Every entrepreneur wants to land that prime piece of media coverage to boost their visibility, credibility, and sales. As Jane Russell said, "Publicity can be terrible. But only if you don't have any."
Here are seven tips to increase your likelihood of scoring powerful publicity:
1. Tailor Your Pitch to the Reporter's Publication and Their Beat
Reporters are slammed with pitches, sometimes upwards of 100 per day. They can smell a "spray and pray" mass pitch in no time flat and will throw it in the "pass" pile just as quickly.
Take the time to customize your pitch to be appropriate for the media outlet you're targeting. This means you'll need to think about their viewer or reader demographics and spin the pitch angle so that it resonates with that group. Make yourself familiar with their programming and stay close to that tone.
Additionally, larger outlets may have multiple reporters who you'd like to pitch, with each handling a different beat. For instance, a growing health-oriented start-up might consider pitching separate reporters for the business and health beats at the same publication...and the pitch should be modified accordingly for these different audiences.
2. Provide Proof of Concept
Busy reporters don't have time to research you, your company, or your performance. Ultimately, they are looking for content that will drive views and readership - so establish that there's demand for your story as soon as possible.
If you've received a wave of awards, other recent media coverage, or can share growth numbers, working those into your pitch will help the reporter understand why an audience will care about your story and why it is news.
3. Keep it Succinct
Your pitch will be considered and reviewed in minutes, if not seconds. Set aside some time to just write the first few sentences of your pitch. Then, rewrite them and rewrite them again until these sentences hit the reader over the head with the compelling point of your pitch. If you don't hook the reporter quickly, you don't stand a chance to land coverage.
4. Make The Reporter's Job Easy
Don't you love it when an employee walks into your office with a problem and then presents a well-thought out solution or two for your consideration? Of course you do. It makes your job easier.
The same is true of reporters. The easier you can make it for them to pull together the story, the better. For example, note who is available for an interview and whether you have license-free footage or images available that could be used to build out the piece.
5. Don't Call
No reporter is going to pick up the phone and take your pitch. Send an email or connect with the reporter via social media (Twitter is great for this) and ask how they prefer to be pitched.
6. Tie Your Pitch to An Event or Anniversary
Media outlets often run stories around themes related to holidays, events, or anniversaries. Use tools like National Day Calendar to find day, week, or month observations that can be tied into your story (think "National Small Business Day" - but there are plenty of fun ones, too!).
To capitalize on local news angles, create a calendar of major community events and anniversaries and pitch your story idea. Pitch lead times vary by outlet and format (print, broadcast, etc) - but for a local story, one month of lead time should cover you.
7. Enlist the Help of a Publicist
Clearly, pitching effectively takes a lot of planning and effort. Hiring a publicist to handle this for you can be a worthwhile investment, even if it's just for a three- to six-month term.
A strong publicist will take the planning and pitch writing off your plate and has existing relationships with the media that will open more doors much faster than a cold pitch. Find a firm with specific expertise in your area to leverage the deepest connections.
As with any type of marketing, measuring the ROI of publicity can be a challenge. But with so many new products and services launching every day, can you really afford not to pursue it?
Whether you tackle it in-house or hire a firm to help, a nice publicity hit can bring a surge of follow-on attention from other reporters to reward your efforts.