Time to lift the veil and expose the best practices for pitching to the press.
Part One –
There’s no way around it, pitching to the press is hard. Getting the attention of the press when you are a small brand can be tough as nail. Even large well-established companies can hit a brick wall. So the last thing you want to do is rookie mistakes. In order to guide you, we have thought best to collect some clever tweets and comments straight from the horse’s mouth with the hope of helping companies get the right kind of attention.
First tip: Don’t call a reporter unless he has called you!
Why is that? Reporters have crazy deadlines, stories to write, editors and publishers to please. They simply don’t have the time to speak to you on the phone.
Yes, I just advised you to stay away from the phone but if a reporter likes your email pitch, he/she may need some additional information, desire a quote from your CEO and want it NOW. So he will call you if he is interested. Make sure your line is free and that you are available from 7 am EST. Most major publishing houses are on the East Coast, specifically in the tri-state area and be ready to receive calls at 7 am EST.
Tip number 3: Use email. Whoever predicted the death of emails (or still does) was wrong. Oh so wrong.
For the most parts, emails are still the best and often favored way to pitch a story. But as I said mostly. If you pitch a story via Twitter, the reporter is likely to answer (if at all) with a “please send me an email.” Then there are the exceptions that come with the strangest requirements.
Tip number 4: Craft your email. Since reporters are inundated with email pitches, phone calls, tweets and in-person ambush (no joke), be respectful and give them plenty of time to respond to your message. Hopefully, you will have reached out to them at least seven days prior to your launch or significant news items. Your first email is your pitch.If you don’t email them your pitch in advance, your time-sensitive pitch may be lost. Once you have sent it, wait 72 hours to follow-up with a polite note.
Tip number 5: It’s me again.
And do not follow-up more than once. Being respectful, with good boundaries and table-side manners is what will make you “press worthy.” Don’t lose track of the fact you are aiming to build long-term relationships with reporters and editors. And the reason you wish for those relationships is so that they will give you press coverage as your enterprise grows and think of you as an “expert” in your industry. Be considerate. Be creative. They will remember you and for all the right reasons.
Tip number 6: It’s an exclusive stupid
If you are clever enough, you will have picked three to five top publications to present your story as an exclusive. If you haven’t sent your pitch to other outlets, let them know upfront that you are giving them first bite. Communicate clearly to the reporter that if you haven’t heard back anything by the end of the day (or following day), that you are taking it somewhere else. Make sure your story is “exclusive” material. There must be some real news to be considered “exclusive-worthy.” Be polite!
Tip number 7: Don’t fax anything. This isn’t the 90s.
Only banks and government agencies are expecting you to fax. Seriously, what planet are you on?Don’t show your age. If you fax your pitch, you are stating to the world that you get around driving a horse-drawn carriage and that you have no understanding of the meaning of news. To be news, it has to be current.
Thank you for reading my article. Part two, coming up.
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