Many of you know me as an entrepreneur — others as a journalist. In reality, I’m a hybrid. My company, SBTV.com, is an online media outlet for small business news and information. Additionally, I write for several national media outlets and I’m a small business contributor for ABC News. Therefore, I get hundreds of pitches every week. But I also pitch to the media to help build by business and personal brand. I see the process from a unique vantage point. I know what works and what doesn’t. So I decided to share a few insider tips to help you capture the media you desire.
1. The Ten Second Rule. You have about ten seconds to catch a reporter or producer’s attention — particularly in television. Don’t send a lengthy email telling your life story or explaining how your product is going to save the world. (Save that for advertising copy.) Personally, I like pitches that present a problem my audience might be having followed by helpful tips. Once you’ve outlined an informative, newsworthy story, you can explain why you are the best person to talk about the topic.
2. Tie Into the Headlines. Keep abreast of current news and watch for opportunities to tie your expertise to a headline. For example, when Facebook announced it’s IPO, I pitched a story about what small businesses can learn from Facebook’s success. It worked.
3. Wrong Place, Wrong Time. Don’t send pitches to everyone. Make sure whoever you pitch is interested in your subject matter or you might find yourself blocked for good. Journalists get inundated with ideas so be respectful of their time. One publicist sent a very good by-line article to me which I posted on our site. After that, I started getting several articles a day from her — the majority of which were completely unrelated to small business. I emailed her and recommended she only send articles from clients that were focused on small business. She seemed to understand, but the bad behavior continued. She’s now blocked from my inbox.
4. Persistence Pays, Stalking Doesn’t. Stalking a producer is just plain scary. I see it happen all the time in television news. That’s a great way to get yourself blackballed quickly. However, following up once or twice is acceptable. As I noted, journalists get hundreds of pitches every day. It’s easy to overlook a good story now and then.
5. Connect With the Journalist. Most journalists have blogs and they’re active on social media. Positive comments about their blog or column may catch their attention. You can also add to a story with substantive information that will establish you as an expert. Just don’t make the mistake of peddling your product or service. The same is true with social media platforms. Directing a journalist to a good resource or weighing in on a story is an excellent way to make a connection. For example, I wrote a column about the economic impact of buying local. One of my readers commented and directed me to some very helpful statistics. It was good information and someone I’ll most likely reach out to in the future.