the news hole shrinking every day and headlines shrieking about
celebrities with names like Hilton, it seems more and more impossible to
get stories about your clients.
longtime publicist working for major brands for the past 20-plus years, I
thought that getting news articles about clients or placing them on talk
shows would get easier.
Instead, I find it more and more challenging every day.
While the technology boom has fostered new media outlets that increase the
probability that some ink will stick, getting through the clutter to
actually reach reporters becomes more and more difficult.
With answering machines, cell phone numbers and the increasing probability
that most e-mails are delegated to the junk mail file, how do you score
wins for your clients?
Here are ten tried and true tips to follow:
1) Find out who’s moved to what publication or outlet. More and
more journalists are leaving their jobs for new and more challenging
opportunities. Someone who worked on the technology beat may now be a
business editor. Keeping track of who is working where is a time-consuming
yet necessary job that can minimize bouncebacks and wasted outreach.
2) Write catchy subject lines in e-mails. If you want to reach a
reporter’s e-mails, write a captivating and sizzling subject line that
will pique his or her interest. If the subject line is newsworthy, most
likely it will get read.
3) Don’t send out generic e-mails or “.bcc” a whole list of
reporters. Personalize your pitch letter or note and keep it simple.
Don’t repeat what is already in the press release you’re sending, but
write why you think the reporter might be interested in this particular
news. Find a news hook or focus and make that the pitch, using statistics
if you can. For example, add something that says, ‘A recent study
shows…..” Or begin with your company’s survey or questionnaire
results. All of this make the news relevant.
4) Cut down on bogus exaggerated terminology that your news is
“breakthrough” or “revolutionary.” Write in words that a
layman can understand without making overblown claims that can’t be
5) Practice your verbal voicemail messages before you call a
reporter. Work up a sheet of talking points that ensure you won’t forget
what you’re trying to recommend. Remember – your voicemail message
should have a “smile” in your voice and enthusiasm should register as
you talk. If you sound like you’re reciting the alphabet and have said
the same thing over and over, no one will listen to you after hearing one
6) Set goals for yourself of getting a minimal amount of placements
for each pitch or release you send. If you get more, it’s gravy. If you
don’t get any, you’ll feel like you failed and will be discouraged to
continue pitching for this client.
7) Remember that selling a story is just that — sales. You must
use the techniques of a salesperson. To succeed, you have to make a
lot of “cold calls” to people you only meet on the phone. Don’t give
up and make sure your skin gets thicker every day.
8) Take rejection gracefully but not too gracefully.
Sometimes it pays to be a sore loser. But don’t be abusive to a
member of the media. They will always remember. You always get more
results with kindness. If you’re nice on the phone, respect a
reporter’s deadlines and time constraints and maintain a good virtual
and phone relationship, you will garner the most results.
9) Never underestimate the power of personal meetings. If you
actually can network and meet reporters, developing that human connection
and seeing them in another setting can create a relationship that could
well-serve you for years to come. Follow a reporter’s career. Express
interest in their moves to new positions. Maintain contact with them even
after they’re written their story for your account.
10) Don’t lie. If you don’t know an answer to a reporter’s
question, don’t make believe you do just to keep them on the phone. If
you don’t know something, tell the reporter you’ll get back to him or
her. Remember - your reputation is always more important than landing a
Tomic heads the Tomic
a Miami-based public relations agency that marries strategic
and creative work to maximize results for its clients.
agency is small and provides nimble, individualized,
consistently hands-on consulting for its clients.
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