Let’s address your PR fears right up front. You’re afraid to call reporters because:
You don’t feel worthy.
You don’t think your product’s worthy.
You just hate making cold calls.
You find it intimidating.
Believe it or not, reporters are not scary, unfriendly alien creatures. They’re people like you and me, looking to do their job – which means finding intriguing stories about interesting people and companies. They’re always on the lookout for great stories about new products.
In other words, you may be doing them a favor picking up the phone and making the call.
But before you dial their number, here are five key things to keep in mind when it comes to dealing with the press so you can take maximum advantage of the situation:
Reporters are always on deadline, which means they only have a limited time to talk to you.Make sure you’re fully prepared so you can efficiently provide the information they need to know all about your story. This means…
Before you do anything, get your press kit ready.
If a reporter’s interested in hearing more about who you are and what your company’s about, they’ll ask for your press kit. They’ll take you much more seriously if you have one ready to send them because it means you’ve compiled your company’s key media information in an easy to digest format.
What should you put in a press kit? Your company’s bio, your bio, a catalog or line sheet showing your products and a few articles or press releases about your company.
Get your pitch or “story” down to a 30 to 60 second pitch.
Reporters get calls and emails all the time and they really appreciate it if you introduce yourself and your story in a brief and well-organized manner. State your name, your company’s name and what your product is. Then describe what makes your story unique and colorful. What accomplishments have you had so far? Why do customers like your product? Why would your story be something that would capture their audience’s attention?
Your story is basically the story they’ll write. The clearer it is to you, the clearer it will be to the reporters you talk to. Write up a press release and have it ready. For pointers, visit ClearPublicist.com.
Do your research before you call.
Make sure you and your company are appropriate material for the media outlet you’re contacting. Do your research! You wouldn’t pitch a story about sailboats to Seventeen magazine, or a story about how well your organic home cleaner cleans up bubble gum to The Economist.
Be sure it relates to the style of their magazine and show them the “angle” that they can write about.
Where should I start?
It’s fine to start trying to pitch the majors from the get-go. But realize they’ll probably track you for a while to make sure you’re not a flash in the pan and that you’ll be able to deliver if they give you that kind of publicity for your product.
A great place to start, believe it or not, is your hometown newspaper. Hometowns love to hear about homegrown success stories! Once you have one article or media appearance under your belt, you can build things up from there.
How do you get into the major media outlets?
Sometimes you’ll get a few good placements quickly, but more likely you’ll have to be patient. It’s like anything else – persistence pays off. Keep letting them know you’re out there. Don’t be a pest, but contact them again when you have some great news or a special occasion makes it appropriate to pitch again or issue a press release – Mother’s Day’s coming, for example, and you sell T-shirts with great sayings about moms.
Keep coming up with fresh takes on your story. That increases your chances tremendously.
Be polite and don’t nag them. Also be available for them when they’re ready for you. Use the same attitude with them as you would your potential customers – because, ideally, that’s who’ll be reaching through the press you get.
So chase your PR fears out the window. Like anything else, you just need to do the work, follow the right steps – and discover that working with the press can actually be its own wonderful adventure.