EMSI Public Relations
a call from a reporter who wants to quote you as an expert for
his story, review your book or product, or invite you to write
an exclusive article for a publication, is a major coup. It
means that all your efforts to get noticed are paying off. Who
would blow such an opportunity?
Unfortunately, a lot of people. Those who don’t understand
journalists’ deadlines and needs are liable to be quickly passed
over in favor of sources who do. That lack of knowledge can also
rack up lots of wasted time and money for authors and
entrepreneurs who take a shotgun approach to blasting their
message, books or products to any and all journalists. If you
don’t consider their individual needs, you’re likely making a
Ginny Grimsley, our ace Print Campaign Manager, has been working
with print journalists for years, fielding their requests for
interviews, exclusive articles and images.
She’s as much a trusted and appreciated resource for journalists
across the country as she is a mentor to clients.
So I asked her to share some of her insights about what
journalists need when they come calling. Whether the medium is a
newspaper, magazine or blog, the journalists’ work can result in
far-reaching exposure. Their articles are likely to be
disseminated all over the Internet; one story could be seen by 1
million readers. How’s that for a return on your investment?
Here are some of Ginny’s tips for becoming a favorite news
• Many journalists are on tight deadlines. They need to find
immediately – meaning right now. People who aren’t used to
working with daily deadlines tend to think of “immediately” as
“within 24 hours” or “sometime this week.” That won’t do for a
reporter who has to report, write and file his story today. He
will quickly move on to another source if he has to wait for
• Along the same lines, if a media contact wants to talk to you
– whether it’s today or next Tuesday – make yourself available.
I’ve had clients say a particular requested day or time isn’t
good because they’ve got a dentist appointment scheduled or a
trip to the library planned. If The New York Times wants to
interview you, reschedule the cleaning!
• Journalists often want an image to go with their story and
that’s great for you – more exposure! So be prepared. Print
journalists need high-resolution images, usually 300 dpi (dots
per inch). Instructing them to download your picture from
Facebook won’t meet their needs. That and many other Web sites
automatically squeeze image resolution down to about 72 dpi,
which looks fine on a computer monitor, but can’t be printed on
paper. Instead, have a professional quality face shot of
yourself and a high-resolution image of your book cover at the
ready to email.
• If you have some lead time before your interview, send the
reporter any relevant material beforehand. A copy of your book
or sample of your product and links to articles that have been
written about you, and your Web site will help them prepare for
• To avoid wasting time and money when pitching your book or
product to the media, do your homework and learn which reporters
and editors might have an interest in your message. The
automotive writer will have no interest in gardening tips or
products. Likewise, the entertainment editor won’t care about
your business and finance book. You should be able to find which
journalists cover what beats by visiting the publication’s Web
site. If that fails, pick up the phone and call.
• By the same token, authors hoping to get book reviews are
tossing money out the window, and straight into the fire, when
they mail unsolicited copies to book editors, reviewers and
bloggers. These people generally don’t like receiving
unsolicited materials and they may not give your book a second
look. Instead, send them an email that describes the book and
offer to send a copy upon their request.
• Finally, if an editor invites you to write an article or blog
post, pay attention to the criteria and the deadline. If you’re
asked for 450 words or less, don’t send an 800-word piece. They
may request you focus on a specific topic, or write in a
specific format, such as tips or first person. Follow
instructions, make sure your piece is finalized and proofread,
and file on time. Early is better!
As you can see from Ginny’s suggestions, once you know
journalists’ needs, they’re really not hard to meet. Being
prompt, accommodating and reliable may also have some other
benefits: You could become the source the journalist saves in
her Rolodex and you might just hear from her again. Or, you may
get a call from one of her colleagues; fellow staffers often
share their good sources.
Marsha Friedman is a 22-year veteran of the
public relations industry. She is the CEO of
Public Relations, a national firm that provides PR strategy
and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors
and professional firms.
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