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Although I’ve always wanted to say that, that’s not really what today is about. What we want to learn is how to make the press, aka the media, stop and take notice of you.
If you are an expert or have a story to tell, one of the best means for free publicity is to get press coverage.
As a veteran newspaper girl and Emmy award-winning network TV reporter – who used to get about a hundred pitches a day in my e-mail in-box – I know the press can be a cynical, surly bunch.
But, now, more than ever, reporters need to compete in a 24/7 news cycle. They are always looking for content from new sources.
Paid publicists and PR agencies will charge to pitch you. If you can’t afford their services, here are a few doable tips to begin getting the word out about you – by yourself.
Know ‘em before you need ‘em. Begin your research now by reading and watching your local press outlets, include worthy blogs and radio shows. Make a list of names of reporters and hosts. Follow them on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn if you can. Begin to engage -not stalk – them by adding relevant comments to articles or other items they may post. Invite them to coffee! Seriously, the point here is to try and establish relationships before you pitch anything.
Prep before you pitch. Write your provocative headline. Know your main themes and points. Practice speaking in soundbites (good for electronic and written interviews) before you make your first pitch. What if a reporter or producer says, “Yes?”
Be grabby. Since you’re likely going to send your pitch to a reporter’s already jam-packed email in-box, aim for the most attention-getting , yet accurate (don’t get tossed out with the Viagra nonsense) subject line you can think of. Once you get them, don’t lose them. In the email itself, write a compelling pitch too.
Make sure there’s a hook. Consider your angles. Are you a child psychologist and it’s back to school time? An international manager who can speak about a business issue currently making headlines? Try to find something to “hook” yourself to and you’ll have a much better chance being interviewed, then to simply try and land a story only on you and your issue.
Keep it short! Nobody wants to read more than a few short paragraphs. Use bullets to say why readers / viewers will be interested in your story/article/whatever it is. Make sure you’re contact information is easy to find. Don’t ramble. Don’t be boring.
Don’t give up. Don’t be a total nuisance, but do keep trying every few weeks to reposition your pitch idea until the reporter gives you a definite yes or no. Then, if it’s no, go on to your next – timely and relevant – pitch idea and start again!
Like any worthwhile relationship, the process of courting the media is a long-time affair. It may take six months before you see any return love. And don’t aim for the most popular girl (or guy ) in school: meaning sure, you’d like to see yourself with a large network, but at first, think small.
More often than not, you’ll need some local news media coverage to practice being interviewed. Then, you can use your local news appearances as leverage when you begin courting the networks and national publications.
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