Has a journalist ever shot you down?
Don't feel too bad because it's a common occurrence in our field. I can't tell you how many times I've tried to pitch a story about my business to a reporter, and he or she has told me they're not interested.
That's because journalists can smell PR miles away. And they'll call you out on it. The only way to get a reporter to start to listen to you is to know your story and to tell it well.
Journalists want to write stories about people who are making a difference in the world, not just those selling a product or service. If you can make your pitch less promotional and more personal, you'll be starting off on a good foot in the newsroom.
But there's another part that is critical: It's about relationships. Read on to learn seven uncommon ways I learned to connect with journalists and convince them to promote my brand:
Way #1: You rub their back...
One way to grab the attention of a journalist is to begin promoting his or her work. The more you can use psychology principles in your efforts, the better. Everyone likes compliments. Everyone wants to feel like their work is making a difference.
So become an avid reader of the reporter you are grooming to be your advocate. Share his or her work on your blog or social media platforms.
Garner more readers for your journalist as a precursor to asking for a story.
Way #2: Establish a relationship in person
Once you're off to a good start forming a relationship with your journalist online, expand your efforts to the in-person meeting. This is always better for communication and bonding.
Journalists hear hundreds of pitches from promoters every day. They're not going to remember you or your story unless they personally get to know you.
So try to meet your reporter in person so that you can establish a stronger relationship.
Way #3: Gather stories
With all of the press releases journalists get in their inboxes every day, you need to set yourself apart. A key way to do that is to share real stories about how your business is changing lives or making your community better.
Journalists have to be very careful about the businesses they write about because they can't be seen as favoring their sources. So you'll have to become an expert at gathering great anecdotes that communicate value and difference.
What is so unique about your business that no one else is doing? Be truthful and authentic in your approach and in the stories you tell, and your reporter's interest just might get piqued.
Pro tip: Invest in visual storytelling, such as a video that tells those stories, and send your journalist a link. At the same time, begin building a library of assets that will make it easier for your journalist to tell your business' story. For example, you might create a photo library or a B-roll gallery for video. Give them the assets that make it more likely to invest in your story and get it to press.
Way #4: Use data to tell your story
Your pitch needs to have a strong, truthful anecdote, but that story you are telling also should be backed up with data.
Metrics re-inforce your anecdotes and help sell your point to a reporter because numbers are cold, hard facts.
And that's not a truth that is only good for the journalist. It's also good for your customer base. Customers want to learn that your business has a proven-track record and help them solve big problems. Show this through the data you are collecting.
Way #5: Get behind a cause
If you can't sell to a reporter on the stories of your clients alone, then you may want to find a way to make a difference in another way. Hold a fundraiser or become a sponsor of a community charity event.
Simply by being attached to the goodwill event, you will get mentioned in the article.
Way #6: Bad press is good press?
Sometimes it can be. Know that if a journalist does decide to write about your business, then you don't have a lot of control over what he or she uncovers. Accept that the story that is printed in the newspaper may not be completely positive.
Do what you can to mold that story, but remember that the more authentic your story is told, the more trust you are building with your reporter and ultimately with your new customers.
Way #7: Try again
What a lot of business owners don't realize at first is that most pitches fail with journalists. They know PR when they see and hear it. But that doesn't mean you should give up.
We all make embarrassing mistakes when trying to connect with influencers, whether it be offline or online. And trust me, I've made more than my fair share.
It just means you need practice. Try again. Experiment with new approaches. Get better stories. Refine that pitch which includes the problems you are solving in the world.
With that kind of strategy, you may fail a little less. In fact, you'll be on the path to succeeding and getting the story that you want.
In conclusion, applying basic relationship principles really helps in your effort to connect with journalists and get them to promote you. Over time, you begin to build a relationship of trust.
You'll learn what they are looking for, and you'll tweak your approach to focus on real storytelling and how your business is making an impact on the world. You'll learn to be more authentic and real. And there's nothing better than to capture the attention of a reporter than that.
What connection can you make today that will amp up your PR tomorrow?