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Pitch a story they can't refuse

By Grace Joyal

Ask any journalist: he or she gets TOO MANY emails. As a small business or organization, how do you make yours stand out? You don’t have to tell us the number of times you’ve sent a press release and gotten crickets in return - we know. We’ve been on the receiving end, and that’s why we’re chock-full of tricks that should help it stick.

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Here are 5 tips for getting coverage

Compose the perfect press release

Keep it simple. Copy and paste the press release into the body of the email. You’ve already eliminated half the battle of getting someone to actually read it. Journalists are usually working on a deadline, and their attention is spread thin - attaching your press release as a Word document or PDF is a no-go. Of course, this means they actually have to open the email. Make your subject line catchy and concise. Reporters like access - try and play up the selling point in the subject line.

Take an alternate route

It’s easier than ever to reach out directly to a reporter - at the local or national level. Start small, and instead of taking the obvious route of sending an email, find them on Twitter or Instagram to make that first contact. Trust us - they won’t be expecting it, and because of that, they’ll be more inclined to fire back a response right away. If you send a message to their professional Facebook page, the reporter will want to respond to keep their message response rate at 100 percent. Introduce yourself as a professional in the area who’s looking to expand your reach, and that you have a couple ideas for stories. Now, what are those stories??

Make them a pitch they can’t refuse

Fit your story into the frame of what viewers will care about (why a producer will sign off on the story). Quite simply, these are things that directly affect them, like their wallets, their safety and their children’s education. You should be able to sum up why viewers will care about your story in one sentence. As you’re formulating your pitch, think visually. Access, like we mentioned before, is a hot commodity, because it usually means compelling visuals. Sound is just as important here - the “natural sounds” of a setting help the reporter tell his or her story. Of course, sound also comes from the real person you’ll ideally have lined up. A real person is someone who’s directly impacted by whatever story you’re pitching. Without a real person, a reporter’s story will not be very effective.

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If you’re pitching a live segment, think hands-on, and well-displayed. Remember: it’s not an advertisement for your business, but rather, your chance to offer “expert” insight into the niche market your business is a part of.

Over-deliver on your promise

Once you’ve booked a segment or shoot, go out of your way to make the reporter’s job as easy as possible. Send any relevant photographs, fact sheets and other media items their way in advance. During the actual shoot, you might choose to reveal an additional layer of access you’re able to provide (as a surprise). Reporters are all about time management, and often, they’re working alone - help them out by offering to hold equipment during transitions, making sure any unrelated noise distractions are turned down and having any visuals ready to go. While it’s important to be helpful, be careful not to step on their toes - let them do their thing!

Maintain a relationship

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Once you’ve worked with a reporter, keep in touch. If you delivered a successful story or segment, it will be hard for them to ignore your emails or messages now that they know your face. Though, keep in mind - while you’ve gotten their attention, it’s important to maintain your commitment to the kind of habits we outlined above, throughout the process - from pitch, to production. We promise - they’ll notice and be grateful for it.