A lot of companies hire a public relations firm for the firm’s “connections.” It’s often thought that PR professionals spend their days schmoozing reporters, and that those connections lead to easy coverage for their clients.
Unfortunately, that’s not exactly how it works.
A good public relations professional definitely has contacts and friends in the media, but those connections don’t mean instant coverage. Your best friend could be a reporter, but if you send a bad story idea that isn’t newsworthy, she isn’t going to write about it. Our connections get us in the door, but targeted, on-topic pitches to the right reporters are key to coverage.
If you want to pitch your business, you need to start by knowing who to pitch. That all depends on the story you’re trying to achieve. Start by finding the right publication to contact.
- Is your story local or national?
- What industry are you in?
- Do you have images or video to accompany your story?
Those questions can help you decide if you should be pitching national business websites and magazines, industry trade publications or your local media.
Once you have a list of outlets, check out their websites to see what stories they’ve written about lately to make sure yours make sense. Look for reporters who have written stories to similar (but not the same) to the one you want to pitch.
Locally, every media list should include the major daily newspaper. Within that newspaper, you’ll find several departments. It’s up to you to figure out which section your story fits in and to find the right beat reporter within that section.
If you have strong visuals, you can also add TV to your list. Most cities have four major affiliates that you always want to include: ABC, NBC, FOX and CBS. Each TV station will have its own set of shows, which often includes a morning, noon, evening and nightly broadcast. Typically, morning and noon shows are more susceptible to general interest pitches. Many of these shows will do cooking segments, for example. The evening broadcast is much more hard news-focused.
If you want to share news about your business or pitch yourself as an expert, also check for a business publication. The American City Business Journals operate 40 weekly business journals across the country. Crain Communications has business-focused publications in Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland. There are also additional business journals not affiliated with these companies.
Restaurants and other retail businesses can also look at lifestyle publications. Most big cities have an alternative weekly that covers the food scene. You can also look for monthly lifestyle magazines. If your business caters to kids, there could be a local or regional parenting publication that fits.
When you’re putting together a media list, think about your dream placements. What are your customers reading? What publication does your business need to be in to get in front of them? Once you’ve figured that out, you can brainstorm and craft a story that is relevant and interesting enough to get a reporter’s attention at that publication.
Photo credit: Daniel Lobo