Getting reporters to write about your business is mission critical to any organization's public relations plan. If you are an entrepreneur who has been relentlessly (or passively) pitching reporters about your idea but with no success (or sub-par success), the case may be that you are making one of most common PR mistakes outlined below. As an entrepreneur (especially entrepreneurs without a publicist), knowing how to capture the interest of a reporter is absolutely critical. Here are three of the main reasons why reporters may not be writing about your business and what you can do about it.
You're Pitching the Wrong Reporters
One of the biggest issues that businesses have with getting media coverage is that they aren't pitching the right reporters. In order to get coverage (or any attention), you need to make sure your story is going across the desks of the right journalists. Do some research on the background of each reporter and then contact the appropriate reporter for your niche. If you are a small bakery who wants coverage on a community event you are participating in, you shouldn't be contacting a reporter that covers news on Wall Street. Finding the right reporter to cover your business is half the battle.
You're Pitching the Wrong Story
While you may think that a promotional article, stating your company is the best business in the world, is a great story, chances are reporters and readers won't think the same way. One of the key mistakes that businesses make is that they pitch the wrong story to reporters. The story has to be about more than promoting your business. Finding a way to tie your story into a current event or trending topic in the media will significantly improve your chances of getting picked up by the press. A reporter's job is to produce content that is interesting, informative and/or entertaining for their readers. You have to put yourself in their shoes and ask, "is this a story that I would click or buy a magazine to read?" If you can offer valuable insight on an issue that is hot in your industry at the moment, there will always be a reporter looking for a viable source and you will always be able to find press. If you can find an angle that conveys your message about your brand in a story format that provides value to readers and entertains them, you will always be able to capture the interest of the media. Finally, if you are pitching a story persistently to no avail for a long period of time, do not be afraid to scrap it and try a different story angle (or find a way to frame the current story differently). Rejection in media is usually not personal. If a story isn't successful, move on to the next one and keep providing new ideas until you pitch one that works.
You're Pitching the Story Wrong
Even if you have all of the right information in your pitch, if you are not pitching the story correctly, chances are you are not going to get very far with your story. Reporters have a massive number of pitches to dive through every day, so you will want to get to the point within the first sentence or two. Don't open with fluff, open with a strong opening. Add information such as background about yourself in the end of the email (99% of the time pitch via email, not phone or fax). The reader may only look at the first two sentences of the pitch anyway, so you want the opening to really draw them in. Personalize each pitch or email to the specific reporter and do not send out mass emails or emails with attachments. Don't forget to always ask for the interview!