Crafting the perfect media pitch

January 21, 2014

Newspaper stack small 2Are you looking for media coverage for your business?

Media pitching is one of the best ways to entice journalists to tell your business’ story.

Media pitches offer a brief and compelling explanation of a particular issue, news angle or exclusive story and put forward a representative from your business to be interviewed on the topic.

A media pitch effectively sells a story idea to the journalist.

Media pitches are often in the form of an email, though can be pitched over the phone as well.

Journalists can receive hundreds of media pitches a day. It is critical that you take the time and care to craft a media pitch which is engaging and relevant to the journalist and publication. This will increase the chance of your pitch landing.

The following golden rules will help you craft a great pitch and improve your chances of securing an interview with a relevant publication.

Target a specific audience
It is important to define your target audience and look into publications that best cater to this group. Your pitch should then be tailored to the publication you want to send it to. Consider what your target audience are interested in and adapt your pitch accordingly.

Understand your business
To craft a great pitch you have to have an in depth understanding of your business and what makes it interesting to your target audience and to the journalist. It is important to become an expert on the subject matter you are pitching in order to inform the content of your pitches, but also so you can answer questions from journalists on the spot.

Do your research
Research is one of the most important tools to use when creating and sending out media pitches. It is important that you conduct research into publications including the format, target audience, frequency and readership.

You should also research specific journalists, what they write about and their reporting styles. Read the journalist’s articles and check out their social media channels. Sending a generic pitch will not be appealing to a journalist, it must be targeted.

Pitch newsworthy information
Before sending your pitch, ensure that you have a unique, relevant and newsworthy angle. It is important to make your media pitch about a story angle or idea, rather than simply sharing information about your company. Stay on top of what’s happening in your industry and the industries you are trying to target, as often this can lead to new and interesting story ideas.

If you are unsure of what angle is most interesting or relevant, the following ideas can be tailored to suit any business:

  • Business milestones, i.e. anniversaries
  • Evergreen stories, such as Christmas, New Year’s Day or Mother’s Day.
  • Award wins
  • Human interest – which could include looking at the stories behind your business.

Be concise and engaging
All pitches should be clear, concise and succinct and shouldn’t be longer than three to four paragraphs. It is important to remember that busy people won’t read a long email, so the first paragraph should clearly outline your main ideas.

If you are sending your pitch over email, it is also important to consider your email’s subject line. Many journalists won’t read past the subject line if they don’t think it is interesting or relevant to their publication. If you fail to catch their attention your pitch is likely to be left unread.

Develop relationships with journalists
Journalists ultimately hold the keys to your business’ media coverage. In order to cut through the noise and land a pitch with a journalist, you need to successfully pitch an interesting and relevant story angle as well as build rapport with that journalist.

Journalists receive hundreds of emails a day, and don’t have time to look at every email, however if you have been in previous contact, they are more likely to open emails from you. Always be accommodating, responsive and helpful to help build rapport and familiarity.

It is important when pitching to appear friendly but formal. Always use the journalist’s name, and make sure it is spelt correctly.

Don’t hold on to your good information and wait for another opportunity before you pitch it. Tell a journalist straight away and they will either use your information, or keep it in mind for the future. They will grateful that you are keeping them across key information as it arises.

By following these guidelines and taking care when crafting media pitches, you will put your business in the best possible position to get coverage in the media.

Sydney Public Relations Agency, CP Communications provides specialist media, traditional and online PR strategies that get amazing results. Contact us today. For more tips see our website www.cpcommunications.com.au

What to do if a journalist says no

November 27, 2012

Have you spent hours carefully crafting a media pitch, sending it to a journalist, following-up a few days later with a phone call and they say no, not interested? So where do you go from here?

Don’t get disheartened, there are many reasons a journalist may have turned down your media pitch. If this happens to you, there are some steps you can take to still get media coverage.

Here are some reasons why a journalist may not have been interested in your media pitch. 

  • Timing: You may have pitched your idea right before a breaking news story. Journalists will then be extremely busy gathering the latest information about the breaking news and may not have time for other stories. There’s not much you can do about this, except re-pitch your idea when the breaking news is over, if your pitch is still timely and relevant.
  • It’s been done: A journalist may have already covered the topic you have given them. If your story idea doesn’t provide the journalist with a fresh angle they won’t write about the same topic again. You will either have to come up with a fresh angle or hope they keep you in mind next time they write a story on a similar topic.
  • Interest: Each journalist has a preference for the kinds of stories they are interested in. If you are pitching to the media it’s then your job to find out what those interests are. You can do this by reading their articles, looking at their bio, finding them on LinkedIn or searching to see if they have a blog. With this information you can then gain an insight into the topics of interest to the journalist. This will help you to pitch ideas that a journalist is more likely to say yes to.

How to still get coverage
If your media pitch has been rejected, there are a number of different tactics you can implement to try and get media coverage with the same pitch.

  • Pitch it somewhere else: This one is an obvious tip, but ensure to personalise the pitch before sending it somewhere else. If you send the pitch to another journalist but don’t update their name they may become angry at you or ignore the pitch.
  • Edit the pitch: If the journalist gives you feedback on why the pitch wasn’t interesting to them, take their feedback on board, edit the pitch and send it somewhere else. If you didn’t receive feedback from the journalist, have a brainstorm with your colleagues or mentor to figure out what you can do to make it more interesting.
  • Target different media: Did you write the pitch with a specific industry in mind, for example a travel journalist? If so, you may be able to adapt the pitch to suit a journalist from a different industry such as hospitality or marketing.

Write the story yourself: You can write an article or blog post based on the media pitch. Many trade publications are looking for good quality content and will happily accept submitted articles. You can also post the article on your company blog, if you have one.

Sometimes, as hard as you may try, you just have to let the pitch go and accept it wasn’t the right time for it to be published. When pitching to the media, not everything you do will yield fantastic results. Public relations is a long-term commitment that requires effort, creative thinking and resourcefulness in order to be successful.

What you can learn from Halloween for your PR strategy

November 1, 2012

Halloween was last night and you may have seen some zombies trick or treating in your neighbourhood!

There are a number of ideas you can borrow from Halloween that can help to bring your PR strategy back from the dead. For instance:

Use evergreen stories: Each year there are many calendar events which the media will publish stories about such as Halloween or Christmas. From a media perspective, stories around these events remain interesting and newsworthy every year.

You can use these evergreen stories to your advantage to gain publicity for your business by coming up with a fresh new angle. For example a business media angle around New Year’s Eve could be ‘New Year business resolutions’.   

Don’t be a zombie: Mindless zombies wander around at Halloween without a clear goal where they are going. Don’t let your PR activities turn into a zombie by not having a clear goal for how you will communicate with your customers. You need a PR strategy for your business to help target your communication to the right audience and the right publications at the right time.

Also zombies aren’t the most engaging creatures. Avoid becoming a PR zombie by engaging and building relationships with the media. Journalists are more likely to read your emails and call for interviews if they know who you are and that they can rely on you for an interview. You can start to build a relationship with a journalist by understanding what they are interested in, knowing the topics they write about, being mindful of their deadlines, getting their name right and delivering on your promises.

Trick or treat: Sometimes in business you can be surprised by a ‘trick’ or a crisis that occurs. This could be a negative comment on social media which, if escalated, could potentially be reported in the media. If a trick does occur you need to know how to resolve the issue before it escalates into a crisis. For the above example, you would need to respond to the negative comment in a polite manner on the social media platform it appeared. Show your customers the process you will take to resolve the issue and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

If your PR strategy if effective you may receive a ‘treat’ by gaining great media coverage for your business. When your business is featured in the media it can help to build your brand, reach your target audience with your message and boost your reputation.

Halloween parties: An effective PR tactic is holding events such as a launch party to announce a new product, a press conference or an opening ceremony for a new building. Events are a great way to gain direct access to your target audience, secure media coverage for your business and build your brand.

Don’t let your PR strategy turn into a zombie. With the end of the year fast approaching, now is a great time to re-evaluate your PR strategy and ensure it’s working effectively for your business.

Have you used Halloween to promote your business?

What is a media kit and do you need one?

October 16, 2012

A media kit is a folder containing information about your business, product or event. They are mainly used at events and for launches as a package of information for journalists to help them write their story.

The point of a media kit is to catch the eye of a journalist and make them want to write an article or do an interview. It should be a one-stop shop for all of the information journalists need.

As the world becomes more and more digital, media kits are being used less but they do have a place, if used correctly, but are more likely these days to be found on a USB stick rather than in a cardboard folder.

What should your media kit contain?

Depending on your business or the reason why you are using a media kit, this list may change. But there are a few basic items which should always be included to make sure your media kit is effective as possible.

  • Contact details: for the person who can be interviewed, a PR contact or anyone else of relevance
  • Information about the company/person: a succinct bio is enough, it’s to help the journalist and share interesting information they would need to research. Try not to make it more than three paragraphs for each person.
  • A press release: Journalists will want to know what is going on and have some details about the event. Your press release should include quotes from the person who is available for interview.
  • Images: if your media kit is digital you can put some images on it that journalists can use for their stories. Most journalists requite high-res, but if there isn’t enough space put them on as low-res and let the journalists know they can contact you for high-res if needed.

Some other options which aren’t as vital but you may want to think about are:

  • Testimonials from clients or customers
  • Annual report
  • Outline of anything else the business/person is up to journalists may find interesting.
  • Samples of your product
  • Recent news coverage

Where to send your media kit

Just as with sending out press releases and media pitches, knowing when and where to send your kit is crucial. Before sending it out to everyone in the media, spend time researching publications and media outlets to know which ones are most likely to cover your company.

You may want to include a personalised letter to each journalist to introduce yourself, the company and explain what the media kit is for. This will help you to make a connection with the person you’re trying to reach, rather than sending them the exact same media kit you may be sending 100 other journalists.

If you do chose to include a product sample be aware some media outlets have rules surrounding accepting gifts. If you’re not sure, contact the outlet before you send the kit and don’t make the gifts too extravagant.

Media kits shouldn’t be used all of the time, but sometimes they do have their place in the world of public relations.

 

Why you should pitch a local angle

October 11, 2012

Many businesses want to gain media coverage in all the top national and metropolitan news outlets and often forget about the benefits of local news.

For many businesses the majority of their customers and clients are in their local area. This means gaining media coverage in local newspapers, magazines, newsletters, radio programs or TV programs may be more effective at reaching your target audience.

Local journalists are always looking for a local angle on a national story. For example if there is a job shortage in Australia and you are a recruitment company you could pitch your local media a story about how your business is helping people to find work locally. You may have a better chance of getting coverage in your region because national media publications will be covering stories about the government or have a broader focus.

It’s often easier to contact your local media publication than national media publications, which means you may have a better chance of gaining coverage.

The Small Business Playbook has provided some tips on how to pitch a story to your local media.

Target your pitch
It’s important to target your pitch to a specific local journalist and media publication. This means you need to explain why your story is suitable and interesting to the publication’s audience and why the story is local news.

Make it local
You will have a better chance of gaining a journalists’ attention if you have a local story angle. For example it could be how your business is helping the local community or maybe your CEO grew up in the local area. Make sure your story is not too promotional, it still needs to be newsworthy or a journalist won’t be interested.

Be patient
Don’t expect to gain media coverage straight away. You might have to send many different pitches before a journalist is interested in your story. If a journalist tells you they aren’t interested then think about another angle that would be more appropriate for local news and pitch that in.

When trying to gain media coverage for your business don’t neglect local media. Customers often like to support local businesses therefore gaining media coverage in a local paper may lead to increased customer interest in your business.

Have you ever been featured in your local news?

Read the full article here.

How to gain the attention of a journalist with a media pitch

October 2, 2012

If you want a journalist to interview you for a story, you are going to have to get their attention. One of the most effective ways of doing this is by sending them a media pitch. Most pitches are sent via email, but you can also choose to pick up the phone and talk to a journalist, although many prefer email contact.

Writing a media pitch is different to writing an article or a blog post, it is about gaining the interest of a journalist about your story in order for them to want to write an article about an issue or topic of interest you are an expert in.

Basic structure tips
The basic premise of a media pitch is to outline the issue you can talk about and explain why you are an expert in this area. There are some basic structure tips to remember while writing it.

Always use the journalist’s name and make sure to double-check it is spelt correctly. A journalist will ignore your email for a lot less than getting their name wrong.

In the body of the pitch make sure to state who you are, the topic you can be interviewed on, why this topic is interesting to the journalist and explain why you are an expert.

Try to make it no longer than three or four paragraphs, much longer than that and you will lose the interest of the journalist you are trying to attract.

Lastly, always include contact details, whether this is your email signature, or you include it at the bottom. Some journalists prefer to email and others prefer to call, always give them the option by providing these details.

Pitch ideas
Journalists are looking for angles that are newsworthy, timely and interesting. If there’s nothing particular contentious or newsworthy going on in your industry that you can comment on, there are a number of ideas to keep in the back of your mind:

  • Business milestones, ie 10 years in business
  • Evergreen stories such as an accountant pitching about tax tips around June 30.
  • Award wins
  • Human interest – the stories behind your business

How to develop story angles
When developing angles around your business there are some key pointers to keep in mind to ensure you capture the attention of a journalist.

You need to tailor your story idea to the publication you want to send it to, think about the publication’s target audience, what could they get out of the story you’re thinking of sending the journalist?

Read the news every day, you need to be on top of what is happening in your industry and those industries you are trying to target. You should also read the publications you want to be quoted in, in order to understand the style of the publication and the different journalists who write for it.

Lastly, listen to your customers or clients. Is there a particular issue or question frequently coming up in your communications with them? A trend may be starting that you can pitch a story idea on.

Pitching a media angle to a journalist doesn’t have to be difficult, you need to put in some time and effort into tailoring it, ensuring you have a hook that will make the journalist interested enough to give you a call.

 

How to pitch to radio

September 25, 2012

When creating a PR strategy for your business, radio often gets overlooked in favour of gaining media coverage on TV, print or online publications.

However radio is a great medium to promote your business and reach your target audience.

Radio programs usually have a specific audience of listeners, which allows you to communicate directly to your customers, clients or a niche group of people. 

Pitching to radio is different than pitching to TV or print media because the news cycle is quicker, they have other sections or segments and the journalists have different roles.

Here are some tips to help you pitch to radio.

Have a newsworthy story
To be featured in a radio interview you need to have something newsworthy or interesting you can discuss. Maybe you are an expert on a topic that is currently in the news or maybe your business is doing something really exciting a journalist would be interested in. Your topic must appeal to the program’s target audience and conform to the topics they usually discuss. 

Know the segments
Do some research into the radio programs your target audience listens to and get to know more about it. Some radio stations have specific segments you can pitch to for example there may be a gardening or business segment.

Most radio stations have breakfast, morning, afternoon, and drive shows, so if your story is news related these segments are a good place to pitch to.

Who to pitch to
You need to find out who the best person is to pitch your story to, to ensure it will be considered. In most cases this will be the program producer rather than the host of the show as they are involved in planning the show’s content.

If you don’t have access to a media database you can find out who to pitch to by calling the radio station’s switchboard and asking for the name and contact details of a specific producer. 

How to pitch
In most cases it’s better to pitch to a radio producer with a phone call rather than an email. Radio journalists tend to work at a very fast pace and your email may become lost.

When pitching to a journalist you need to explain why you would be a great person to interview. You also need to explain why your interview would be of interest to the program’s listeners.

When doing phone pitches make sure you practice beforehand and write down what you are going to say. You have a better chance of success if you appear confident, knowledgeable and get your point across quickly. If you stumble for words and don’t know what you are going to say a journalist may lose interest.

How to follow-up
It’s a good idea to follow-up your phone call with an email straight away to further explain your pitch and why it’s relevant and interesting for their listeners.

Here are some things you should include in your pitch and follow-up email:

  • Your credentials.
  • The topics you can discuss during the interview.
  • Why your topic is newsworthy or of interest to the target audience.
  • Your availability for interviews.
  • Your contact details.

Pitch at the right time
Timing is everything. If you catch a journalist at the wrong time they will be unlikely to listen to your pitch. Never call a radio journalist during a live broadcast or while they are on air (unless it’s talkback). Journalists will be too busy at this time and you will just annoy them.

Know what times the radio program airs and make your call before or shortly after the broadcast ends.

By including radio in your business’s PR strategy you can reach your target audience, promote your business and increase your media exposure. 

 

Should you ask the media to run a correction?

August 23, 2012

What do you do if you notice a publication or a journalist has reported facts on your business incorrectly? Maybe your business name is misspelt or maybe you were quoted incorrectly.

Knowing how to approach a journalist to ask for a correction while still maintaining a good relationship with them can be difficult.

In some instances where the article appears online it could be as easy as updating the information on the webpage. If the article is printed, it may involve a correction or a retraction, depending on the error made.

PR Fuel has provided a simple guide to asking the media to run a correction.

Make sure your correction is worthwhile
Don’t ask a journalist to run a correction just because you didn’t like the tone of the article or if you were portrayed in a bad light. Only ask a journalist to run a correction if they’ve made a factual error such as misspelling a name, title or published the wrong description of a company.

Maintain a good relationship with the media
Don’t call a journalist to abuse them for making a mistake this will only destroy your relationship with them and make them less likely to run a correction. When you contact a journalist politely inform them of the mistake and provide them with the correct information. Then ask if they can run the correction.

What if a journalist refuses
Politely ask to speak to their editor/supervisor and explain the situation to them. If they also refuse it’s a good time to reassess whether the mistake is important enough to correct. If you decide it is then contact the next person in the chain of command.

Why asking for a correction is important?
When a story is published in the media it becomes a source of information for journalists and future stories. If the mistake is not corrected it may be repeated in media coverage in the future. Even if a correction is not published in the media it may still be documented with the original story. This will inform journalists in the future and help them to not make the same mistake.

The story will also be seen by your  target audience, which means it’s essential they receive the correct information. If mistakes are made they may not be able to contact your business or they might receive the wrong message about your business.

You can determine if it’s appropriate to ask a journalist for a correction depending on the severity of the mistake and the strength of your relationship with them. However, many PR professionals will tell you it’s important to at least ask a journalist for a correction.

Have you ever wanted to ask a journalist for a correction? How did you go about it if you did? 

Read the full article here.

 

How to communicate with journalists on LinkedIn

August 9, 2012

Building relationships with journalists is a crucial part of a PR professional’s role.

When you have a good relationship it’s easier to pitch stories to a journalist and communicate with them. Journalists are very busy and are often more likely to look at your email or answer your phone call if they know who you are. You will also gain a better understanding of their work schedule and what they are interested in, which will help you pitch the best stories at the right time.

With so many journalists now on social media it provides a great communication tool to help you build a relationship with journalists. 

Arketi Web Watch Media survey has revealed 92 percent of journalists are on LinkedIn making it the most-used social network by journalists.

In light of these findings PR News has provided some great tips for communicating to journalists via LinkedIn.

Don’t connect with everyone: Don’t just connect with every journalist you can find. Try and connect with journalists you have previously worked with and journalists you regularly deal with. When connecting with a journalist who doesn’t know you, consider offering them a compelling reason to accept you. Tell them why you want to connect with them and why you would make a good connection.

Get to know the journalist: Before communicating with a journalist it’s a great idea to look at their LinkedIn profile and get to know them better. Find out their interests, what publication they write for, what topics they cover and who else they know. This information can help you communicate with the journalist by talking about shared interests or offering them useful information on the topics they write about.

Follow a publication: By connecting with a publication you can stay up to date on their latest updates and look out for media opportunities. Sometimes journalists will post interview call outs which you can monitor and offer your clients as sources.

Be an active member of a group: If you notice a few key journalists are part of a LinkedIn group you should also join this group. By participating in the group’s discussions and providing expert advice the journalists may notice you as a great source to interview. By joining a group you can also direct message other members of the group even if you’re not connected. This is a great way to introduce yourself to a journalist without being too assertive.

Answer questions: Journalists have been known to use the ‘answers’ section on LinkedIn to find out more information about a story they are covering or to look for people to interview. Look for questions in this section you or your client could answer. By providing expert advice you can position yourself as an expert in your field and hopefully get noticed by a journalist looking for sources. You can even answer questions posted by journalists and be as helpful as possible.

Often it may not be appropriate to pitch a story to a journalist via LinkedIn, especially if you don’t know them. However these tips can help you get noticed by a journalist on LinkedIn and enable you to start a relationship with them. You can then build this relationship so the next time you pitch them a story via email they will know who you are.

Read the full article here.

 

 

Why you need a PR strategy

June 26, 2012

If you’re thinking about promoting your business or communicating with your customers then you need a PR strategy.

It’s not worth while sending out messages to just any one without considering who you actually want to hear your messages. A PR strategy will help you target your communication to the right audience and the right publications at the right time.

Here are some reasons why you need a PR strategy.

Find your target audience: When you create a PR strategy think about the target audience who you want to receive your message. This is an important step to ensure your message will make the most impact. Without finding your target audience your message will not be received by the right people and your PR activities will not be very successful.

Find your key messages: One of the first steps to creating a PR strategy is to create your key messages. Key messages are the underlying points you want your target audience to hear and understand through your PR activities. For example a key message for a business may be: The [insert business] is a thought leader and expert in its field, always staying on top of industry trends to produce cutting edge programs.

Target the right journalists: Once you have determined your target audience and your key messages you can now think about what publications and journalists you need to contact. The best publications are the ones that your target audience reads. This will help you to achieve media coverage in the most appropriate publications.

Determine your goal: It’s important to always have a goal for your PR activities. By determining your goal you will have a clear purpose for your PR strategy and maximise the success of your PR activities. For example your goal may be to achieve a 25 percent increase in sales for product X in three months.

Create a time frame: By creating a goal you can then plan out the steps to achieving this goal. A PR strategy will help you to establish a time frame around these steps so you can achieve your goal in the set time frame.

Measure your success: If you’re conducting PR activities for your business your boss is bound to ask you, “how successful are these PR activities.”  If you don’t have a PR strategy it will be harder to measure your success and answer this question. A strategy will help you to create measurable data and determine if you achieved your goal. For example if your goal was to increase sales by 25 per cent you need to constantly measure how many sales you received while implementing your strategy.

Better communication: When you have a PR strategy it will be easier to communicate your goal and activities. For example you can tell your client exactly what you will be doing for them and when.

A PR strategy enables you to consider every aspect of communicating a message in the best possible way. It will also help you to maximise the success of your PR efforts and gain the most appropriate media coverage.

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