How to work with the media and get journos to say, “I’ll publish that!”

As an entrepreneur, start-up, small business or someone with a great idea, it can be frustrating to get the media's attention. You live and breathe it but selling the awesomeness of your idea or brand to the media powers that be is very difficult.

The great news is, it's systematic. It requires a great offering (which you already have) but there's an art to pitching and getting journos to say, "right, I'll publish that!"

Now you probably don't need to hire a publicist, nor do you need thousands of dollars. You do, however, need to know about the fundamentals and etiquette of getting a journalist's attention.

Know your audience

This is marketing 101 and it holds true for pitching to the media. Journalists will see through a template-type email that's been sent, on-mass. Yes, you can reiterate your key points with every email you send, but make sure it addresses addressing their unique needs.

Every outlet with have their own characteristics and content style, so tailor your pitch to appeal to this specific audience and learn what type of content is published to identify opportunities. Aim to solve a problem and you'll have greater success.

Start with localised media

It's easier to get new media attention when you've got past coverage to show. But, paradoxically, it's difficult to get that first pitch. An effective approach is to start with localised media, like the regional newspapers, radio or TV. From there, you can use that media asset as leverage to work your way up to state, national and international coverage.

What's timely?

Even if you've never been featured in a media outlet, it doesn't mean you'll get an automatic "no, sorry." If you can tie your idea or brand in with a timely conversation or topical issue, the more likely it is that your pitch is picked up.

Ask yourself if your offer is relevant? Let's say right now, for example, you're launching a health app. Can you tie it into the public health dialogue? Find the link, value and interest story.

The pitch process

There's an art with how to pitch. Use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to discover who the journalists are and engage with them. You want your email to fall into the right inbox (or message feed). Crafting the subject line and email creatively (and succinctly) is critical. Keep it to around three paragraphs.

Introduce yourself, quickly say why they should listen to you (I'm XYZ, have been published in, past recognition etc), touch on a pain point of theirs ('I know you're busy'), then lead into the solution (your offering) and why it's relevant right now.

Include links of relevant work and any past media coverage. Write a subject line that sparks curiosity and stands out in their inbox. Something like, if we're using the health app analogy: The Health App that could outsmart COVID. And the last piece is attaching the press release, which holds your pitch up.

How to write the press release

Journalists are busy, so the stronger your press release, the greater your chances of success - because much of the work is already done for them. Your press release should include the following:

  • A hooky headline that nails the interest/benefit to journo (& readers)
  • An intro in that covers the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. The most important information comes first.
  • The second paragraph should go into more detail and include a relevant quote
  • The remaining information should cover relevant facts, more quotes, and company information.
  • Contact details for the journalist to follow up

Try not to go beyond one page, approximately 500 words. Hook them in with the headline and first paragraph, if possible.

You don't have to go about your business journey alone. You can book in for free 1-on1 sessions with Entrepreneurship Facilitator Service, Switch Start Scale.

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