The good news is that media outlets are constantly searching for stories and people who will capture and captivate the attention of their audiences. What this means for you and your organization is that right now (TODAY) is the best time for you to reach out and earn some of the millions of dollars of free publicity (and media attention) that is available every day.
So just how do you impress the media and stick out in a sea of wannabes? First and foremost, don’t waste their valuable time. Virtually, every media outlet today is operating in this tough economic climate with fewer staff than they had last year. This means that they still have the same pressing deadlines and space to fill but they don’t have enough staff to do it.
If you want your pitch to stick out above and beyond the tens of thousands that cross their desk today – it has to be memorable, relevant and thorough.
In fact here are my TOP 5 Tips to guarantee you attract and maintain media attention no matter what product or service you are selling.
1. What is going on in the news? Do yourself a favour and keep up to date on the latest newsworthy headlines and happenings? Who’s hot and who’s not? What is the general public worried about right now TODAY? You can never hope to “make the news” if you have no idea what is going on in the news. You will never gain publicity by trying to sell your product or service to the media. The key is to make what you do relevant in the context of what is happening today in the news. Tie what you do to someone or something that is newsworthy and you will become the go-to-expert for top shows, magazines and newspapers.
2. Custom Tailor The Story To EACH Audience – In order to receive publicity you need to offer custom-tailored that appeal to a media outlet’s target audience (in terms of appeal, style and structure). If you don’t read a particular publication, chances are that it will be almost impossible for you to hit the target with the editor. Reporters get thousands of pitches every day – if it doesn’t fit squarely within what they do, they will simply toss it in the garbage. It is better to send out 2 custom pitches a day that are carefully crafted than 100 generic emails or faxes that are too broad to appeal to anyone.
3. When in doubt, create your own news – The other day I got a call from a national news organization who heard that 1/3 of the population suffers from insomnia. They immediately wanted to come down to my office that very day and interview me about it. Now, insomnia has been around since the beginning of time. Why did it become a pressing national news story that Tuesday at 9am in Melbourne? The answer is because it became relevant to someone in real terms. 1/3 of the general population is a lot of people. If something affects a lot of people, it becomes instantly newsworthy. The trick is to take some aspect of what you do and make it tangible and real (as a problem) to the lives of many.
4. Promote News – Most story ideas in the media are created almost verbatim from press releases that are submitted. In fact sometimes, they will take your story and print it without even bothering to contact you for more information. Spend the time to build a short and concise (fully-contained story). If you make it easy for them to utilize you and your work, you will be rewarded handsomely for it.
5. Follow the story and add to it – If you watch carefully you will notice that the media tends to follow a story for an extended period of time. Take the “chick-chick-boom girl” or “Cory the bogan party boy”. Even though there was no real underlying story, how long did the general public have to endure the national news coverage of those two talent-poor individuals? Enough said. It is absolutely critical to track the pulse of hot news stories and be on the lookout for opportunities to enhance the story by contributing insights and expert commentary. When it comes to major breaking stories, the media will constantly be on the look-out for related subjects which add to the story or new angles that are fresh and captivating.
At the end of the day, the media runs on news and they are not in the business of selling your products or services. Follow the news and become newsworthy and you will increase your chances of becoming tomorrow’s breaking news – in a good way!
By Andrea Semrau 20 Jun 2013
Excellent post. As a journalist and author, I see far too many people trying to pitch their product or service, instead of the news. These emails go straight to the bin. NO ones cares – they are boring and a waste of time. I hope more entrepreneurs take your advice.
By Nick Tikanich 20 Jun 2013
I must say that I haven’t had much luck with PRs myself. This post sheds a lot of light on things. I might come back now and re-think our strategy. Do you have any other tips or resources I can look at?