Maybe you’ve just started your business or you’re about to launch a shiny new product. Whatever it is, you know that getting publicity on TV, in magazines and in newspapers will elevate your brand, your credibility, and can drive revenue too.
But how do you get through the media gatekeepers to share your story with the world?
To pitch the media and get coverage, avoid these five DIY PR mistakes.
Mistake #1: Making it all about you.
The best lesson I learned studying PR is this: nobody cares about your business as much as you do. Harsh, but true. Reframe the perspective of thinking from “I just launched this widget” to “This is how our widget will solve your audience’s problems.” A solution-oriented PR focus is far more likely to get media success than focusing the pitch on yourself or your business.
Mistake #2: Pitching the wrong person.
Between LinkedIn and Google, there’s no excuse for reaching out to the wrong editor, writer or producer. Not to mention, if you pitch your story to the wrong person (or fail to do the research) it shows a total lack of understanding for their work. Take the time to delve into the masthead of a magazine, watch the credits of a TV show and do some online research to ensure that you’re emailing (yes emailing, not calling) the right contact at the target media outlet.
Mistake #3: Bad timing.
Did a major event or natural disaster just occur? Is there one hot topic that’s going to be talked about for days or weeks? Then guess what: unless your news can directly relate to the current topic du jour, now is not the time to pitch your business.
Aside from news timing, be cognizant of the time of day you reach out. Don’t pitch newspapers after 3:00 p.m. – they’re on deadline for tomorrow. Aiming for a morning TV show? Drop them a line between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. – they’re having post-show meetings right after 9:00 and planning for the next day and since they’ve been at it since 5:00 a.m. their days end early!
Mistake #4: Missing out on ‘newsjacking’.
Seemingly contrary to the prior point, if there’s a current hot topic, let’s say for example the launch of a new Android operating system, and your business develops apps, take the focus off of your specific brand and build credibility as an authority. Lending your expert point of view on how a new OS will affect developers everywhere establishes credibility, awareness and can fuel subsequent news stories.
Mistake #5: Not being ready.
Do you have your media kit ready? Are high res, press ready images readily available? Are your key messages clear? Having your ducks lined up in a row is key when you reach out to media. If they love your pitch and are ready to hit “publish” on your story tomorrow, you need to be ready!
Ensure media samples of your product are available and that all spokespeople are trained and ready to act. The fastest way to get on the media’s bad side is to not be prepared and present a poor interview or ask them to wait while you get organized. Leave a positive impression by having everything they may need (e.g., B-roll, images, website, collateral, etc.) ready so that they can hit their own deadlines in a timely fashion.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Lisa Simone Richards, Principal of Vitality PR & Communications, has spent more than ten years working with brands of all sizes to grow their businesses through effective public relations and marketing strategies. Her clients have secured coverage in some of North America’s largest media outlets including Shape, Oxygen, Self and FitnessRX for Women. As a sought-out speaker, panelist and writer, Lisa Simone has been featured in the Globe & Mail, FASHION, SheKnows and more.