This is my 200th post and I’m happy to have Storyteller to the Media, Michelle Tennant do the honors. She shares some excellent tips for using the latest tools to reach out to the media and I love the title of her article.
When I started out as a radio reporter, I wrote my stories on a manual typewriter. I thought I was really moving up in my career when I got hired by a station with electric typewriters! How times have changed.
Typewriters to Twitter
the Internet Changed PR Pitching
It used to be phone and mail were it. Publicists
used to plunk out cover letters on their typewriters, and then mail editors
their pitch. Things are definitely different, but the game is still played the
same. It seems now that we have less people doing more work on both — the
media’s and the publicist’s — ends of the spectrum. But whether it’s from a
typewriter or from Twitter, what prevails is the relationship. And you can’t
build a relationship with the media if you don’t connect with them.
With the advent of the Internet, finding the media
has never been easier, especially with sites like http://www.usnpl.com and http://www.profnet.com and
crowd-sourcing sites like http://www.reporterconnection.com and http://www.PitchRate.com.
The downside though is that more people than ever
are trying to connect with the media, so you really have to make yourself stand
out from the crowd. It’s definitely important to keep in mind that the first
things that media reads — your subject line and the first part of your pitch —
will determine whether or not you make a connection.
Lines — Some news producers get 1500 emails in three hours! Of course they
are not going to even think about opening your email if it has no subject line
or if the subject line looks like spam. Media flooded with hundreds of emails
each day will often use search terms to go through their in-boxes and find
email that relates to major stories they are working on. We suggest you put
these key words in parenthesis in your subject line so they will stand out.
— If your subject line gets your foot in the door (and the reporter, producer
or editor opens your email), then the first sentence of your pitch has to get
immediately to the point of what you can offer them that they can’t get
elsewhere. If your pitch is tied to breaking news, you must say immediately how
you can help the journalist advance the story. One way to do this is to list
topics that you can discuss that will shed new light on the news. Another is to
give the journalist a sampling of key tips or advice that you can offer their
audience. These should be short, concise, single sentences. Finally, make sure
to include a phone number or email where the reporter can contact you at any
time and reply to emails immediately. Remember, they are on deadline and will
call someone else if you don’t respond promptly. In fact, they were almost
certainly trying to reach other sources when they returned your call or email!
With all the ways to reach out to the media, it
can definitely be overwhelming. Essentially, you still have the same messages,
just a different way of delivering it. If you think of the Internet as your
media megaphone you’re bound to score results. If email isn’t producing results,
post a video on YouTube, connect with the media on their Facebook page, or
follow them on Twitter. If you get to know the media it’s much easier to build
a relationship with them.
Twenty-year PR veteran Michelle
Tennant Nicholson is Chief Creative Officer of Wasabi Publicity and co-founder
of www.PitchRate.com, a free media tool
that connects journalists, publicists, and experts. Called a five-star publicist by Good Morning America’s Mable
Chan, Michelle specializes in international PR, working regularly with the
likes of Oprah, Larry King, BBC, The Today Show and other major media. Contact
her at PR blog http://www.StorytellerToTheMedia.com
where she teaches tips from the trade.