How to Toss Pitches That Hit the Target


How to Toss Pitches That Hit the Target

How to Toss Pitches That Hit the Target
By Marsha J Friedman

I’ve been saying it for 22 years: Getting mentioned in news stories and being interviewed on radio and TV is the best, most cost-effective marketing strategy.

By positioning yourself as an expert on topics relevant to your product or book, you also gain credibility. This is what I call “Celebritize Yourself.” It’s the boost you need to rise above the competition.

But, how do you get journalists interested in what you have to say? You might offer to write an article or blog post, or provide interesting TV or radio commentary on a topic in the news. Come up with a fresh angle that will add to a news story everyone’s talking about. For example, last year a client wrote a memoir about his years in the Secret Service. Imagine the placements he could get now with all the attention on the carousing agents in Colombia. He even got a placement on my radio show!

Now that you’ve identified a news story or trend that dovetails nicely with your message and an angle no one else has thought of, all you have to do is get someone in the media to pay attention. That first step can be the hardest – if you don’t know what you’re doing.

A few weeks ago, I asked three professionals fresh from jobs in traditional media what made them pay attention – or not! – to telephone and email pitches. They came up with so many good suggestions, I shared half last week, and promised more this week.

Never one to break a promise, I now give you – as the late great journalist Paul Harvey would say – the rest of the story:

  • Print journalists tend to like print, so send an email. Everyone’s different, of course, but journalists who choose print over broadcast tend to do so because they’re more comfortable with that medium. Some prefer time to think over a proposal rather than respond immediately to a cold call. Having a written pitch in an email folder may be handier than searching for handwritten notes scrawled during a phone call.
  • Keep it short – the more you write, the less they read. No one, journalist or otherwise, wants to read through two pages of text to figure out what you’re asking or offering. Boil down your pitch to a succinct length, three or four paragraphs is good, with the basics. Even better – use bullets to make your points. That’s an easy-to-read format that’s much more visually inviting than blocks of dense text.
  • Don’t make them work for it. Providing a link to your website, and little more, is a sure way to get deleted. I know you think you’re saving yourself time, but you’re doing it at the expense of the journalist’s time. It’s the quickest way to lose their attention. Your website may tell your story beautifully, but unless you provide a compelling reason to click through to it, no one will bother. Your pitch should include a brief reference to the issue or trend you’re plugging into; the content you can provide to give the journalist a great story or show; and a phone number where you can easily be reached. Then add that website link.
  • Make sure you have an easy-to-remember website address. You should always provide a link to the site in your email, but that’s not necessarily how journalists will always access it. If they want to browse it when they have more time in the morning, or show it to a colleague, they shouldn’t have to go back to your mail for the URL. If they’re interested enough to want to check out the site, they’ll remember key words that should pop it up in a search. Having a site with an easy-to-remember name will help, as will regularly adding fresh content, which pushes it higher in the search results.

Between last week’s tips and this week’s, you should be all set to connect with the media.

But, I won’t lie; it can be frustrating. If you’re a DIY’er, remember persistence pays. However, if you prefer the help of professionals who know how to craft a pitch and have media contacts coast to coast, keep us in mind. What can be discouraging to you is a lot of fun for us.

Keepin’ it succinct,

Marsha

For 20 years Marsha Friedman has been a leading authority on public relations as CEO of EMSI. Go to www.emsincorporated.com to signup to receive her free weekly PR Tips today! More resources for authors can also be found at www.publicitythatworks.com. Or call at 727-443-7115, ext. 202, or email at mfriedman@emsincorporated.com.

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Pitching Story Ideas to the Media: Who’s Who in Your Local Newspaper’s Newsroom (Part 1)

When pitch­ing story ideas to your local paper, you want to make sure your pitch lands into the right hands. The last thing you want to do is the send your idea to the wrong per­son, who may “round file” it, instead of pass­ing it along to the appro­pri­ate col­league. If you have a story that’s time-sensitive in nature, you espe­cially want to see that the right per­son gets it ASAP.

Here’s the low-down on the more com­mon writ­ing and report­ing roles at a daily newspaper:

Journalists/reporters: These indi­vid­u­als are the news writ­ers. They do the research, con­duct the inter­views and write the sto­ries that you read. A reporter’s job is to pro­vide the facts and rep­re­sent both sides of a story with­out any bias. They write from the third per­son per­spec­tive, so you will rarely see the words you, me, I or us in a story writ­ten by a journalist.

In larger cities, reporters often have “beats” or are given reg­u­lar assign­ments to cover. This means, they’re cover local sto­ries by topic, like city hall/government, neigh­bor­hood or crime watch, busi­ness, schools, sports, arts, lifestyle, etc.

At mid-to-large-sized dailies, the news­room could be divided into depart­ments. Think of the sec­tions that come with your news­pa­per – national news, local news, sports, busi­ness, lifestyle, travel, among oth­ers. Again, you will have reporters who spe­cial­ize in many of these top­ics and have peo­ple who man­age these roles within these departments.

Colum­nists: This type of jour­nal­ist writes on a recur­ring basis on a spe­cific topic, often pro­vid­ing spe­cial com­men­tary or their own opin­ions. So you will see the use first (I, me) and sec­ond (You) per­son in their columns, or the plural use of we and us. You can usu­ally spot a colum­nist in a news­pa­per, as their work is accom­pa­nied by their photo and “by line” (who the col­umn is writ­ten by).

Top­ics cov­ered by a colum­nist run the gamut. You can have a colum­nist who spe­cial­izes in advice, careers, busi­ness, tech­nol­ogy, pol­i­tics, weather, sports, among oth­ers. Colum­nists can be local, national or syndicated.

Local colum­nists write about local top­ics and their respec­tive columns appear only in that one publication.

National columnists are employed by large daily papers – such as USA Today, The New York Times, Wall Street Jour­nal, The Boston Globe, et al. – and write columns that can be sold to and repub­lished in other papers across the country.

Syn­di­cated colum­nists appear in mul­ti­ple news­pa­pers, but these writ­ers sell their work syn­di­ca­tion ser­vices which, in turn, dis­trib­ute the col­umn through­out the news­pa­per world.

Blog­gers: You can also read your local paper online, so blogs are a reg­u­lar fea­ture on the paper’s web­site. The blog­ging plat­form gives news­pa­per indus­try imme­di­acy, which is some­thing all news out­lets (both broad­cast and print) strive to pro­vide when report­ing the news. The goal is to pro­vide the newest, fresh­est, most unique angle to any story at any given time. Since news­pa­pers do not have the lux­ury of inter­rupt­ing our favorite tele­vi­sion pro­grams or songs play­ing on the radio with break­ing news or run­ning mul­ti­ple news­casts in one day, the blog, as well as its web­site, allow these news pub­li­ca­tions to report up-to-the-minute coverage.

The blog can be writ­ten by reporters or colum­nists or by some­one hired specif­i­cally to write blog posts. Blogs allow reporters or colum­nists to share a “behind-the-scenes” glimpse at how their story came together. Since news­pa­pers have lim­ited space, news sto­ries are writ­ten to fit. So the blog plat­form allows the story to be expanded, so the writer can pro­vide fur­ther analy­sis on the topic.

Finally, many peo­ple who do not buy a printed copy of the paper may opt for an on-line sub­scrip­tion. The blog offers on-line sub­scribers addi­tional con­tent, while extend­ing the social out­reach of the publication.

Photographers/photo jour­nal­ists: The use of pho­tog­ra­phy in news­pa­pers is also a jour­nal­is­tic role. Photo jour­nal­ists cover all types of news: acci­dents, spe­cial events, break­ing news, weather, sports, etc.

Pho­to­graph can be used as a self-contained story – with a cut line appear­ing beneath it. They also can accom­pany an arti­cle to pro­vide a visual rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the story being told and help­ing to draw a con­nec­tion between the reader and the report.

Just like report­ing the news, the images should be timely to work in cadence with the arti­cle it accom­pa­nies. And the image should be impar­tial, pro­vid­ing the reader with a fair and accu­rate account of the event.

In Part 2 of Pitch­ing Story Ideas to the Media, we’ll look at news­room man­age­ment at a local newspaper.

© 2013 Stephanie Faiella, http://www.avantimarcom.com

Stephanie Faiella is a vir­tual mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant and founder of Avanti Marketing+Communications. Stephanie offers a free audio report on “15 Mar­ket­ing Cam­paign Strate­gies Designed to Build and Grow Your Busi­ness” – along with two free bonuses – wh

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How to Maximize Media Leads

Maximizing Media Leads

Thanks to HARO (www.helpareporterout.com) and similar media leads services, there are media leads out there for everyone, all the time. Media, media, everywhere! The key, however, is to maximize these leads. Often, we think that as long as we respond to them, and give them our information, the hard part is done. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact it’s really just the beginning. How can you get better exposure for your pitches? Here is a quick guide to pitching these media leads services that will provide you with insight and guidance for better placement and better stickiness to the stories you pitch.

Pitching the right lead: First and foremost, you need to define the right lead to pitch. But really, it’s more than that. Keep in mind that for a variety of topics such as finance, dieting and parenting you might find a lot of leads but not all of them are appropriate to your topic. Some people think that you shouldn’t pitch anything that isn’t 100% spot on. If I followed this way of thinking, I wouldn’t have gotten myself into a variety of publications, including Entrepreneur Magazine (issue forthcoming).

So what’s the goal? The goal is to go after as many leads as you can within the appropriate market. For example, if you have a diet book that is focused on a soy based program and you see a lead about getting ready for summer, you might think it seems off, but the idea here might be to pitch them your topic, to help people get ready for summer. The same is true for an article on the high divorce rate and you have a book on making divorce a smoother transition. This could be a great opportunity for you to pitch a sidebar idea on creating a gentler transition for families of divorce.

The idea really is that, to the degree it’s appropriate, pitch yourself to as many on-point topics as you can. When I do this, however, I will always address the issue of the topic they pitched and then ask if they are interested in perhaps taking a sidebar angle to the piece or offering an extended insight into their topic. You’d be amazed at how often this gets a response.

Response time: Basically, as fast as you can. You should never, ever, ever sit on a lead unless you need to gather additional data before responding. Don’t wait. Period. Remember that you aren’t the only person seeing that lead, many of these reporters and journalists get hundreds of responses per lead they send and generally, the first who respond get the most attention. Ignore the deadline and send it right away, if you wait until minutes before the deadline you might get buried in the hundreds of other leads that have flooded the recipient’s inbox.

Responding: Short, sweet, and to the point. While I suggested in the above tip that you take some liberty with some of your leads and responses, I still recommend keeping it on point and short. In fact I’ll often highlight some key points, send the response off and indicate that I’m aware they might be sitting with a flooded inbox and if my response has piqued their interest, I am happy send as much additional data as they need. Also, if appropriate, cite or link to any current articles that you’ve been featured in online so the media person can see the breadth of your knowledge. Oh and one final note, please, please, please spell check your emails. You’d never send a resume to a potential employer with typos in it, right? So it baffles me that anyone would send an email that wasn’t spell checked.

The media are your customers: Remember to always treat media like your customer and like a consumer, they probably have a lot of choices. Serve them as you would a new client. Give them what they need in a timely fashion and don’t under deliver. Ever. Don’t embellish, don’t alter the facts and be ready to prove every single point you are making in your pitch.

Managing the responses: As you get responses you should be ready to act immediately. In fact if you are pitching yourself to *any* media you should be checking your email regularly – several times a day in fact. Depending on the story you are pushing for, you should really be on top of your email, all the time so you can be prepared to respond immediately.

Follow up: Unless you’ve been tapped by the media person to be in the article don’t follow up on a lead you sent, ever. Why? Because if they need you they’ll let you know; if they don’t, a follow-up email is just annoying. Keep in mind that even if the media person doesn’t respond, you might still see some activity from them down the road. This happened to me with an INC online piece. They didn’t need me for the original story I had responded to but kept my information on file and used it later. Had I followed up a few times this might not have happened if I had gotten labeled as a “pest” – be careful the impression you make in email!

You’ve got placement! Great! Congratulations! So, what now? Well now it’s time to promote, promote, promote the lead you were just featured in. Post it to Twitter, list it on your blog and Facebook Fan Page and oh, don’t forget to thank the media person too!

How to find great leads: There are a number of great resources out there for finding leads. Here are just a few of them!

Help A Reporter Out: www.helpareporterout.com
Reporter Connection: www.reporterconnection.com
Blogger Link Up: www.bloggerlinkup.com
Pitch Rate: http://pitchrate.presskit247.com/index.asp

Media leads are a great way to get yourself in front of media who need your expertise. I have found media lead responding to be a fantastic way to gain media attention for our authors. Get on the media leads bandwagon and start responding. You never know where you could land a story!
Good luck!

Media Exposure Is Marketing Gold – If You Know How to Use It


Media Exposure Is Marketing Gold – If You Know How to Use It

Media Exposure Is Marketing Gold – If You Know How to Use It
By Marsha J Friedman

At a glance:

  • Implicit media endorsements make you stand out from the competition.
  • It’s not advertising; it’s building credibility.
  • Maximize your exposure by posting it on your Web site and sharing it via social media.

A colleague of mine, who’s a former newspaper reporter, tells a story about a savvy attorney she knew. He’d tip her off whenever he had a particularly juicy case if she promised to include his name alongside that of his client in her story. Whether he won the case or lost it, people remembered his name and associated him with high-profile cases. He’d figured out that having his name in the paper bought him something no amount of advertising could: credibility.

For anyone trying to build a business, sell a product or get their book into the hands of more consumers, the implicit endorsement that comes from being interviewed by the media is what I call “marketing gold.”

Let me explain. Thanks to the Internet, you and every competitor you have, big or small, have the same chance to reach your potential consumers. So, what makes one business, one product or book more appealing than another? It’s endorsements from the media that make you stand out. Let’s face it – if USA Today has chosen to review your book, or refer to it in an article, it gives reason to believe there’s something special about it. If a doctor is quoted in the news about solutions to a particular health issue you’re dealing with – your instinct will be to check out him and his product first, because the media must consider him an authority to have quoted him.

When the media recognizes that you have something important to say, you gain credibility. This is the marketing gold I’m referring to: the endorsements from TV and radio show hosts, the editorial coverage in newspapers and magazines – and now, bloggers, news Web sites and followers on social media too. All these forms of recognition give others confidence you’re as good as you say you are. But, it’s upon you to use this “gold” as a critical part of your marketing to let people know these endorsements exist.

The return on investment usually isn’t immediate, which can be frustrating to people who expect a surge in business or a spike in sales with every media interview. That used to happen more often in the old days – I’m talking way back in the ’90s – when a radio talk show host might chat with you for 30 or 60 minutes and newspapers had twice as many pages to fill. It became apparent that when a client’s message clearly addressed an urgent public problem, along with their expertise and solution-oriented content, they could hit the jackpot.

From January to April, an IRS expert who spoke of resolutions to IRS problems or gave on-air tips on how to prevent IRS abuses would always see a huge jump in book sales. Or, the health expert, who got on the air during flu season and explained why his health program would make them feel better faster would sell a ton of product.

But the old days are gone and here we are in 2012. Today’s talk radio interviews are brief – 7 to 10 minutes in the larger markets – and newspapers have no space for full feature stories on interesting entrepreneurs and writers. There are far fewer opportunities to grab an audience for a significant length of time.

So how do you grow your investment in PR? Marketing your media exposure is a strategy that pays big dividends over time – but requires an effort from you.

  • Your Web site should prominently display your endorsements: “As seen on CBS,” “featured in the Louisville Gazette,” “heard on WFLA radio.”
  • Don’t forget to mention the media coverage to your Twitter followers and Facebook fans, too. The third-party endorsement will help you build more contacts, because people like knowing who the experts are and following them.
  • Use the media you’ve obtained to help you gain more TV, radio and print exposure. It serves as credibility for journalists as well and they will be more likely to want to interview you if you’ve already been vetted by other media professionals.
  • Let your personality shine online and respond to journalists and followers alike with interesting commentary and insights – not pleas to buy your book or product.

Yes, it takes work, a strong theme and a message that resonates. But if you invest wisely, you’ll grow rich in marketing gold.

For 20 years Marsha Friedman has been a leading authority on public relations as CEO of EMSI. Go to www.emsincorporated.com to signup to receive her free weekly PR Tips today! More resources for authors can also be found at www.publicitythatworks.com. Or call at 727-443-7115, ext. 202, or email at mfriedman@emsincorporated.com.

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