Note from Lee: When you’re trying to raise your profile in an industry, media interviews are a necessary stepping stone for the kind of coverage that can boost your reputation. However, getting interviews with journalists is not often an easy task. To bring some insight to pitching media for interviews, Jolina Pettice, an Account Manger and Public Relations Specialist with M&O – TopRank, shares a few tips for marketers that are not seasoned PR professionals.
“Needle in a Haystack , Basic Tips to Securing the Elusive Media Interview”
Do you feel like media interviews are difficult to attain? If so, reflect for a few minutes on the news that you’ve sent out to your media list recently. It’s important to remember that journalists receive an enormous number of email pitches each day from public relations firms and companies trying to gain coverage. Be sure to ask yourself, “What are we doing to break through all that noise?”
Here are a few tips to break through the clutter:
1. Make sure your call to action is clearly stated. A closing such as ‚Äòplease let me know if you are interested‚Äô doesn‚Äôt elicit much of a response. A better approach would be to list the dates and times that your executive is available to be interviewed. Listing times gives the journalist the opportunity to commit before they get distracted by another pitch.For example, you can leverage something like:
X, from X Company, is available to speak to you about X topic at the following dates and times.
Please select the one that works best for you.
January 30 at 10amEST (be sure to use the journalists’ time zone)
January 31 at 2pmEST
2. Don’t claim your product is the ‚ without proving it. Journalists hear boastful claims and “spin” all day long. Language like, “Our product is the best, so you need to write about it.” isn’t going to get you anywhere but the delete button. If your product really is the best, prove it with statistical information, client testimonials, analyst reviews and do it upfront in the email. Also, don’t be afraid to do a line-item comparison between your product and the competitors.
3. Take a Creative Risk. Journalists enjoy clever opening statements and creative analogies, so don’t be afraid to break the corporate mold and integrate them into your pitch. For example, we pitched a story where we promised to “deliver the Holy Grail of X industry” to the journalist. Two months later, that exact title wound up in the publication. While it’s easy to get enthusiastic about trying new tactics, be careful to note the difference between taking a creative risk and taking creative license. Your pitch should be clever, amusing or ironic but also easily understood and accurate.
Remember, media opportunities are out there! With a stellar product/service, a compelling story and the right approach, media interviews can become much more attainable.
Do you have interesting examples of getting interviews with the media? What creative tactics have you used to get the media’s attention? We’d love to hear about them!
Great piece. I’m not surprised that your exact wording ended up in the publication. I once got a tip that you should write the article for the journalist in your press release. I’ve never forgotten that. A couple other things:
1. Find a hook. Keep your eye on the news and respond with press releases in a timely manner.
2. Don’t forget about letters to the editor and Op-eds as a way to get your name in print.
3. Include quotes by senior members of your organization (make sure they are approved first).
4. Write in third person. A press release is not a sales piece.
5. Personalize your pitch to the journalist. They’ll sniff out “spammy” press releases in a heartbeat.
Chris Moore says
I couldn’t agree more with taking a creative risk. As someone who has covered news for blogs and magazines, I can attest to the value of a sensational angle.
Your point about finding a hook is solid. Journalists are so hung up on up to the minute that you have to keep pace with them. Personalized press-releases are also key.
I’d add, though, setting a kind of PR schedule:
1) Create a hit list of publications you want to be covered by.
2) Start realistically. If you’re not multi-national, don’t start with The Economist. Start with the blogshpere. Build a press/media archive from the bottom-up.
3) Court correpondents from your hit-list. Figure just “who” at which publication on your hit-list would be interested in what you’re doing, and build a rapport with them. Comment on their blog if they have one. One way or another, build a personal realtionship with them. It’s not who you know, it’s how well you know them.