Lots of journalists keep receiving bad pitches everyday. Help them out. Help share the word about engaging reporters the way they like. Keep in mind the following tips to please your media contacts and increase your chances of getting covered.
1. Learn how to tell a story
If you haven’t already, consider starting a blog today. If you blog and read blogs constantly, you’ll become a better writer. You will understand what headlines get shared more than others and what stories are interesting for your audience. You will also understand reporters better: storytellers don’t care about your product, they just want to provide value for their readers. So spend time writing and learning how to tell stories.
2. Research and build your media list
Who is going to write about your project? You need to know exactly who you’re writing to. Start Googling your competitors to find who covered them. Identify the reporters who write about specific topics related to your project. Create a spreadsheet and add useful information: preferred contact methods, best time to contact, previous relevant articles and any other info you learn. Your contact list is a valuable asset.
3. Establish a relationship
Contacting journalists the week you launch a new product will not increase your chances at all. Many journalists say it’s better to give previews months before the launch – this is also useful to get expert feedback about your product. Treat each of these relationships like gold and you can hopefully count on coverage for years. Also, come up with story ideas for them in which you can also offer your expertise.
4. Time your news to perfection
Consider editorial calendars, timezones, workflows. Many reporters travel often to cover specific events: this means they will write about it and won’t have time for your pitch. Many publications plan themes well in advance and can offer an editorial calendar. Once you’ve identified what they will be working on, see where your business can fit in and bring value.
5. Remember that journalists are people too
Never forget to say hello at the beginning or to thank them in the end. We’re all human beings after all, so be human. As Robert Scoble once said: Don’t ask to pitch. The answer is ALWAYS no. Instead, ask something like “I have a ground-breaking iPad app that is 10x better than Microsoft Office, what do you need to verify that what I’m telling you is true?”
6. Get attention with the subject line
The title is the only trigger to get your email opened. If it sounds interesting or catchy, the email may be opened, if it’s not, then it will be deleted right away. You want very busy people to pay attention, so make it easy for them. Write short emails. Include a clear call to action: what do you want them to do? This will save everybody’s time. Also, pdf attachments are considered irritating because it’s not easy to extract information from them.
7. Make them come to you
Extraordinary content can lead reporters to you. Do market research in your industry and analyze the data into digestible forms. Run surveys, publish case studies, or create infographics. All these contents can provide useful insights on your industry and help you establish your reputation as an expert.
8. Carry on conversations
This is not a sprint, but a marathon. So don’t waste your sprints: remember to follow up and show gratitude for all the feedback you get. If you can really show how much you appreciated the writer’s work, your chances to be covered will be higher the next time. And even if you get negative feedback, it’s pointless to start fighting. Just say thanks and deal with the problem you identified.
9. Measure results
You may want to use another spreadsheet here! Key indicators to measure the results can be social shares, number of links, amount of referral traffic, possibly lead generation. There’s plenty of tools out there to measure almost every metric you can imagine, so do that. At pr.co we use one dashboard to show real time analytics of PR campaigns. Many times, new customers will tell you themselves where they heard about you. If they don’t, just ask them.
10. Never stop learning
Make getting press a cycle, not an accident. If you make this your goal, everything will be easier and more focused in the long run. Building relationships, writing on your blog: everything will be easier. So update your weekly schedule with all the activities you need to make this happen any time you need it.