If you landed a three-page spread in a consumer magazine or a story on the front page of your local paper, then you’re probably a master at pitching the press. On the other hand, numerous near misses or regular responses of “thanks, but no thanks” may mean your pitches are flawed. There is no one way to pitch to the media, but avoiding these common mistakes can help to increase your success rate.
Pitching the Wrong Person
Different journalists cover different beats, and they usually stay within their scope of expertise. If you submit your pitch to the wrong person, it may be doomed for the delete button. Finding the right press people may take a bit of groundwork, but it can go a long way to capturing the interest of reporters and getting your company front and center in people’s minds. Consider researching publications, websites, blogs, and reporters that cover subjects relating to your small business. For example, researching publications that publish news and information on travel can help to uncover reporters who may write about your new app that makes sightseeing easier when you travel. Taking a look at a reporter’s past work can help to reveal their regular beat. Not every reporter will be interested, but a targeted approach could minimize lost opportunity.
Not Really News
If your team is helping to rebuild rundown houses in your town, your athletic shoe company is expanding into quality leather sandals, or your travel app company polled Canadians on their top five vacation destinations, then contacting the press could very well result in news coverage. Grabbing the reader’s attention and offering something of value is usually what journalists look for when perusing press pitches. Run-of-the-mill stories or pitching your company rather than a story may not get a pass with the press. Consider evaluating your own pitch by asking yourself if the product, service, or information that you are pitching is unique and attention-grabbing.
Dont Leave Out Pertinent Information
It’s possible to get so focused on the story that you forget to include pertinent information in your pitch. Quick, easy, and relevant facts make decisions easier for reporters. Consider going through a checklist before sending the pitch off to journalists so they have everything they need to cover your story, such as the date of the press release, contact information for the journalists to follow up, and when the new product will be released, or the time and location of your press conference. For something like a new line of sandals, you might include the number of styles that will be produced and possibly the different colours available for purchase; include any pertinent detail that may be of interest to consumers.
Beware of Bad Timing
Pitching a new line of ski goggles in February or beach gear in August probably won’t make a splash with the press; timing is everything. Checking lead times when researching media outlets can help you to plan the perfect pitch schedule and increase the odds of getting coverage. Consider sending a quick email to reporters and asking how long in advance they prefer pitches to be submitted for your particular product or news. A new product may require six months, for example, but a pitch regarding news or current events might only need a day or two of notice.