I ran across a great post on the Small Business Trends site about how small to mid-size businesses can get media coverage. The article had some great tips such as knowing the publication/media outlet (which requires taking the time to find out the audience and the content, as some items are not appropriate for a particular media outlet), developing newsworthy content, and using Facebook and Twitter to locate reporters and build relationships by following or responding to their posts.
The most important element of the post (and the majority of the content) dealt with the media pitch — in other words, how to suggest a story idea about your business that would actually be publicized. While those tips were helpful, making a good pitch requires some finesse.
You have to consider that reporters receive a lot of pitches both from business owners that try to do their own PR and those who outsource the task to PR firms. Some pitches are good and others are terrible. If you would like to read about how not to pitch a story, check out the Bad Pitch Blog. It lists examples of good and bad pitches.
Keep these points in mind when crafting a pitch and building a good relationship with the media:
- If you pitch a newsworthy story, be ready to move on it right away. Do not waste a reporter’s time. The media are in the business of delivering news. Be available for an interview and ready to release relevant information.
- Respect a reporter’s contact preferences. If a reporter wants to be contacted by e-mail, do not assume that it’s OK to call. Reporters may not always answer the phone (if they are on deadline or at an assignment) and may not necessarily remember to return your call. However, if you e-mail, chances are usually better the reporter will likely e-mail you back. Another advantage of e-mail: a reporter may hold onto your e-mail (to look at it closely) and your contact information for future use.
- If there’s no interest in the story you’ve pitched, back away. Going over a reporter’s head is futile, as his or her boss will likely back the reporter’s news judgment, and worse, it will hurt any potential relationship. A reporter is not going to help publicize your business if he or she knows that you went to the boss because you didn’t like what you heard.
- Speaking of relationships, don’t claim to be more than a casual acquaintance with a media contact unless you communicate with a reporter on a regular basis. If you haven’t talked to a media contact in more than a year, you’re not that tight after all.