I started out as a journalist. And though I’ve strayed a bit from the Lois Lane lane, I spent enough time wearing a reporter’s shoes to learn a few things.
Now, I wear a publicist’s hat, but our clients gain from my former life in the journalism realm. Here are my quick tips for getting media coverage.
Tip #1: Do your homework.
Know what your journalist writes about. Don’t pitch a story about rooftop gardens to a sports columnist. And whatever topic you’re covering, be sure to do your research, back it up with data, and fact-check your sources.
Tip #2: Have a heart.
Like the cat that hates to be scratched behind his ears, reporters can be fickle in the way they like to be contacted. If your busy journalist prefers a short, concise email (and most of them do) vs. a phone call or lengthy press release with a million attachments, then that’s how you should pitch your story idea to them.
Tip #3: Get to the point.
Just like any good news article, use an attention-grabbing headline and hit ’em with the Five Ws. If it’s compelling, they’ll want more info.
Tip #4: Make it easy.
Include a URL that links to more info so your reporter can do some poking around and, who knows, maybe decide to post to Facebook or Twitter. That’s coverage. Don’t attach a .PDF or any other file the reporter then has to open. They won’t open it.
Tip #5: Track it.
Set up a Google Alert for yourself/client/company if you haven’t already. Sometimes journalists will post coverage online without ever notifying you (sneaky, sneaky) and a Google Alert will give you a heads up.
Just remember, journalists are people too. Be clear, concise, and honest. They want to create a compelling story for their readers. All you need to do is give them easy access to all the ingredients they’ll need to do it.