How To Become A Journalist’s Go-To Resource

Many entrepreneurs are excellent at being able to talk about the product they sell or the services they offer. When they are in front of a potential customer, it’s game on. However, when talking with a journalist, the conversation needs to be different.

 

Most reporters will want you to be able to answer one simple question: “Why should MY audience care?”

 

Let’s say you’re trying to get your kitchen product featured on “The Today Show”. Or maybe you want a popular tech blogger to highlight your new software. Or perhaps you have a new book on military defense tactics that’s about to be released. Those are all very different audiences, and as such, you would reach out to different reporters, each with a very different pitch.

 

When making your case for media coverage, concentrate on why it’s so important for the reporter’s audience to hear about it.

 

Here are five things to think about as you make your next media pitch:

 
 
 

1. Take targeting to the next level

The days of blindly sending out press releases should be over. Journalists get dozens of emails a day and are looking for a reason to clear out their inbox. Don’t give them the chance to delete yours because it looks like a mass e-mail. Research the media outlet and find the right reporter or producer who will welcome hearing about your business, product, or service.
 
 
 

2. Make it relevant

In a given day, a local television news station can have up to nine hours of original programming. Every single day. That’s quite a bit of opportunity to share your story, if the message is right. Find a way to tie your story into a developing situation. For example, weather. If your area is being bombarded with sustained high winds, certain experts know exactly what could happen to roofs, shingles, or home siding as a result. Those experts could reach out and share their expertise on maintenance and have a greater chance of being heard if they reach out at the right time and try to offer their knowledge.
 

Do you have an exclusive you can share with just one reporter?
 

Or a special angle of a story that everyone else is covering?
 

Reporters are always on the lookout for stories and welcome ideas that will engage their audience.
 
 
 

3. Leave the sales pitch at home

Feel like this is a perfect opportunity to sell your service or product? Please don’t. If the reporter or producer detects any sort of sales pitch, he/she will send you to the sales department. As you prepare your news release or email, think about the benefit your knowledge offers the reporter’s viewers or readers. In the finance industry? How about offering information that helps first-time home buyers figure out if they can and should buy a home?
 
 
 

4. Find an expert

Journalists are on extremely tight deadlines. If they are assigned a story in the morning, the chances are very good they only have a couple of hours to find interviewees as well as experts on a particular subject matter. If you can offer any suggestions, even if it’s not you, the reporter has a greater chance of remembering you for future stories. Is it a guarantee? No, but that kind of help goes a long way.
 
 
 

5. Be ready for the call

Let’s say you’re successful. Deadlines are tight and time is a luxury. Odds are if you get the green light for your story, a reporter will want to meet you right away. If you are unable to make the date, the reporter may have to scramble and find another source. If you just can’t make it happen, being able to share the name of another expert is invaluable.
 
 
 

Bonus tip:

Once you have gotten through and made a connection with a reporter or producer, don’t let that relationship die on the vine. Even if the reporter doesn’t use your story idea, they’re always still looking. Keep reaching out with useful information. You never know when you might be called on again.

 

What success have you had pitching stories to the media? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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Cheryl Tan

Marketing & Media Strategy Consultant at Cheryl Tan Media
Cheryl Tan is the owner of Tan Media LLC, a marketing and media strategy consulting company based in Virginia Beach, VA.With almost two decades of TV news anchoring/reporting experience under her belt, she offers entrepreneurs a real-world look at how to attract media attention and what to do once you get it.Want to get her best tips?Sign up for her free mini-course, “Two Weeks to Media Mastery,” at www.CherylTanMedia.com.
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