04 Jun How to Gain PR Without a PR Budget
Keep Your Pitch Simple
Sticking to the facts and engagement opportunities for readers is what editors really want to see in a PR pitch. They don’t want to review long-winded paragraphs filled with rambling and unnecessary information. Pitches that are concise and just share the facts increase your chances for immediate engagement with the editor or reporter. Always think of the reader – not the editor or reporter. Once you craft your pitch around the benefits for the reader, the editor will follow.
Avoid Industry Jargon and Buzzwords
Write in straightforward language that’s easy to understand. This means avoiding jargon and buzzwords that are insignificant outside of your industry. Amanda Eldridge, director of strategic channels at PR Newswire, adds in an email interview: “Colorful language isn’t substantive and can be a turn-off to journalists.”
Provide Interesting Data, Tips and Facts
“Pitches with unusual facts or a numbered list of helpful tips allow the writer to come up with an interesting story angle,” says Eldridge. In the news business, timeliness is critical. Getting your message out at the right time — and giving reporters time to prepare — will increase the likelihood that your public relations pitch will be noticed over others.
Keep It Snappy
A timely pitch is the kind of pitch editors act on. “Connect your news with current events or reactions to a recent report or study. Find ways to make your pitch relevant and timely to create a sense of urgency,” suggests Alonso. Capitalize on the day’s news and ways to boost your pitch with timely, educational or entertaining tidbits. This allows editors to not only cover your news, services or activities, but more importantly, utilize your news to create a bigger story!
Be Proactive and Creative
Sometimes, a successful pitch requires a certain amount of creativity and willingness to go the extra mile in order to help journalists construct their story. American University School of Communication Assistant Professor Gemma Puglisi tells Small Business Trends: “Send the reporter spokespeople they can contact for major stories that apply to a client. Let’s say the story is about the humid weather and let’s say your small business is a boutique. As the owner, you could talk about what is appropriate to wear at the office and outside the workplace.”
Give a Head’s Up
Help journalists plan ahead by providing advanced notice of upcoming events. “If you’re pitching an event or have a specific timeline for when you need coverage, don’t wait until the week of the event,” says Eldridge. Journalists often plan their content in advance with an editorial calendar.
Finally, Eldridge suggests, “Don’t create a false sense of urgency in order to get noticed. Harassing journalists for an immediate response will only serve to paint you as an unreliable and often excitable source.”
Connect with the Right Person
Now that you’ve got a solid pitch to dangle in front of editors and reporters, our experts concur that being heard by the right people is key. This prevents you from annoying journalists who don’t cover your type of story and also keeps you from wasting time pitching them.
Identify the Right Writer
“Business owners should take the time to compile a list of journalists who only cover the types of news or topics they are pitching,” suggests Eldridge. This lets them know who to pitch their story to when the time comes.
Know Who You’re Pitching
“This has always been the rule for pitching,” says Puglisi. “Don’t look at the reporter as just another name on a list – read actual stories they’ve covered. Be sure to mention specific examples of similar types of stories the reporter – or people in their news outlet – have written in the past. Then, explain why your story fits into the mix.
Personalize Your Email Pitches
The editor or journalist you’re pitching to isn’t just a faceless media representative waiting to do your bidding by writing a story from your latest press release. That person is a human being with his or her own wants, needs, point of view and agenda. So, make sure you connect as a human being and acknowledge their part in the equation. After all, your news will never get out without their help.
“Mention a recent tweet or an article of theirs you read,” Eldridge says. “Introduce yourself before stating the nature of your story. Then, explain why you’re contacting them in a brief, succinct message.”
Once a member of the media or a news outlet has shown interest in your pitch, your actions in following up and being responsive to media requests are equally as important. If you fail to effectively follow up, you can ruin your chances of getting your story published.
“Remember, you are on their time,” Eldridge stresses. “Although you may not grab their attention at first, they may need you later down the road. When that happens, be ready. When they call, answer.”
Be Smart About Developing Relationships
In journalism, reporters are taught the “afterglow effect.” It refers to the value of information you glean from a source after the interview has essentially ended and everyone is less guarded. The same can be applied to cultivating relationships with reporters and editors, and getting more attention for your small business in the future.
Channels such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus can help you build relationships with local and national journalists and editors, simply by replying to a tweet or status update. Share their content with industry peers on social media or reference articles in a blog post. This shows that you you’re interested in similar topics and familiar with the journalist’s work.
Maintain the Relationship
The relationship doesn’t stop after you’ve had your news covered. The way a brand interacts with journalists or media outlets after a story is reported can help or hurt future outreach just as much as the initial pitch does. “It’s courteous to draft a short email thanking the journalist, as is sharing their post (and other posts) on your social media channels,” says Eldridge.
Offer Reporter Exclusives
Get on Twitter and start following every reporter who covers your industry. Create a list and start engaging or re-tweeting these reporters. Once you get one hooked and they follow you back, direct message them and offer an exclusive story on something interesting.
NewsLauncher is pretty simple: You pitch a PR person your story, tell them how many people you want to read it, and a writer from that publication takes it on and publishes it. If it doesn’t get published, you get a full refund. They have nine A-list publications to choose from to help you get noticed.
Create a Newsworthy Event
This takes some creativity and gusto. To make an event newsworthy, you need to do something that no one has done before, and do it in a place public enough that people will take notice and post it on social media. Going to events such as conferences and conventions where you know reporters will also be is a smart move.
Build Strategic Context Around Your Product
You have to make your business newsworthy before you can expect media coverage. This means adding relevant, timely, interesting context to whatever story you’re trying to pitch. Instead of a traditional press release, Kaplan suggested these three story ideas that Klooff could pitch to US media outlets:
· Ways Pets Teach Your Kids Important Life Lessons
· How to Take Better Care of Your Pets and Save Money
· Which Dog Breed is Most Likely to Score You a Date?
Create Story Ideas, NOT Press Releases
It’s official: the press release is dead. Invented in 1906, press releases were originally designed to announce truly newsworthy events. Now, however, they’ve turned into uninteresting overviews of every start-up on the planet trying to get noticed.
Piggyback on Timely News or Generate News Yourself
There are four types of news stories:
1. Breaking: This is when President Obama announces a new policy or program. If relevant to your industry, a quick pitch can land you as a source in local stories about your topic.
2. Seasonal: Seasonal stories are considered holiday items and other subjects covered at specific times of year.
3. Trend: Trend stories reflect new or unusual trends in an industry.
4. Personal interest: An example of a personal interest story could be a pitch about a challenge your company’s CEO had to overcome.
Personalize and Localize on a Massive Scale
One of the most powerful & effective ways to get media coverage for your product is to customize pitches for local journalists by suggesting stories relevant to the areas they cover.
Become a Thought Leader by Thinking Smaller
The term “thought leader” gets thrown around a lot. A thought leader is someone who speaks influentially about a topic or industry. In order to position yourself as a thought leader, you should be able to offer specialized knowledge on your area of expertise.
Measure the Magnitude and Speed of Media Response
When you pitch a story, pay close attention to how long it takes reporters to respond. For best results, test different headlines to see which ones get the best responses.
Test, Optimize and Pivot Your Pitch
Email is frequently used to pitch media outlets these days, which is good for do-it-yourselfers because it makes PR strategies easy to measure and test. Use this data to tweak and hone your pitches into finely crafted pieces that get the highest response rates possible.
Time Your Delivery to Increase the Odds
A 24-hour news cycle means you should be prepared to pitch your company as a source at any time. Pay attention to what’s happening in the news and time your pitch accordingly.
Embed Easy Traction Steps
Always try to work traction steps into your story. For example, getting:
· Website visitors
· Newsletter signups
· App installs
Use Media Momentum to Grow Your Market
Make sure to syndicate your own media exposure. Kaplan encourages his clients to share all of their media hits on their blog, social networks, newsletter and email campaigns.
DO Check Out your Target Publication’s Focus
If it’s a local newspaper, magazine, or website that only covers local companies, focus on that angle. If it’s a national or international publication, look for something that has broad interest but also offers a unique perspective that brings something new to the table. Make it clear why readers in different parts of the country or world would be interested in your story.
DO Get to Know the Players
Most reporters will immediately delete emails addressed as “Dear Business Reporter” or “Dear Sir/Madam.” Just as you probably wouldn’t pay much attention to flyers that were sent to your home and addressed to “Occupant,” it makes a huge difference to personalize your pitch. It also helps to do a quick web search on what kinds of topics the journalist covers.
DO Have Several Suggested Angles
If your first approach doesn’t work, it doesn’t hurt to try a different story angle. The key is to get your story out, even if it’s not the first thing you thought would be interesting. Come up with several “backup plan” angles before making the initial pitch.
The Short Pitch
It’s quick, clean and to the point. Everyone has their own style, but here’s a good place to start:
· Paragraph 1: Introduce yourself, give the editor a link to your company and show them you’ve done your research with a compliment (two birds with one stone).
· Paragraph 2: Give them the news (link), tell them you have more to offer (bit of a tease), and give them another angle in case the first one doesn’t resonate with them.
· Paragraph 3: Offer your phone number or email. Don’t say “I look forward to hearing from you” or anything along those lines – it’s presumptuous. If your pitch is good and they’re interested, they’ll call or write back.
· Paragraph 4: Thank them and be sure to use their name, again. People love seeing and hearing their own name.
The Long Pitch
It isn’t as quick, but it should be equally as clean and to the point. The long pitch is a bit more detailed and appropriate for some reporters and publications.
No matter what, keep it under one page. Remember, this is a long pitch, not a long-winded pitch. You can use the same format as above; simply expand “Paragraph 2” further, which is the meat of your pitch.
If you’re listing something, use bullet points and always supply obvious links to further info and/or visuals (do not include high-res images with your pitch).
Even if you genuinely believe your new gadget or app will be the greatest innovation since sliced bread, don’t overuse words like “breakthrough” or “revolutionary” in your pitch. Instead, get specific with reasons why people will be interested in your product.
DON’T Give Up
While you don’t want to become annoying or pushy, reporters have been known to take a second look at a story if you’re politely and pleasantly persistent. This goes back to the points about preparing several angles for a publication, as well as getting to know the players, since you’re establishing contact with your emails, calls or Twitter messages.
However, it helps to make sure you’re offering something new and timely each time you contact a reporter. If you’re pitching the same old story again and again, and the media outlet has already told you it’s not interested, you’ll likely be wasting your time.
Once you’ve got someone’s attention and they’ve agreed to cover your story – great! Now is NOT the time to turn off your smartphone or consider your pitching job done.
It’s particularly irritating for a journalist who’s received a pitch to suddenly find themselves up the creek at deadline because their company contact is nowhere to be found. Even if last-minute issues come up, it’s important to keep the reporter informed. This helps establish a good relationship and gives you the chance to arrange another interview at a more convenient time.
By sticking to these PR pitching tips, you’ll have your important business news published in no time. And remember, once you’ve had a story published at a particular media outlet, your chances of getting a second story published are even better!