Although there are more media outlets now than ever before ranging from print TV, radio, social media, blogs and podcasts - building awareness through these channels has become even more challenging. We no longer live in a world where we are solely competing locally; we are now up against those from New York to Hong Kong.
The onslaught of emails and phone calls journalist receive on a daily basis from around the globe heightens the competition that much more. Like Search Engine Optimization, how do you get the media to pick up your story? Here are five strategies to use to enhance your chances of success:
1. Personalize every message: While this may seem time consuming, the last thing you want to do is send out a blast email to several journalists at once, especially if they work for the same publication. As soon as they sense your message was a mass email you can almost guarantee it will go straight in the trash bin. Regardless of the type of media coverage you are trying to acquire, it is important to specifically address the person you are reaching out to and tailor your message around what you believe would interest them.
2. Keep your pitch simple: Don't overload your pitch with unnecessary information. Provide relevant and important information within two to three paragraphs tops. Keep in mind most, if not all journalist and editors you contact are constantly on a time crunch and receive over a hundred emails a day. In an interview with Alice Truong, a former correspondent for Fast Company stated "I get roughly over 100 emails per day- the overwhelming majority of them pitches. In my opinion, a good pitch is first and foremost relevant. Its remarkable how many emails reporters get that are untargeted and not germane to what they cover. Furthermore, it should be concise while conveying just enough information. A head's up to upcoming news is often appreciated as well." Don't waste your time or theirs by providing useless information, this will end up hurting you time and time again if you fail to focus on what will grab their attention.
3. Know who you're pitching to: If you are going to reach out to a journalist personally, do your homework. Make sure they cover the topic you are pitching- this is imperative. No one appreciates getting emails that are completely irrelevant to the topics they cover. Take the time to look at articles they have written and see how you can relate your pitch to something they have previously covered or something that could be of interest to them. Caitlin Kelly from the NY Times said, "I delete virtually every email pitch I get. They're 99.9% useless: generic, evergreen, have nothing to do with me, or what I am working on. The only two emails I opened recently that were useful to me came from people who actually noticed what I cover. I had written a story about women car designers and someone pitched me an interesting and offbeat story related to automobiles." If you want to go the extra mile, try connecting with them via social media and engage with what they're posting. It will help you get to know more about them and have your name be seen.
4. Follow Up- The Right Way: First rule of thumb, be polite! There's a difference between checking in to see if your email has been received versus flooding someone's inbox demanding an answer. Let whomever you are writing to know you are aware of their busy schedule and appreciate any time they take to look at your message. You may have to do several follow ups to get a response but that's the nature of PR. It all comes down to how you go about following up that will set the tone. Regardless of the response you get, always be gracious. Even if they aren't interested in what you are pitching at the moment, politely ask if you can set up a short call to get a better idea of what they are looking for and how you could be of assistance in the future.
5. Provide "News Worthy" information: Before you send anything out to the press, ask yourself "Is the information I am providing news worthy? How come? Who would this interest and why?" Your job is to convince the media outlet you are contacting that this will benefit them. Sending pitches and releases they find insignificant will only hurt your credibility and damage any relationship you could possibly have.
Instant gratification is far from reality in the world of seeking media attention. Getting publicity is all about persistence and remembering that the media wants to supply information that will keep their audience tuned in-not out.