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Presents: #DIYPR Webinar Series Module 4, June 23 Part One: The Pitching Process Part Two: Establishing Your Expert Status Presented by: Cyndy Hoenig, Partner Contact: Cyndy@hlmediapartners.com Twitter -- @cyndyhoenig Facebook.com/hlmediapartners
The Pitching Process: How & When to Contact the Media
Now that you’ve found your target media, and started your media list process, you’ll need to prepare your pitch. Pitching the media is one of the most dreaded activities of many PR professionals and business owners and professionals who want to get media coverage on their own.
Why is it so nerve-wracking? Probably because in many ways it’s similar to co ld calling, scary for most people. One difference is that the buyer (the reporter, producer, editor), is not paying any money. Their currency is media coverage -- something that is often more coveted, because it may lead to many sales.
Another difference is that the media person bu ys many story ideas every day, and is actively looking for great story ideas. So you have an easier chance to make a sale, than if you were selling one product. In addition, if your media pitch includes the details below, you now have a prospect, instead of a cold call. Before you make that call, you need to be prepared.
Pitch ideas, not topics. While the rule is "if you can't write your idea on the back of a business card, you don't have one," editors need more than that.. A fully fleshed story idea has a news hook or angle and answers the question, "Why are we doing this now?" The answer "because we never did it before" is lame. A story idea has news elements -- importance, conflict or resolution.
Prepare your pitch with a little reporting. Talk to some people. Search the newspaper's library. Is this really a new idea? You don't want to be pitching a story that was written six months ago. Do some reporting to flesh out the idea. Who is behind the story? What make it news? How is it developing? Why does it matter to our readers?
Make your case. You want to pitch a story about a little restaurant that is shutting after a short but successful run. It doesn't sound like much of a story -- unless you can say that the restaurant was the only place where homeless people and business people ate, side by side. Or was the only place in the city that served authentic Mexican food, and now people will have to drive to Texas to find it. Or the owner is closing shop because she is going to take the profits and sail around the world. Do enough reporting so that the editor can take this story into a news meeting and talk it up to other editors.
Understand what the newspaper is looking for. If you come up with a story that connects to one of the newspaper's key initiatives, you have something. They say they care about the well-being of children and you have a story about children having no safe place to play. You're onto something.
Look at it from the editor's point of view. Frame your idea in a way that will strike the right chords with the newspaper and get your story into print.
Try another angle. You've sharpened, focused and retooled. No dice. There may be another avenue. Sometimes you're pitching the wrong editor. If the metro editor won't take it, will the features editor? Could it be a photo story w/ a cutline? There's more than one way to get an idea into print.
Explain why you think the story is important. You and the editor may have different perspectives, but you're not from different planets. Listen to the editor's questions. Find out what it will take to move your idea to the story stage. Be willing to explain, negotiate and sharpen the idea.
Media Relations is 98% preparation and 2% execution. This is critical and what truly leads to successful media placements.
Research the media outlet. Find the appropriate reporter, producer or editor for your story pitch.
Research the reporter. Read past stories and check out their contact preferences if you are using a Media Directory.
Familiarize yourself with the outlet and its particular focus or personality. Do your homework first. Watch the TV shows, listen to several radio shows, read several issues of magazines and blogs, and a week’s worth of newspapers, to really get a feel for a media outlet.
Prepare Pitch Points with all the pertinent facts about your company and the story you're pitching before you call or email. This is vital, especially if your mind goes blank when the editor answers the phone. Having your press materials in paper form in front of you is also very helpful, especially if you get asked detailed questions.
Prepare more than one story angle. Don't waste everybody's time by putting all of your P.R. eggs in one basket. Have a couple of things to toss out. This shows editors you're savvy enough to know they may not bite on a single story. I offer three and number them as such so I can organize them on my follow up chart, i.e.,
1. Women in Business Personal Profile
2. Community Volunteer who is receiving Lifetime Achievement Award
Call your Contact with a brief pitch. Call the journalist. Your first four words should be, Ar e you on deadline? Then give them the heads up that you’re sending a pitch and describe briefly -- your 10-second pitch. Reporters receive hundreds of e-mails a day, including many press releases and pitches. It’s tough to compete with that. But if you can get interest from a reporter before you send in information, you’re much more likely to receive publicity coverage.
When emailing media materials, remember -- No attachments without permission.
1. When the media calls, stop what you’re doing and give them your full attention. A reporter can interview you for an hour and you might have only one line in the story or segment. Or none. Depending on how the story goes or space available or the editor’s whim, any of the above can happen. The reporters owe you nothing for your time.
2. You have control over advertising; you have minimal control over PR. A media piece may not contain the s t ory that you would like covered. It may focus on a different angle. The reporter determines what angle to use, depending on his/her needs and information you provide. You may not like a quote that was attributed to you, or you may not like how you looked on TV. This is part of the PR process.
3. Sometimes, after a phone interview, you will be misquoted. This is pretty typical. Unless it is truly a libelous or slanderous comment, you should take it in stride. DO NOT decide to complain to the reporter, or you will certainly not be getting any press, at least not favorable press, in that media again. Sure, you prefer a feature story about your business. However, even a brief mention can be very valuable to your publicity goals. Most media outlets work on many more stories that cover trends or groups of businesses in an industry, instead of profiling just one business. You can be scheduled for an interview ,and it may get cancelled at the last minute due to another news story that takes priority. This is typical in the media and something you should understand.
4. Do not discuss other media coverage unless you are specifically asked. The media overwhelmingly prefers to report stories and use sources that are not ov erexposed. Bringing up other media you have been covered in is at best a turnoff, and at worst will result in the reporter deciding not to cover your story.
5. Give several contact numbers to your interviewer. The press waits for no one.
6. Be realistic about when the media will cover you. Typically, daily newspapers, radio and TV have a one-day to three-month coverage window. Magazines have a 2-3 month to one-year window. The lead times vary depending on editorial calendars, seasonal coverage and breaking news.
7. The media chooses when they want to run a story; you have little control over when they run it, unless it is tied in with a timely event, such as a holiday. While you would love to see your story on the 6 o’clock news or the front-page of the business section, the media may have other stories slotted for those options, or they may need to fill a space in another segment. You might want your story to run immediately, but the media may hold it for months. And you may not want it to run on a holiday weekend, but that’s where the opening is.
Follow up Sheet Cyndy Hoenig & Heather Lytle • H&L Media Partners • hlmediapartners.com 7 Send addl info 2 - Award 405.621.9000 Hcentrella @okcbiz.com OKC Biz Managing Ed. Heidi Centrella Will assign to Paula Burkes 1 - Women in Biz 405.475.3284 Cbunyan @opubco.com Oklahoman Biz Editor Clytie Bunyan Results Angle Phone Email Outlet Title Name
Establish your Expert Status Cyndy Hoenig & Heather Lytle • H&L Media Partners • hlmediapartners.com 9 One of the best lead generators is the free publicity generated when you are perceived to be a recognized expert in your industry. It doesn’t matter what field of business you are in. If your clients and the media perceive you to be an expert, they will seek you out for advice, your perspective on stories they are researching or even to offer you business. In order to be an expert, you must study your subject thoroughly. It is said that with a 1000 hours of practice you become an expert. Most of us work around 2000 hours per year, so you can see it doesn’t take long to acquire the knowledge you need. If you have been working on your specialty for a while, you are already an expert. Your job is to become known as an expert. Write an Ebook, Blog, Comment on Journalists’ blogs, Twitter.
Tips to Establish Your Expert Status Cyndy Hoenig & Heather Lytle • H&L Media Partners • hlmediapartners.com 10
Figure out your needle-in-the-haystack uniqueness & use it in your elevator speech. Use that phrase everywhere, on Facebook, Twitter. It should be just a few words or a line and put it everywhere --from your business cards to your website.
Give face time. Make sure people know and see your photo. Do you have an of ficial current photo? Have you plastered it as many places as possible? You are the brand: People have to know who you are.
Make a list of your best 20 revenue customers. Then, figure out which media outlets they follow. Make up a list of the 20 editors or journalists that most influence your 20 money makers. Create a media tip list for those 20 journalists: on an irregular basis, only when you have ideas or things you know they want, send it to them.
Don’t just donate time, stake out a leadership position. At an association that can benefit from your participation, you’ll meet and help others.
Be seen and travel. Take clients, current and former, as well as prospects to lunch or dinner. You can listen to what they want, and learn how you can serve them. And always pick up the check. People don’t remember what they had to eat, but they always remember who picked up the check.
Speak? Train? Consult? Coach? You’ve bottled a lot of information and experience over the years. Are you re-packaging it? Turn those ideas into an e-book. What are you selling? Solutions, ideas, driving lessons or therapy? If you have a book, it will start conversations which end in conversions and business for you.
The news media is now everyone who can find you on the Web. Are your ideas being br oadcast so more people find you? Are you creating new ideas, and moving forward and bringing those who search on problems to find your solutions? People know their problems; they don’t know your solutions. Have you made a list of your clients’ problems? The blogs, comments and news releases you publish reach the media, the Internet, syndication and, most importantly, your buyers that search the Internet.
Have testimonials available and use them. What do people say about you on h e street? Find out by asking around.
Now that you’ve established your expert status, offer to speak for free . You will get free PR by offering your time, your expertise, ideas and tips.
Offer your services to Chambers, business groups, charitable groups, trade associations .
Call or email the program chair or other contact of a group to see if they’re interested in your topic. Have your bio and a paragraph describing your topic ready to email at a moment’s notice.
Seminars and Workshops Hands-on, interactive ways for people to learn from experts. You are an expert as you have information that other people would love to know about. Cyndy Hoenig & Heather Lytle • H&L Media Partners • hlmediapartners.com 12
Fill an unmet need.
Do people ask you for advice on any particular subject?
Location, location, location
Target market - hotel or community center
Cost - hotel meeting room
Equipment - AV, screen, microphone
Refreshments - food and beverages
Accessibility - access to major freeways
Check out hotels, community centers, executive suites, conference rooms from clients or friends, restaurants, Chambers of Commerce.
WOM - networking at events, twitter, FB, LI
Photograph & Videotape
In conclusion … Cyndy Hoenig & Heather Lytle • H&L Media Partners • hlmediapartners.com 13 Expertclick.com is a website where print, broadcast and Internet reporters go to search for experts. There is an annual fee from $1000 to $2500 per year. Radio/TV Interview Report - RTIR.com - the world’s largest database of experts who are available for live and phone interviews. Radiopublicity.com - Radio Stations that book guest experts for interviews. Speakermatch.com = Site where you get leads from organizations actively seeking speakers. Memberships start at $49.95/month. TipsBooklets.com - great way to promote your expertise, sell more products and generate publicity. Workshops Hands-on, interactive ways for people to learn from experts. You are an expert as you have information that