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How to Get Your Story Picked Up by the Media

How to Get Your Story Picked Up by the Media

Francesca Di Meglio, Monster

Every journalist has secretly wished he could educate marketers and PR professionals on how to effectively send their messages. People bug the media too much, says Rhoda Weiss, chair and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America.

“It’s not about taking people out for drinks and steak dinners,” says Weiss. “Those days are over.” Instead, her advice is to provide reporters with information that is fast, factual and forthcoming.

Some of today’s PR professionals and marketers fail to successfully build relationships with media contacts, because they don’t know how to connect with them. The truth is that the two groups actually can benefit from one another. Journalists will tell you they respect their counterparts in other industries who are trying to inform them about the latest products and trends, but they want them to do a better job of telling their story.

Here are some important rules – many from journalists – that apply to anyone trying to sell an idea to a reporter or editor:

Acquaint Yourself with Editors and Publications

Probably the biggest mistake is sending out mass emails without tailoring pitches to your intended audience. Chandra Czape Turner, executive editor of CosmoGIRL!, says that she has received press materials for maternity clothes and alcohol, even though CosmoGIRL! is geared toward teens.

A marketer or public relations professional is responsible for knowing a publication’s personality, audience and regular columns. Then, he must tailor his pitches accordingly.

It’s not enough to just know the magazine well, says Turner. You also need to know the right editor for the story. She’s an executive editor and often receives releases about fashion and beauty products, which she deletes without opening because other editors are meant to handle them. Making a quick phone call to find out beat assignments at a publication saves everyone a lot of time.

Get Inside Their Heads

“You need to think, act and write like a reporter,” says Weiss. Identify yourself as a PR or marketing representative up-front in a pitch, but then write or speak as though you are a good freelance writer looking for an assignment, says Turner.

To do this correctly, in addition to tailoring your pitch to the magazine and editor’s needs, you also should include relevant stats or data, possible sources, examples of accompanying art and the story’s suggested fit in the publication. Obvious advice that bears repeating includes keeping pitches short and to the point and using clever, but informative, subject lines to garner the reporter’s interest.