Secure Media Coverage With These 8 Tips
You send out a news release and it gets picked up by a few local media outlets. Hooray! You're feeling good, as you should. You send out another release a few weeks later and-nothing. You follow up and again, no response. Welcome to the life of a public relations professional. The truth is, not everything you send will interest a reporter. The good news is there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of news coverage. In celebration of Elevate's eighth birthday, here are eight tips to securing news coverage:
1. Know your reporters
Browse the website of the outlet you'd like to pitch and search for the reporter bios section. Here you'll find the reporter's "beat" (the specific topics they cover), what they are passionate about, and what their life entails outside of the newsroom. Maybe they are heavily involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation or have a love for animals. You can also follow them on social media to gain an even better understanding of who they are, what they like to do and what makes them tick. Once you have this information, you can send a pitch directly to the reporter, specifically tailored to their interests.
2. Know your outlet
Make sure you have actually read the publication, watched the channel or listened to the station before you make a pitch to ensure your pitch contains content that would interest the media outlet. For example, if you're pitching a lighthearted morning show, the angle of your pitch should follow the style of the show. This is definitely not the time to bust out a sleepy news release and far from uplifting fact sheet. In this case, think fun, fresh and engaging.
3. Get creative
When you submit a news release, know that hundreds, if not thousands of people are vying for the same coverage and submitting THE most important news of the century (or so we all think.) Odds are, your standard release or event alert are bound to get lost amid the email shuffle. Who said things must be digital? Why not drop by the news station with a hard copy of the news release accompanied by a sample of the new product you're trying to promote? It's hard to lose free samples... Then follow-up with an email and digital copy of the release when you get back to your desk.
4. It's all in the timing
Follow the news to stay on top of trends and current events. If possible, align your pitch with something that's relevant and newsworthy at the time. Producers and assignment editors will love you for this. For example, the week leading up to Small Business Saturday is a great time to pitch the expansion of a local business. Likely, the outlet already plans to cover Small Business Saturday so your story idea may conveniently help them fill that time slot or page space.
5. Help a Reporter Out (HARO)
When a reporter needs a source for a story, viewpoint or quote, oftentimes they'll post their request to helpareporter.com. You can subscribe to daily alerts that will notify you of the latest reporter requests. Typically, these reporters are from national outlets, which means huge audience exposure.
Many outlets, magazines and radio stations especially, have strict deadlines to follow. If you're unsure of their deadlines, reach out and ask. Once you're familiar with publication schedules, you'll know the perfect time to pitch your story ideas.
7. Supporting images and documents
Make it as easy as possible for a producer or editor to run your story. Aside from the standard press release, attach supporting documents and images to your pitch. Odds are, you'll eventually be asked for this information. Conveniently equipping a news outlet with everything they'll need to publish your story can better your chances of getting it picked up.
8. Follow up and don't get discouraged
Pitching the media can be challenging. Unfortunately, not everything you pitch is going to get picked up. Above all, don't let this discourage you; follow up and be persistent. We recommend following up within two to five days after your initial pitch via email. If you still don't receive a response, a phone call may be a good option. Your determination will pay off. Happy pitching!