One integral part of about being a business owner is the ability to market yourself. Many business owners are great at what they do, but if nobody knows about them, then it all goes for naught. When I founded my own firm, I was excited about the prospects of marketing myself. My blog was a start, but I also wanted to cross over into traditional media channels. Through various networking channels that I'm apart of, I was able to get some good real first hand info on the best way to approach reporters with your pitch. I know this is a bit off topic than what I usually write about it, but I thought it would be a good resource for any new business owners looking to get their name out there.
1. Return calls quickly
If you ever get a call from a reporter, you better return the call immediately. This is even if you absolutely know you can’t help the reporter with his/her question or story. Why? Let me give you three reasons:
- The reporter will remember that you called back quickly and tried to be helpful, and is more likely to try you again the next time around than if you weren’t
- You may know exactly the person the reporter needs to speak to instead of you (another thing the reporter will remember)
- Despite your modesty, you may actually be exactly what the reporter needs.
This has helped immensely in getting repeat callbacks from my local news. So well, in fact, that I'm a regular on their morning show.
2. Be generous.
Unfortunately, not every phone call or interview will result in a media exposure. If giving up 20 minutes of your time without a resulting press mention feels like an incredible waste of your time, then you don’t have the constitution to deal with the press. You have to have confidence there will be an eventual payoff, even if there are no guarantees. Think of it as prospecting for clients–eventually some of your time & effort will pay off, but you can’t predict where or when.
3. Be brief.
When in doubt, answer questions with fewer words, not more (but complete your sentences — once you start a thought, finish it). If you’re not sure whether you’ve answered a reporter’s question (either you may have misunderstood it or he/she wants more detail), just ask whether you answered their question. (Not a strategy to use on live tv/radio, though.)
The above three are applicable with how to be a good source…as for getting coverage, one key piece of advice is this:
4. Have ideas.
Since my blog has grown, I receive countless offers for people to write for my blog or ask me to promote their product. Most, if not all, are immediately cast away into my beloved trash bin. Ever so often, I do get a really good idea. Sitting on this side of the table has helped me realize what exactly a reporter is looking for.
What reporters remember, and what they look for, are ideas–ideas that are distinctive, ideas that people are passionate about. That is the type of things that reporters want to hear from you, whether by email, by phone or in chance conversation, because those can be turned into stories or parts of stories. (And reporters just like talking to people with interesting ideas.) Any time I have a decent blog post idea, I will always shoot it to a few news reporters in a press release format. Do I always get a bite? Of course not. But being consistent and having a clear message has definitely paid off decently.
5. Be pushy, to an extent.
If you’ve emailed a reporter a pitch you think is incredibly appropriate for his/her publication or broadcast but hear nothing in return, please follow up a few days later. Maybe the reporter just didn’t see it in all the email noise. Maybe the reporter thought about getting back to you but got interrupted & then forgot. Maybe the reporter isn’t interested in that idea but thinks you’re interesting enough to talk to about something else. Follow up. Just don’t expect that if you’ve emailed something at 10 a.m. that the reporter has read it and wants to talk about it at 11.