06 Jul The only thing you need to do to get a reporter’s attention
Another post from last year that seemed to resonate was this one, on getting to the point. If you’re getting geared up for a “back to the school” pitch or a book campaign I advise you to review all your pitching materials and see if you really do GET TO THE POINT FIRST.
There are tons of workshops and e-books out there from supposed “experts” who will teach you (usually in a couple hours of course) how to do their own publicity. I got a postcard the other day from Steve Harrison that even said he could teach you everything so you wouldn’t have to use a ‘fancy publicist’. And another Facebook notice for a workshop that promised after attending, ‘you would never have to hire a publicist again.’
Seriously, learn to write a good release, build your contacts, etc but there’s only one thing you need to do in order to get the media’s attention.
GET TO THE POINT FIRST.
Journalists and magazine editors have no time for creative buildup or exciting introductions that are meant to get them so interested they must keep reading to find out your juicy storyline – usually several paragraphs later. I guarantee if you start with the actual point they will read it and thank you from the bottom of their hearts for being brief and succinct. Now whether or not it fits within their editorial guidelines, is within their particular beat or subject interest or is visual enough if you’re pitching TV, is another story. Remember, journalists get hundreds of story ideas, releases and pitches a day and only a few make it through. I’ve had great pitches that writers loved, but they simply didn’t fit at the time. However if you get to the point first they will remember that:
a) you didn’t waste their time with marketing fluff or long lead-ins
b) you weren’t full of BS and
c) you understand how they work.
Write a long descriptive introduction that talks about the WONDER OF YOU and/or your product or service and they will stop reading after a couple sentences and never read your pitches again.
Here are a few first sentences and subject lines I’ve used that worked:
- “I’ve got a trauma expert working with kids in the Ninth Ward and a drumming event next week” This one got a CNN producers attention and my client was on Sanjay Gupta’s show
- “City of Redding solar panel leasing project breaks records in speed and cost-effectiveness” I had two TV cameras, print reporters and the AP’s attention for a small press conference in Redding with this one.
- “Weight bias is more prevalent in US society than racial discrimination, Yale study shows” This one got countless hits.
Was there more information after these statements? Of course, but like usual I answered the 5W’s (who, what, when, where, why) with straightforward information. That means no overuse of adverbs and adjectives or marketing statements that cannot be backed up with credentials and facts.
On Thursday, I’ll give you points on writing a good pitch as well as examples of bad pitches. But for the most part, if you remember to get to your point right away when you pitch a journalist, editor or producer your chances of coverage will increase astronomically. I promise.