No business can get away with ignoring the media. No matter how large your business is, chances are, you don’t have the infrastructure or reach required to share information about your business without help.
Unfortunately, many businesses fail to understand that getting the press to pay attention to you is similar to how you must approach customers. You must not only offer journalists something interesting, you must develop a relationship with them. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.
They must feel important
Some people may find it hard to believe that reporters don’t work for them. They’re not sitting in their offices, eagerly awaiting your next missive, hoping for something to write about. Journalists have their own lives, careers and agendas. Respect that and you’ll go a long way.
Instead of sending press releases to every email address you can get, do the research. Look for publications that would be interested in your industry and find out which reporters will likely be most relevant.
When you have your list, send each writer an individualized message with your press release and a short message about why they may be interested. It’s a lot of work, but if you want to be noticed, you’ll have to do it.
Respond to queries immediately
When a journalist contacts you, respond promptly. When you don’t reply to their questions or clarifications, you disrespect their time and effort. Get back to them within 24 hours or they’ll move on to the next story.
In your press release email, let them know when you’re available for questions. Should something come up, make sure someone else is available and that the journalist understands that your absence couldn’t be avoided. They may still take offense, but it’s better than an unanswered call or email.
Make it easy for them
Journalists have a lot on their plates, from modern-day press demands to the many stories they must chase. If a message in their inbox is badly misspelled, hard to read, or lacking in too many details, they’ll probably ignore it. When you send something to a reporter, make it representative of the best you have to offer.
Make a concise pitch and pack the email with usable resources, such as links to your site and social media accounts, as well as important company information. If the images you use were not created or taken by a professional, at least make sure they look as though they were. The more amateurish the design and appearance, the more likely your pitch will be ignored.
Keep it short
When you pitch a story, you don’t need to include every detail. Give reporters a good idea of your story, why it’s relevant to them and their audience, and how they can contact you for more information. If the pitch is under 200 words, you’re in a good spot.
Accept rejection with grace
If a journalist turns you down, move on to the next one. They could reject your press release for any number of reasons, none of which matter; they said no, and it’s time to go. Your company isn’t owed anything, least of all coverage. If journalists don’t think it’s a fit for them, they won’t cover it.
If they simply don’t reply, send them a follow-up email. If there’s still no reply, it’s safe to assume they’re not interested. Don’t waste your time and energy trying to convince them otherwise. Contact the next journalist on your list.
Journalists and press outlets owe you no loyalty. They’re not obligated to help your product reach a wider audience through their publication. Make it worth their time and they’ll reply. If you ignore their audience or treat them like slaves, they’ll respond in kind.
Dan Natividad, a Stockton native, is a partner at Port City Marketing Solutions along with Kristen Dyke and Erin Giles. Dan can be reached at [email protected]