Your brand needs some buzz.
Press coverage is essential to help keep your brand relevant to your customers. It can also help you grow your online presence, social engagement, and create sales.
If you’re a DIY-er or have the time to work at getting your own press coverage for your business, here’s the step-by-step process to follow, plus some pro tips to help you on the way. (P.S. if you don’t DIY or you don’t have time to work through this process each time you get press, ROOTS has monthly PR services for brands & small businesses within the fashion, beauty & lifestyle categories, just contact us)
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01. Get Specific
You’ve got about 5 seconds to grab attention and get the media interested.
Maybe you offer a range of products and services, but when you are pitching a story to the media you need a clear focus. Choose 1-2 products or services that are relevant (i.e. are new, current season, just got revamped, tied to something happening right now), and build a compelling story around those.
Relevance is the most important element of a pitch. It could be a great story, but if its not relevant then it won’t be run. Connect your story to a current or upcoming event and be able to clearly show how it’s relatable, but be unique. You should also make sure to plan far enough ahead of time so that your topic is still relevant by the time its actually written / published – i.e. don’t send in a holiday-related pitch one week before the holiday, give at least three weeks lead time.
02. Build your press list
Pick 5-10 media outlets that you would like to be featured with. Think about which key media outlets would be interested in featuring the product / service or story you’re pitching. There will likely be about 5 outlets that are perfect or great fits, and then 5 additional outlets that might be good or OK fits.
Do a little research or googling to find the right media contact at each outlet. You should be pitching your story to a specific person within a specific part of the outlet (usually called a desk). Don’t send your email to addresses like Contact@Magazinename.com. It won’t end up in the right hands.
For example, if you are trying to gain press coverage for your upcoming event, you’re likely contacting the “Lifestyle” or “Arts & Entertainment” instead of the “US Politics” desk. Each media outlet varies a little bit as to which desks handle what (some outlets cover a traditional range of news categories, while others are more specialized and might cover solely lifestyle stories, etc.)
Know the outlet: find out as much as you can before you even reach out to make sure your story is a good fit and the media outlet aligns with your brand. Before you even reach out you should know the specific reporter / news professional that you plan to contact, what topics they usually cover, their writing style, and her or his beat.
Check the very top or bottom of the article to see who wrote it (also take note of the type of things the article highlighted…do they align with your brand?). Most media outlets will list an email address for the author or other means of contact.
03. Write your [perfect] pitch
- Call to action: Include this at the end of your pitch. You can ask if the media professional would like to get a little more info or be sent a sample / demo. It’s also a good idea to include a link that provides more info or allows them to download additional images or press materials if needed. Links are much better than attachements (which often don’t get opened). You can use a web-hosted drive folder (like dropbox or google drive) or you can link to a press kit on your website.
- The Essentials: Make sure to cover all the essentials (who, what, when, where, why & how)
- Clarity: Your writing should be clear and concise. You should also clearly define how you want your product / service to be featured in the story you are pitching.
- Mutual Benefit: At the end of the day, your story should be mutually beneficial: allowing you to have press coverage and providing value or useful information to the outlet’s readers / viewers.
Your pitch should be personal. Address the person you are contacting by name, reference elements of past pieces they’ve written, etc. Customize the pitch and show how the story can provide real value to the media professional as well as her / his readers. Don’t forget to follow them on social media. There is no such thing as one-size fits all. Whatever you do, do not sent out the same pitch to 2000 media outlets, this won’t get you press.
Headline / Subject line
- Be engaging by making a provocative statement or asking a question
- Limit your headline to 10 words
- 200-300 words
- 5-7 talking points
- Include “For Immediate Release” unless there is proprietary info in your pitch that shouldn’t be released until a certain date
- Include a 200 word bio / boilerplate (make it interesting!)
- Include your website & social media handles
Get the Perfect PR Pitch Checklist!
This checklist will guide you through the steps to creating a perfect PR pitch for your brand or biz. Fill our the form below to get your copy of the checklist, or go HERE to get in on our FREE resource library that contains this checklist plus other amazing workbooks, checklists, and more to help you grow your brand or biz.
04. Hit Send & Follow Up
Check for spelling errors before you hit that send button. Also make sure you’ve actually attached any attachments you’ve referenced in the email. Double check your links.
OK, now you can hit send.
Send out pitches to your first five outlets, and then wait a little bit. If they say yes then you’re good to go, you’ve got press! If they respond back with a no, they might include a reason why they didn’t like your story or pitch. Oftentimes you can use this explanation as constructive criticism to refine your pitch before you reach out to the next 5 outlets on your list. OR if you really want to be featured at a specific outlet, offer your story to them first as exclusive. (This means you don’t send pitches to other outlets until you hear back, and they get the right to “break” your news first…usually even before your company blog.)
Wait some more…
If your pitch is relevant and engaging, you should hear back pretty quickly. If you haven’t heard back in a little while (5-7 days), follow up with a brief email after your initial pitch via email (Don’t call, they are constantly working on deadlines, so it’s best to give them the info they need via email and let them get back to you on their own time). If you don’t hear back after that, it’s probably a safe bet that they aren’t interested in moving forward with your story.
Whatever you do, do not bug them. Following up way too soon, way to often, or not briefly enough can damage media relationships. Understand that media professionals receive a TON of pitches and stories everyday and they do their best to follow up, but sometimes they might just be swamped and not getting back to you because your story just isn’t at the top of their list. That’s ok. Maybe your next story will be exactly what they’re looking for, so keep trying and be patient.
You’re not done.
The follow up doesn’t end after they publish your story. You’ve just started a media relationship! Take time to send them a thank you note after a story run or interview.
DON’T HAVE TIME TO FOLLOW THIS PROCESS FOR YOUR BRAND?
ROOTS offers monthly PR services for brands & small businesses within the fashion, beauty & lifestyle categories. Contact us to set-up a consultation (it’s free)!
Some Do’s + Dont’s
- Understand that you need to be flexible: the media works on short term schedules that change often
- Follow your local reporters / journalists / TV personalities on social media and keep up with them. Having a social history can help you relate to them better in a pitch, and if you are sharing / liking their content, they might be more apt to respond or help you with your story.
- Offer and be very available for interviews
- Be prepared for rejection: Your story isn’t always going to be the most relevant or important thing for a news outlet to be talking about, and that’s OK.
- When you follow up, never ask when your story is going to print. It’s not a sure thing.
- Tell everyone about your new media coverage before it’s printed, because when a schedule change arises and your story isn’t run it’s a little embarrassing.
- Forget to look at different types of media other than written journalism, radio, TV, podcasts, etc. are all great mediums to get coverage.
- Take rejection personally: News outlets have a responsibility to bring their readers the best and most relevant content. They don’t have space for to talk about eveything, sometimes your story won’t make the cut
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