Nearly every single day - and that is not an exaggeration - a small biz owner or entrepreneur throws a pitching scenario at me, whether via email, in a face-to-face conversation or in the Tin Shingle forum, and what they want to know at the end of their story is simple: "Why am I not getting press?" Usually they've been pitching a specific outlet or story for weeks or months and are not getting the traction they need. Here's the deal: Sure, there are several reasons why a story or pitch isn't getting picked up but no matter what type of business someone is in or what type of story they're trying to tell, when I hear their stories, the majority of the time they are making mistakes that fall into one of five categories.
So, in the spirit of getting you that press you've been longing for, I decided to break them down into this handy checklist. Print it out, read it through and be sure these easily changeable behaviors aren't holding you back from buzz building awesomeness (AKA great press).
You aren't following up enough.
These days, a pitch isn't complete if you don't see it as a two part process: a pitch and a follow up. The competition is out there, and they're going after the same editors, producers, tastemakers, bloggers and reporters that you are. The inboxes and voicemails of members of the press are flooded. You need to be seen and heard, and this requires following up. Just start shifting how you think about pitches, and see a follow up as a necessity. Not sure how to follow up the right way? Listen to this podcast, exhale deeply, and begin your (PR) attack!
Your pitch is overwhelming and unclear.
Whenever I get an email or pitch that is basically an entire page of copy with no breaks, no bullets, no separation and no images, my hand moves slowly over to the "delete" button. My brain just doesn't want to take all of that in, and dig the lead/purpose of it out. I know I'm not alone. If you can't tell your story, share your pitch, in a concise, clear and brief way (with bullets!) you are dramatically decreasing your chances of your pitch getting read and/or understood. Are you all, "can someone just SHOW me what this should look like?" Sure. This super podcast tells you all about writing the perfect pitch and also includes a PDF example of an actual pitch!
You are pitching the wrong person - even though you don't think you are.
Just because you see a contact listed as covering your beat, or heard someone tell you that a specific person "is the one" that you should be pitching, doesn't necessarily make it so. A contact who has an industry or topic they cover listed as "beauty" or "food" or "fashion" still most likely has a specific niche within that industry they cover, a specific style or column or segment that governs how they cover their topic, and not everyone - not even everyone in their industry - is the right fit. The only way you can figure this out is by: reading or watching their columns or segments so you "get it", emailing them and asking them about their wants and needs or getting their vibe on social media. Just assuming you are pitching the right person because their industry matches yours is not the key to press - just to wasted time.
You're expecting a result - or response - to come faster than should be expected.
Here's the real deal guys and gals: In a perfect world, the moment you send out a pitch it would be answered, and answered with a big, fat "YES where have you been all of my life?!". Unfortunately, that's not how PR works, - it's not paid advertising. We can't control it. Members of the press are inundated with emails and they can't always get back to us ASAP. So sure, though it seems to be taking forever, you may be on someone else's schedule, they may have you filed away to check on later, heck they may be using you already for a future story or TV show segment (as happened to THIS entrepreneur whose product appeared on the Today Show without warning) and you may not even know it! The key here is to go back to my first point: follow up politely and professionally, and overall, just stay calm. In PR I believe it's a combination of : the best things come to those who try, and the ability to keep trying comes to those who are calm and patient!