Call the Newspaper!
Earning press mentions and media is invaluable marketing. Press opportunities often are free and help you reach people outside your usual audience. But how do you get the press to bite? By offering a delicious story, of course.
These days, you can’t just send out a mass press release to a long list of people. Well, you could, and it wouldn’t necessarily hurt. But a personalized and succinct pitch will likely be more effective in earning press coverage.
Curating a relationship with the press is not about using bait-and-switch tactics. It’s about developing a partnership between you and your contacts, one that helps build your brand by curating a list of advocates that are fans of your work and eager to share your news, just like a friend.
Step 1: Curate a Media List
You will need a general media list of people who are interested in your company or organization. To curate this, you will need to do some research. Look for publications that appeal to your target demographic, general interests, industries, or area. Find editors and writers and personnel that would hopefully find your work interesting. Keep their name, title, and contact information in a spreadsheet and categorize it by industry, publications, and other relevant categories.
You will want to begin to establish relationships within your list. This could be done in several ways, but a great first start would be introducing yourself and your organization and the kind of work you do. Let them know that you are looking forward to partnering with them on content. Make sure you’ve done your research and read articles by the writer you are talking to or watched segments of the newscaster’s work to make sure they would be a good fit for you.
People to look for
- Writers, editors, journalists in newspapers
- Podcast hosts
- TV anchors, reporters
- Industry/trade publications
- Social media influencers
- Community managers (for social groups, area interest groups)
If you’re unsure where to begin searching for these people, we recommend going with the classic hack: Google. For example, if you’re a STEAM education non-profit looking for people to partner with, try searching for robotics groups, business publications, PTAs, or other community groups. Then, reach out to their leaders or managers, let them know you’re looking for people to partner with, and ask if you can add them to your list. They may even know more people who are interested!
Suppose you’re a for-profit company, like an up-and-coming whiskey distillery. In that case, it’s still about developing partnerships, but it may look like getting to know area suppliers and bartenders, what publications they read, who they follow, and how they get their industry news. Then, invest in those sources, knowing that that’s where the people look for inspiration and updates.
Step 2: Craft Your Pitch
Reporters, writers, and community managers are inundated with pitches daily. Yours needs to stick out. Keep these things in mind.
Tell a Story
Craft your story. Share the emotional connection, the unique appeal of your product, announcement, or event, why it’s important, and why people should care. An easy formula would be sharing your brand statement, a brief testimonial, case study, and essential details.
Refrain from writing your release as a sales copy to keep the content newsworthy and reader-friendly. An engaging pitch to introduce your release will give the reporter an accurate idea of what you’re offering as a story idea. Keep your pitch short (5 lines maximum and answer the five w’s: who, what, where, when, why.
Attach a fact sheet PDF in the email. In case this story isn’t a good fit now, the writer will have all your necessary info to reach back out later.
Keep it Succinct
Keep it sweet and simple. Just because you’re sharing your story doesn’t mean you’re writing a novel. Your reader likely will be scanning through your email. Break it up into short paragraphs, bullet points, and accessible listing of contact information and important dates. Give your press contacts everything they need to make their job easier, like links, contact info, photos, and relative documents/materials.
Add a Personal Touch
If you’ve been working on curating your contact list, then this part should be relatively easy. Personally address your pitch to whomever you are sending it. Let them know why you are reaching out to them specifically; maybe you’ve loved a specific segment or article they did about a similar company or organization, or you’ve been following their work and admire some of their recent projects.
Hi Kelcie! We love your work with Tastes of Kansas City and Unbridaled. I’m Madelynne, and my business partner Abby and I run a local organic wine company that’s women-owned and dedicated to harvesting the best grapes with the honest work of our hands. We’re hosting a media luncheon at our vineyard next Saturday, September 21st from 1-3 pm and would love for you to join. We’ll be giving our guests a tour of the vineyard and our venue offerings. We’re open to all and would love for you to bring a friend to share in the experience. The event will be socially-distanced, and you can reserve your tour time on our website. Attached is our media press kit. You can check out our website at goodgrapes.com and Instagram @goodgrapeswineco.
We’re looking forward to getting to know you. Let us know if you can make it!
This pitch shares the company’s heart and shows that the sender has done their research, followed the recipient’s work, and offered a chance for the recipient to meet and get to know the company while including relevant information.
P.S. Hosting media events is a great way to get to know your contacts and develop a relationship.
Step 3: Publish!
Okay, you’ve got everything set up, with relevant links and documents in hand, you’re good to send! Don’t forget to double-check your name spellings, titles, and personal touches.
You can still send out a mass email updating your contact list. Nonetheless, we recommend dedicating the time to crafting about 6-10 personalized press pitches to people who could be perfect partners for your organization or company.
The release should be sent to all applicable media outlets: broadcast, print, online, and social media influencers. If you are going to send out mass emails, separate them by category, and personalize your pitch. Your pitch for industry trade magazines should probably sound a little more technical than your pitch to social influencers, who care about engagement.
Finally, after a thorough spell-check, SEND!
Bonus: Don’t sleep on your content!
You spent a lot of time crafting the perfect pitch. Reuse some of the universal content you created by sharing quotes or snippets from a press release on social media, event messaging, or other places where you are talking about your update, event, or story.