What could be better than a big media pick-up? Especially today when the story appears on television, is live streamed, available online, shareable virtually everywhere.
Easy to score that kind of media hit, right?
Do you know how many people pitch stories only to have it go no where? Yup, too many to list here. Yet some think all they have to do is contact a local media person or even a national media outlet and they’ll score a perfectly shareable story.
Sorry. It doesn’t work that way.
And, if you’re lucky enough to catch the eye of an editor or producer, you better be on your A Game to get the story you want on the air or online. And I’m here to share some tips on how to do it.
1) Is your story newsworthy?
If it’s your story, of course you think it’s newsworthy. The real questions are:
- Is your story a good fit for the media outlet you’re pitching to?
- Will their audience be interested in reading or watching what you have to say?
- What can you do to make your story more interesting and relevant to the media outlet’s market?
Here’s an example, Inside INdiana Business celebrates successful companies across the state on their television program. SIMBA Chain’s story is a perfect fit for the program’s format and audience. The startup company was founded in South Bend using technology created at and licensed from the University of Dame. SIMBA Chain had just raised $1.5 million from Indiana investors. When I pitched the story two weeks ago, SIMBA Chain’s story hit all the right notes for Inside Indiana Business. Find SIMBA Chain’s media hit here.
2) Be realistic. You’re not always going to get a hit.
Just because you put out a press release does not mean you’re going to get a media hit. Even great stories get overlooked. It may be a busy news day and all of the reporters are already committed. Or, the news director doesn’t quite “get” your story if the topic is complicated. Or, the editor has no idea who you are so they run with a story submitted by someone they do know. Or maybe the editor just doesn’t like what you’re selling.
My advice: don’t be discouraged. It happens to the best of us. I pitched a strong story that went nowhere last Tuesday with the exception of one radio interview. It was a busy news day nationally and locally; we were competing with the presidential impeachment hearings and the start of the New Mexico state legislature’s session. Both were enough to be overlooked. I was also a new face to many of the media folks I was pitching. My next move? The same client has another significant announcement this week so I’ll circle back with a new pitch and the updated announcement. If at first you don’t succeed, pitch, pitch again!
3) If you do get a media hit, make sure you follow through quickly on all requests so you make the editor’s or producer’s life easy. This one is huge. Media people are busy, juggling dozens of stories at once. If someone asks you for a high res photo, to schedule an interview or to get them background information, you get it to them pronto. If you’re a real pro, have all of your digital assets and subject matter experts prepped and ready ahead of time so your response time is minutes and not hours or days.
Here’s another example. When I booked SIMBA Chain’s Joel Neidig on Inside INdiana Business, producer Tara Twigg requested a list of things she needed: talking points, head shot of Joel, a photo representing blockchain to use as a digital backdrop, video b-roll, and the company’s logo. I made sure Tara had everything on her list a week before the interview. I also made sure Joel was prepped. As a result, everything went off without a hitch. Another plus, the next time I pitch a story to Inside INdiana Business, they’ll remember how easy I made it to do the story.
4) Take the interview seriously. If you’re the one being interviewed, don’t wing it. Prepare for the interview just as you would a final exam. Make a list of the three most important points you want to make. Say them out loud. Look in a mirror and say them again. Get to know them you could repeat them in your sleep. Anticipate your questions. Practice answering them with one of your three main points. (Yes, it’s redundant, but that’s how you get your point across. Next, get a good night’s sleep. Be ready to do the interview ten minutes in advance if it’s a phone interview or, if it’s in person, arrive well before the interview is set to start so you can relax, walk through your three points one last time and smile when the producer comes to take you back to the set.
5) Post interview, collect all of the story links and share on your website, social media platforms, in newsletters, with your team and even your mom. You worked hard to get the story so make it go as far as you can. Find more pro tips in this previous Lux-Writes blog.
6) Hire a public relations professional who can help. If you’re a busy executive or even a corporate communications person, it makes sense to have a public relations firm or freelance PR professional who handles media relations for you. They write your releases, pitch to the media, handle all story prep for you, coach you, collect the clips and links, and share them out. Make sure you engage someone with experience, who knows the editors and producers you’re after or, at a minimum, knows how to get in the door, and who has impeccable follow-up. Your life will be so much easier and your media hits will be that much better.