Luckily for you, it’s a complete myth that you need to hire an expensive PR agency to secure press coverage for yourself or your business. In fact, journalists love hearing directly from business owners – they just want a well thought out pitch. So here are my top insider ideas to connect well with the media.
Be really clear on what your business objectives are before getting press. Are you trying to work with a media publisher because it’s good for your ego, or is it genuinely moving the dial? Press coverage isn’t a one-stop solution for driving sales, booking or downloads. It’s just one component of the marketing mix. In my case, I want to attract an audience of freelancers, small biz or side hustles. Getting in a title like Forbes was great for my ego but didn’t move the dial on my customers, whereas smaller, niche blogs on business websites where my audience are has generated a lot of work for me.
Pitch a story
Pitch a story rather than thinking about your product, service or your point of view. Think about what the human-interest story is, or how you can use your expertise to include a byline/mention of your business. As an example: if I’m trying to pitch my book – I’m not going to just pitch how great my book is. I might be writing a top tips piece such as this, or I might talk about how the experience of writing a book kept me going through a personally difficult time which could be more of a human/personal interest story.
Less is more
Forget about trying to get your email out to a big fat old database of as many journalist names as you can find. That’s called spam. Pick 3-5 publishing titles that you really want to be in and pitch wisely. Research them: what sections could your story work for? Have they already covered something similar? If so, how can you take the story forward? When you take the time to really research, you can tailor the email to the right journalist and this means that even is your story isn’t right, you are on their radar.
If you follow a tool such as #journorequest and spot something that fits for you, time is of the essence. It’s no good seeing a journalist put a call out for information and thinking, I can respond to that later. In fact, if you see a journalist request that fits for you, jump on it right now, right now, right now! Because believe me, they are not waiting for the best response, they are working with the quickest that fits. Journalists are busy, and they are on a deadline. Follow the hashtag #Journorequest on Twitter to keep up to date.
Keep it short & sharp
Don’t send an essay, keep it succinct. I recommend a well thought out subject line and then a quick off the mark intro. My middle para, which has all the information, is never more than a few bullet points, and then I have a sign off paragraph. I always include my email and phone number in case it gets forwarded on, and then my name. If there is background information such as a bio, press release or report I put underneath for context but I don’t include in the main body. I also don’t attach anything.
Business owners have a passion for their company that no publicist can match. They’re the experts in their own business. The art of securing press coverage ultimately comes down to how well you can tell your own story. If after reading the above you think you would still struggle with a pitch, try chatting to a pal about your business and have them help you pull out the best bits. When you are caught up in the minutiae of day-to-day it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. Getting press coverage is a skill that you can practice and repeat over and over. And once mastered, the only cost is your time. If there is any skill I would encourage you to master for 2020, learning how to do your own publicity would be one.