leveraging the power of media to grow your business is an investment that can pay attractive returns.
A few column inches in a newspaper or a three-minute interview on your local TV or radio station offer a rewarding opportunity to get your company name noticed by your target audiences. More importantly, it empowers you and your firm with the most powerful third-party endorsements.
Because many small firms cannot afford to hire a PR expert to build their media relations, here are some guidelines on how to effectively approach the media on your own:
1. Is Your Story Newsworthy?
The mission of reporters is to “report” about new developments that will engage and resonate with their audiences. Before contacting the media, ask yourself: I am very excited about this story idea, but will anyone else be? If you can’t honestly answer this question, refrain from contacting the media and wait for a better opportunity.
2. Research, Read & Familiarize
Prior to approaching a media outlet, do in-depth research about the type of news they cover and the audience they serve. The more you understand their audience and the stories they typically cover, the more likely your pitch will be successful. Read their reporters’ articles to learn their beats (topics they write about). Make sure your idea is a match and prepare to explain how it would help them further expand on their subject matter. If a reporter has recently written about the topic you have in mind, abstain from calling her and wait a few months.
3. Establish Your Contact List
A great number of media websites publish their journalist’s contact details in the Contact Us section. Some outlets ask to submit story ideas to generic email addresses, like editors@, news@ or features@. Do not use them, as those email inboxes get clogged and are not regularly checked. Ring up the publication’s general number and get the name and contacts of the journalist who is in charge of selecting stories. Try to follow on Twitter the journalist(s) you are planning to contact. In many instances, they may respond much faster to a direct Twitter message than they would to your email or call.
4. The Power of 3 in 30
Whether you are planning to contact a reporter by email or phone, your first task is to encapsulate your idea in a clear and concise manner. Here’s a tip that will help you. Write down the three key concepts you want to convey in maximum 30 words. At first it may be difficult, but picture yourself as a radio or TV presenter announcing it in sound bites.
5. Be Brief!
Limit your pitch email to a maximum of two paragraphs. In the subject line write “story idea” or “editorial inquiry.” Use the first sentence to convey the essence of your story and the remaining two paragraphs to expand on it. When applicable, include data or statistics and reference them. Although it sounds obvious, do not forget to include your name, that of your firm and your phone number. If a journalist likes your story idea, she will likely contact you by phone. Remember: You are pitching a story idea, not your company!
6. Follow Up
A journalist who takes an interest in your story will usually call you back within 48 hours. If you do not hear back from a reporter, ring her up. When you call, first ask “Are you on deadline?” If she is, find out when is a good time to call back. If she is not, state concisely your desire for an interview to discuss your story idea underscoring why you think it would be good for the publication. Reference the email you sent her and provide date, time and subject line. If the journalist requests to interview you at a specific date and a time, make sure to make yourself available.
i-Impact Group Inc.