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7 Important Things to Consider When Contacting Media Outlets

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how to contact media outlets properly

Public Relations is accessible to anyone these days. Thanks to the internet, social media in particular and the rise of content consumption, there are viral opportunities waiting for you.   

You no longer need a Public Relations firm to find media contacts and connect with them. This is great news if you are an entrepreneur and don’t have a huge budget to hire one. In all reality, you don’t need one anyways.  

It’s time to take advantage of the time we live in. Here are seven tips to help you get featured in the media, create buzz and gain credibility:

1. Research your target media market

Before you start reaching out to reporters, you need to be able to understand which media outlets (ie) blogs, magazines, podcasts, radio and TV your potential customers are reading, listening to and watching.  

Many times, the revenue generating PR results come from smaller outlets that reach your niche audience while the largest influencers are great for validating your credibility and bragging rights.

Tip: One way to do this is to look at your Facebook business page and look at your customer’s interests. Click on the top “Insights” and scroll down to “Pages to Watch.” These are ones Facebook sees as your competitors. You can click on any of them and see where they’ve been featured, which media and bloggers they are engaging with to reach their target market, which will be your target market, too. You can also go to competitors websites and look at their press page.

“Understand why you are different and how you help, recognize your target market, and give them something they might not even realise they are missing.” – Chris Murray

2. Understand the media outlets style

If you are going to proactively reach out and pitch media, you’ll need to research the media outlet and specifically look at how the journalist writes or reports. When you understand their tone and style, you’ll more likely be successful in pitching them.

Tip: If the writer always writes in listicles, part article and then list, pitch them a listicle. Mimic their writing style. Always be sure to check their submission guidelines and follow them. For tone, check if they write positively or negatively, serious or funny, fact or fictions about the topic and make sure you are in alignment.

 

3. Writing a relatable pitch

This is one of the most important elements when contacting media outlets. Without communicating how your story will benefit their readers, listeners or viewers in a direct and creative way, you don’t stand a chance.

Tip: Find a statistic that is relevant to what you are pitching to make it newsworthy or insert yourself as an expert in a trending story or pitch your entrepreneurial journey as a feature. Be sure to include what is notable and relevant to that specific media outlet and journalist or reporter.

 

4. Creating a subject line that grabs attention

In order for your email to get opened, it needs to have a hook or no one will ever read your pitch and you won’t be featured.

Tip: Don’t get desperate and write “RE:” like you are replying to their email.  It’s annoying and they know what you are doing. While everyone has personal preferences and there is no one type fits all solution. I’ve found that writing a headline like they write in their articles or asking a question is a good way to get your email opened.  

 

5. Build a relationship with the media

Authenticity creates connections. In the past, press releases were a standard but in our personality driven online world, authenticity and a more casual approach work well.

It is still important to include a solid pitch and be respectful but showing some personality is also okay.  We’re all human and if you can make someone smile during a busy work day they will pay attention.

Tip: The acceptable social network for connecting with media is Twitter. Follow the reporter/journalist and like or retweet their tweets. They are building their social proof in this transparent digital world, too, so help them by sharing their work and you may be helping yourself, too.  

If this doesn’t come natural to  you, try using a “P.S. I’m a chocolate lover, too” or whatever personal information you found in their Twitter profile or elsewhere that you genuinely relate to.

“Build the right relationships with the right people and nurture them over time and you’ll always have a leg up on the competition.” – Paul May

6. Take action and submit your proposal

No matter what you do, if you are too scared to reach out or make a mistake, you will stay stuck right where you are. That’s not where you want to be.  

Tip: Just do it! Hit SEND! Don’t worry. It’s not personal if you don’t get a response. Your timing may not be right for that media outlet or they could’ve already filled that topic or they changed directions but most of the time, they won’t communicate it because they are busy and it is your role to “serve” them like a concierge at a hotel.  

 

7. Following up like a diplomat

Classy persistence works. If you can consistently stay top of mind and try new angles, you will eventually fit in somewhere and the journalist or reporter will learn you are not going away.

Tip: Follow up one time, one week later and if you still don’t hear back, then come back a month later or when you have a new angle or product to introduce.

What tactic have you personally used to stand out to a media outlet? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

When Rachel Olsen, Founder, RachelAOlsen.com and BestMomProducts.com is not teaching her Business Celebrity Masterclass ~ PR in 1 hour a day in 1 month, writing business books, or helping small businesses gain mass media exposure, she's baking and playing with her 2 young daughters in San Diego, CA. Barbara Corcoran endorsed her best-selling book Shark Tank MOMpreneurs Take a Bite Out of Publicity from one, cold email pitch. She’s also been featured and landed clients in Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fortune, Huffington Post, NY Times and plenty of other fancy media outlets.

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    Charlene Rhinehart

    Jun 30, 2016 at 12:05 am

    This is great advice, Rachel! Thanks for sharing! I started my business last year and realized that I was spending more time marketing myself and positioning myself as a credible expert rather than working on the business itself. These are helpful tips that I could use now as I seek to reinvent myself and strengthen my online presence. Thank you for sharing these valuable PR nuggets!

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