Publicity Tips from the Pros
If you want to know the best way to approach the media, get advice directly from the source: the editors, producers and journalists who choose the stories that get publicity. Here are some of the best tips I've gotten from media representatives about getting your story in the news.
Be familiar with the show or publication. Your pitch should be about how your story will work for them. Don't do a general pitch ("A story about dog training.") but suggest the segment the story would be right for, or what makes it right for them.
Don't take "no" personally. It may be that they have just done a similar story, or they can't fit it in, or it just isn't right for them. If you speak with someone, ask if they can suggest another show or publication where the story might work.
If at first you don't succeed, pitch again. But wait at least a month or two, and come back with a different angle (not exactly the same idea that got turned down).
Many now prefer e-mail pitches to fax. E-mail can be reviewed quickly, and can be easily forwarded to several others in the newsroom. Faxes often pile up unread, but e-mail gets looked at.
Keep your e-mail short and to the point. DON'T send any attachments, as they will be deleted unopened (if they get through at all), but you can include a link to your web site or online media kit.
Online media kits are an effective way for the media to get more information about you. When you send a press release (by mail, fax or e-mail) include a link to your online media kit. The online media kit can include your bio, photos, articles written by or about you, the topics you can comment on, a list of suggested questions (with or without the answers), product fact sheets, and anything else that explains more about you, your products and services, and your topics.
When you e-mail, make your subject line enticing. Using "Hi!" or something else that looks like spam will get it deleted without being read. Start with QUERY: or PITCH: then give a short, punchy headline.
One national TV show producer said that you didn't need to send tape with your initial (mail) pitch, but another said if you mailed a pitch with no video you wouldn't be considered. In either case, you will need a video of other TV appearances before you get on a national show, so be on the safe side and send it.
Local media are always looking for local experts to interview on a variety of topics. Send them your bio and credentials and they will keep you on file for the next time they need an expert in your field. Even better, send one or more Rolodex(tm) cards with your topics and contact information.
If your story isn't right for them at this time, they may save your press release and contact you in the future. Don't be surprised if you get a phone call weeks or months after you sent your pitch.
Journalists are busy people, and they get hundreds or thousands of press releases and pitches every week. Make your story interesting and make it easy for them to work with you, and you will have an edge.
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