Now, all you need is to get The New York Times to cover you. No, WIRED…
Or how about Fast Company? Now that would be cool.
Just getting the attention of an established journalist will catapult your story to readers, viewers, and listeners across the nation, or perhaps around the world. You’ll get tones of traffic! You’ll be rich! Maybe get a quick exit to Facebook for a few billion.
So…you send a quick email to the Sr. Editor at Fast Company and explain how awesome your startup is. But you don’t hear back. Seconds go by.
Hours. Days… and nothing.
Unfortunately, this is how hundreds of new entrepreneurs go about their publicity campaigns. Not only do you frustrate yourself, you also make journalists tear their hair out from every bit of spam they receive in their emails.
Well, here’s how to grab the attention of journalists in three easy steps and not file you away in their spam folder.
It's not easy, but it’s going to take a lot of patience and practice.
You will need to adopt a strategic and more flexible approach, and integrate yourself into a multi-stage process that will build your relationships with journalists and make you a credible source.
Your ultimate goal is to build your value as a source before you can market your stories reliably over the long-term.
Start writing and placing your expertise for everyone to see. In order to build your credibility as an expert, you need to be published everywhere. Here’s how.
- List all industry media publications: Start by listing all the media properties that your industry peers read. This may include industry blogs, social media pages and profiles, online magazines, newspapers and even video channels if possible.
- Do your keyword research: There are so many ways to do keyword research. A quick search can provide you with hundreds of resources. The reason you want to do keyword research is to uncover what your potential readers are searching for. What questions do they want answered? When you have uncovered a list of long-tail keyphrases and keywords, you can now start creating different topics that are relevant to the information needs of your target audience.
- Build relationships with industry influencers online: Track the key influencers in your industry and start conversing with them. Comment on their posts, ask questions through social media, essentially networking online. What you’re doing is seeding the garden before you really need them.
- Write. At the same time, you should be writing your articles and posts for each of the publications that accept guest posts. Once you have been published, encourage the industry influencers that you’ve networked with to share your posts and articles to their network, either through LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or even forums.
The purpose of creating a personal brand is to have key reporters, bloggers and influencers chase you for your expertise, instead of the other way around.
These sites, many of which offer free signup, will allow you to connect with journalists who are in need of sources on any number of topics. I suggest checking out these popular choices:
Not only do these sites help journalists save time, they are a huge benefit for brands looking for exposure on the cheap. And who knows, you might even come across a high profile journalist looking for a feature in a large publication.
The trick is not to use social media to pitch, but instead to use it as a tool to build relationships with journalists. Subscribe and follow them on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, and message boards.
Many news sites and blogs integrate discussion and comments into their sites. Incorporate your social media profile to contribute to meaningful discussion.
You can use AllMyTweets to keep track of topics that a journalist may like or dislike. Cover events and report on them, and make sure to connect them back to relevant discussions. Tweet, re-Tweet, hashtag, and @ddress other users and journalists intelligently.
While not necessarily a direct way to pitch, you are building a sense of credibility, and most importantly, you are reaching out to a very accessible audience. Journalists will take note of this, and having built that familiarity with them will set you apart when you're ready to pitch directly to them.
And don't be afraid to advertise it! Make sure to use social media ads and even a pay-per-click ad campaign if needed to influence targeted media outlets. This will establish a presence for your company.
So you've gotten a lead off of a query site, or you've built a rapport with a journalist through social media, and you feel ready to contact them with your pitch.
- Establish communication as quickly as possible, and provide your press release well before the deadline. Email them first, and follow-up with a call, and if need be, leave a short and detailed message.
- Discuss your pitch and provide them with the information they need. Make sure your pitch is well-researched and relevant. Journalists will be irritated if you respond to leads without anything to back it up.
- Provide the information up front and avoid beating around the bush. Keep your pitches to the point while using a unique angle to make your pitch stand out. You can do this by adding a personal touch, while being honest and transparent..
- Research the journalist beforehand; read what they write. Use your familiarity with their work to build a long-term relationship. Don't burn the bridge just because your story gets cut, or dropped - don't make it personal in the wrong way! In doing this, they may even follow up with you later on a new lead.
- Consider hiring a PR specialist or content writer to spruce up your press release and email outreach. Our parent-company, Custom Content Factory offers online press release and blog writing services.
- Develop your email signature. Make sure to include your social media accounts and all contact information.
- Make your subject line a simple, no-nonsense headline, rather than a boring explanation of the topic.
- Make sure to include documents and embed links to supporting sources, preferably using links in the email itself rather than file attachments.
- Make use of bullet-points and headings to make your pitch easy to read. Include photos and videos where appropriate.
- Be creative with your press release. Depending on the industry, some journalists may prefer a less formal approach. Consider making a video press release.
- Be ready for a follow-up. Make sure your contacts are available for an interview, and make it a high priority to make follow-up information easily accessible.
They may read your pitch without responding. Sometimes the story might not be right for the current news cycle, and it's simply impossible to cover every interesting pitch that comes their way. As long as you keep trying, you are leaving an impression. If they don't run your story, they may still give it mention in a roundup or another article related to your story.