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What you need to do before you pitch the press

Marketing agency staff at work

Building contacts in the press is a wonderful thing even for the smallest business owner. To be able to build a name for yourself by being the “go to guy/gal” on a given niche ensures exposure, backlinks to your website and, more importantly, a level of celebrity that you can leverage to your advantage.

This is why we always encourage our clients to be willing to speak with journalists whenever we can collectively build such relationships.

But I’m too small for journalists to care about

A lot of the time, however, clients seem to think they are “too small” for the journalists to be interested in. Nonsense. If you are an expert in your field, and if the story is appropriate, then journalists will take an interest.

The following article by a PR specialist is a case in point.
In it the writer asks clients to think from the journalists side of the table and prepare answers to the following questions:

  1. Why is my story relevant?
  2. Why is it relevant now?
  3. Why me?

So with the first you need to put yourself in the journalists shoes and argue the case as to how your story is relevant and INTERESTING to that journalists reader base. After all a magazine, blog or newspaper only retains readers if they read stories they are interested in. So look at who you’re pitching, who their readers are and work the angle that way.

For the second issue of why your story is relevant now, you need to look at the news and conversation happening in the market and tap into it. Is your story seasonal? Is there something going on in the news that allows you to give insight?

Finally, when it comes to “why me” you need to have some short bio prepared templates that you can quickly amend and have ready to send. Make sure to name check other media appearances so your “expert” credentials are clear but don’t over do it. Something nice and succinct in a paragraph or 2 is all that is needed… the journalist really doesn’t need your CV!

Practice makes perfect

When we first started helping clients with media appearances way back when, like anything it was a learning curve but practice made perfect. You have to be positive and pitch and look at your own story from the outside to find ways to make it compelling and interesting. That’s why working with someone like us is worthwhile so we can listen objectively.

I remember one client who was so closed about his knowledge and experience it was like pulling teeth because he thought he was boring. The more we pulled on the thread of his story suddenly this whole web of intrigue and incredible anecdotes came out.

He was so humble he thought none of it was interesting, but for us we were literally gripped because we realised we were in the presence of someone who really did think differently about life and had done something about it in his product R&D.

That story needed telling and we were able to do it once we’d got him to look back at it from the outside. Needless to say the journalists we contacted were equally enamoured.

So the lesson is don’t think your history is too boring, your knowledge and expertise not worth shouting about. And definitely don’t think media is beyond you for the media are just people… you just need to learn how to talk their language!


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