Media coverage is one of the easiest and most effective ways to spread newsworthy information about your organization. And it’s also one of the best and quickest ways to grow your brand. Also it’s free. But getting past the gatekeepers is a challenge. They are cautious. When they realize you are trying to get coverage for an organization or business, they are thinking you should be talking to someone in advertising.
If you are using an agency, let them pitch. If you are on your own, effective pitching is a skill worth developing. Make sure to avoid these situations if you’d like free media coverage:
- “Dear Sir/Ma’am.”
Generic openings aren’t engaging or personal. Take the time to find out the name of the reporter you want to talk to.
- “I’d like some publicity for my new product.”
Reporters write stories that engage and entertain their readers. Instead of asking them, explain how covering your story would benefit them and the publication as a whole. Also, reporters aren’t publicists, so make sure your pitch is newsworthy.
- “What section is this story most appropriate for?”
Before sending your pitch, make sure you’re familiar with the reporter’s beat and the overall theme of the publication. Asking about the appropriate section shows the journalist that you haven’t done your homework. Make sure you tailor your pitch to the appropriate section.
- “Are you interested in running this story?”
Don’t ask them if they’re interested. Tell them why it is important for their readers for them to cover your story. If you ask them to cover your story instead of explain why they should, you’re less likely to get the results you want. Reporters are on tight deadlines, which mean they probably don’t have time to respond to you.
This one is obvious, and yet so many organizations send in releases with misspellings, grammar errors or AP style issues. Reporters have keen eyes for these types of mistakes, so make sure you don’t lose their respect by making them. Always proofread your information before sending. Depending on the size of the media outlet, they may print your release as is. You certainly don’t want mistakes in it.