Guest Post by Taryn Scher of TK Public Relations (learn more about Taryn at the end of this article):
1. Be prepared: Don’t start reaching out to the media until you have a website that you are proud of and clearly represents your brand, sample inventory that you can send out for photo shoots/testing, clean product photographs (preferably shot on a white background) and a digital media kit. (includes all available product, bios, company info- do not include wholesale information or wholesale prices) Everything else can follow with time, but before you even think about picking up the phone to call a journalist, have all of these ready to go when they ask!
2. Know who your spokesperson will be. Are you camera shy? Do you freeze on interviews or fumble with words? In a perfect world, the owner or founder of the company is the spokesperson but in certain circumstances you might want to think about someone else who is more camera-friendly.
3. Drop everything when the phone rings. If a reporter calls you, you need to call them back within hours- minutes if possible. The same goes for an email. Do not expect a journalist to sit around and wait for your call back. They are always on super fast deadlines, and if you don’t call back immediately, they will find someone else (probably a competitor) who will.
4. Position yourself as an expert in your industry. Some businesses may not lend themselves directly to PR opportunities. Financial planners, lawyers, doctors- you might not necessarily be able to get a PR campaign around your specific business or practice. In this circumstance- You, the individual, need to be the one getting the PR. You should position yourself as an “expert” in your field and try to be quoted whenever possible when your area of expertise is on the discussion board. Contact your local TV stations and newspapers and send them your bio/areas of expertise and make yourself available to them whenever they need someone to comment.
5. Don’t ever try to sell the media. You aren’t trying to get them to BUY your product or service, you simply want to inform them about why it’s better or different than what’s already out there. Avoid flashy sales-like buzz words and stick to the facts. If you’re product/service is that exceptional, they’ll be able to see that based on the information alone.
6. Pay attention to the news. When William and Kate were about to get married- everything Brittish became HOT- so any opportunity to promote anything Kate was wearing (Get the Look for Less!) or “possible honeymoon destinations for royalty” were opportunities to pitch the media. There is always something fresh and relevant for TV and newspaper coverage too.
7. Find something newsworthy. Every once in a while, even if you have a product that is perfect for a PR campaign, you might need to be creative. You may need to come up with a reason to get some PR. Media always want to know what’s new, what’s different, what’s timely. In looking for a reason to stay relevant for one of my clients that makes custom Superhero Capes, I found out that National Superhero Day is April 28 (it’s true! It was started by a group of employees at Marvel Comics in 1995). So, I began contacting every TV station nationwide (after all it is NATIONAL Superhero Day) and asking their anchors and morning show hosts if they would consider wearing a custom superhero cape on April 28 to celebrate.
8. Know who you are pitching. The best thing you can do is familiarize yourself with the publications or TV programs you are trying to pitch. As a basic rule of thumb, they’re only going to cover topics that are relevant to their content. Unfortunately if you represent women’s jewelry, chances are no matter how hard you try and auto magazine is never going to feature your jewelry (unless you happen to offer jewelry in the shape of cars). Be smart about who you are pitching and what you are pitching! Don’t waste your time reaching out to publications that are too much of a stretch. Go for the obvious choices.
9. Quality not Quantity. Don’t waste your time blanketing every publication East of the Mississippi. Where are your customers hanging out? What magazines are they reading? What TV shows are they watching? Don’t say all of them. Make a Top 20 and pitch each one differently and targeted to their readership/viewership. What good are 5,000 media placements if no one is reading those magazines who you are trying to reach?
10. How to Pitch a Journalist. If you can’t sum up what you’re trying to say in 3 or 4 sentences, you are definitely going to lose interest. Reporters barely make it past your first sentence. If you are lucky and they’re still interested, they will read on. But do not pitch a 3 page expose about your client, their history, family, future plans, etc. Keep it short and to the point. If you get a bite, the reporter will definitely ask for more information.
Taryn Scher is President of TK PR (www.tkpublicrelations.com)