Anyone who’s tried their hand at promoting a brand through PR can tell you that grabbing the media’s attention isn’t always easy.
Each day, newspaper journalists, as well as hosts and producers of TV and radio talk shows, scroll through a never-ending barrage of email messages, many of which they no doubt delete without reading.
Let’s face it, they couldn’t write about or report on all those topics even if they wanted to. Time just doesn’t allow it. So, with competition for the media’s attention so fierce, is it even possible to separate yourself from the pack and land an interview that will help build your credibility as a go-to expert in your field?
I’m here to tell you that, yes, it is possible, though a challenge if you have no experience playing the media’s game, which is why so many people turn to professionals. Still, if you’re determined to do it on your own, let me share a few things you need to keep in mind that can help you achieve success.
First, remember that while your goal is to promote your personal or company brands, that’s not the media’s goal. If your pitch sounds like a commercial, the media will suggest you contact their advertising departments.
As I point out in my upcoming bookGaining the Publicity Edge: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Growing Your Brand Through National Media Coverage, what the media actually do want is useful and interesting information they can share with their readers, viewers, and listeners.
So, with that in mind, here are four tips to help make your pitches more successful:
- Keep it short. You no doubt have a lot to say about your topic, but don’t say it all in your pitch. Print journalists and TV and radio show hosts don’t have time to read a thesis, no matter how remarkable your insights are, so keep it succinct. Think of those pitches as more like a movie preview, not the feature presentation. Certainly, include enough information for them to get the gist of what you can talk about, but leave all those extraordinary details you are tempted to cram into the pitch for the actual interview.
- Solve a problem. The best ideas for articles and talk show interviews are those that help solve a problem the readers or audiences face. People perk up when your message means something to them personally, such as providing them tips on how to stick with a diet or save more for retirement. Ask yourself this: What are some of the problems my clients or customers are trying to solve? Those problems—and the solutions you can offer—can be the inspiration for a pitch.
- Playoff what’s happening in the news. You increase your chances of engaging the media’s interest if your pitch aligns with something they are already writing and talking about. What’s going on that fits into your area of expertise? Are you a surgeon who can explain a new breakthrough involving your specialty, and what it will mean to patients? Are you a divorce lawyer who can comment on the latest celebrity split? One of our clients was a scientist who could talk about an eclipse that was in the news. We kept him busy with radio interviews leading up to that astronomical event!
- Highlight your credentials. Why should the media—and the media’s audience—listen to you? Don’t dump your entire resume in the media’s laps, but you do want to include a short summary of relevant information about your background and expertise. For example, if you are a financial professional, let them know what licenses and certifications you have, and that you’ve been a partner in your firm for 10 years.
Finally, understand that pitching the media can take patience. Your first pitch might not get any takers. Your second and third might not either.
Don’t despair. At the end of your pitches, let the media know that if they have no interest in this particular idea, you’re available to talk about other topics related to your expertise as well.
“In the publicity game, persistence pays off.”
Marsha Friedman, PR Expert