How to Get Your Story Picked Up By the Media
By Mark Swartz
Monster Contributing Writer
There’s a lot of talk about pushing your story via social media. But what about getting your narrative picked up by traditional media?
Your company needs all the free exposure it can get, right? Like when you launch a new product, or if you do something unique and impactful.
Talk shows and news programs on radio or TV – they’re ferociously hungry for content. So are newspapers and magazines. All of them looking for timely, newsworthy content. Here’s how to make it easier for journalists, editors and producers to feature your story.
Know Who the Media Players Are
Before you write a potent Press Release – and prior to calling every journalist or producer in town – do your homework. It’s a waste to time to send out mass e-mails about your latest widget or award win as media people are bombarded with requests for exposure daily. You need to market your request in a targeted manner.
Identify the most relevant media outlets that your story might fit with. Which magazines and talk shows feature the kind of content you’re pitching? At each of these key media outlets, find out which journalist or program manager deals with your type of story. This list is worth its weight in publicity gold.
Write an Effective Press Release
The information you provide to media outlets should be fast, factual and forthcoming. If you pitch by e-mail (or text), use a carefully worded Press Release to grab their attention.
Start with a clever, but informative, subject line. Your opening paragraph should highlight the issue or opportunity, then slam home how your firm is offering a solution.
Include relevant stats or data, possible sources, examples of accompanying art, and the story’s suggested fit with this particular publication or program. Keep the pitch short and to the point. Provide detailed contact info so that someone at your end is available at a moment’s notice if needed.
Create an Irresistible Hook
A way to make your pitch more enticing is to give it a hook. This means tying your content into a related event or news-making happening.
As an example, say that your company produces software that protects user privacy. Be ready with a story when yet another big retailer reports a major data breach.
A different angle involves pitching before a scheduled event. Are you in the workplace-safety industry? Shortly in advance of NAOSH Week (devoted to workplace health and safety in Canada), is a perfect time to touch base with your media contacts.
Establish Yourself as A Trusted Source
Because media people are busy and deadline-driven, they tend to come back to sources they can rely on. You can establish yourself as a trusted content partner by doing the following:
· Always responding to media requests as quickly as possible, even if it’s inconvenient
· Referring the media to other sources and information outlets when you can’t be sufficiently helpful yourself
· Refraining from bothering media contacts with overly-frequent pitches
· Listing your firm, and its key contacts, in publications that the media refers to for sources
If your firm does get interviewed, there’s no guarantee the result will be exactly as hoped for. Resist the urge to complain unless a glaring error has been made. You want to be seen as media-friendly.
Hire a PR Firm?
The do-it-yourself approach can only take you so far. Compiling lists of media contacts, building relationships with journalists and program producers, generating pitches…these are time consuming pursuits.
Sometimes public relations (getting your story aired by the media) are better left to the professionals. PR firms come in every shape and size. They can help connect you with appropriate outlets, craft your pitch, or do the whole thing for you.
A good public relations practitioner will help prepare you for the interview. They have media training in how to position your message to enhance your branding. And they’ll teach you how to avoid going blank or blurting out compromising info.
Leverage Social Media Too
Regardless if you do it yourself of hire a PR pro, augment your efforts with a social media campaign. Use Twitter and Facebook to let people know about your media exposure. Post your Press Release to your website. And put a video on YouTube if your story is on TV.
People say that publicity is free. That’s not entirely true. There’s the expense of having an employee, or outside firm, connect you to the media. An accompanying social media push takes someone’s time too. However if the phrase “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” holds true, then no matter what the outcome it makes business sense to expose your story in the media.