The key to getting great press for your business is not having the contacts to your dream media outlets and it's not getting the opportunity to meet them at a networking meeting or "meet the press" event. No, the key is being a master at creating authentic relationships. It's about making people want to help you. It's about offerings that are mutually beneficial. In some ways, it's also about making small tweaks to how we speak, email, make "the ask", and communicate what we want and what we have to share with the world.
I can still recall the "big day" back when I started working in PR and I received my first set of "sexy contacts." We're talking Today Show, Rachael Ray Show, Real Simple - the whole Rolodex. I basically figured all my clients would be famous by the following week. I learned the hard way that this was not how life, or relationships of any kind work. The real power is learning how to create meaningful and powerful relationships. This can take years, but go start you off on the right foot (or keep you there) we've got some do's and don'ts that will help you!
Remember the Fundamental Rules About People:
When I was younger my dad taught me the following things that are true for all people: "Sabina, people want just a few things out of life, and everyone wants them: to feel loved, to feel like they matter, and to do something with their lives that feels like it matters as well."
BAM there's your secret to the mindset you need when you begin reaching out to the press. Make them feel like what they do matters. This means you read their stories or watch their show, you know who they are, that they are more than just a name, they are a real person who has a specific "beat: and job. You need to take the time to figure it out. Make them feel like they matter: Don't just send them a spam email, personalize it. Don't think that sending a press release out to a massive email list will do the trick. Do address them personally in an email and mention why you think your story will work for them. Do communicate on the phone, email or social media platforms in a kind, respectful manner. Do figure out how and when they like to be pitched (PS the fastest way to do this is simply by asking). Make them feel loved: Okay now, you don't have to propose or send them roses, but you do need to make them feel, well, liked! You follow them on social media, you check out their website if they have one, you get to know who they are and how they tick, you praise their stories from time to time, you send them thank you notes if they help you, you develop a real relationship you don't just send them a "one off ask" for something and move on.
My point here is that you need to start realizing that these members of the media are people too - Press, They're Just Like Us! - and they deserve you to treat them that way and not just as members of a massive email list. The sooner you do that the sooner you'll start getting the stories you want, and more importantly, the relationships that can change your business.
HELP ME HELP YOU
The key to getting great stories is to create mutually beneficial offerings. This means you need to figure out who their readers, listeners or viewers are and how you can help them. This means tailoring your expert tips to their audience, it means pitching stories in the style of specific columns, it means showing the value your pitch will bring them, and not vice versa. The minute you start thinking less about "how can I help ME" and turn it into "how can I help YOU" is the moment you start breaking through to your contact list!
TAKE A DEEP BREATH, SLOW DOWN & GIVE ME A FEW GOOD PITCHES
We've all been there: we're small biz owners and entrepreneurs, we desperately want to get our brand story out there but we have zero bandwidth left, so we cut corners for the sake of time. We think that blasting out 200 pitches via our newsletter program will save us time and land us the press we need. We blast out a massive press release instead of taking the time to craft 5 great pitches (most of which can be from the similar root pitch and customized slight for their recipient). STOP DOING THIS. Let's do the math: if you create a "root pitch" that is the basis of your product/service pitch and you customize it for just two outlets a day, you're sending a great pitch to ten people a week. Ten people who could change your business forever. And that's on the generous side. Five people would be just as good - three people would! My point? It's far better to put the care into a few good pitches rather than wasting even 2 minutes on sending a crappy one out to 200 and getting zero response.
DON'T FORGET THE BASICS AND THE BELLS & WHISTLES
I can't tell you how many pitches forget the following things when they cross my desk for approval, make sure yours isn't one of them:
Salutation (with their correctly spelled name)
- Introduction to who you are, your website, and why you're writing
- A clear pitch with a short introduction, and bullets (if you can) outlining the details and highlights of your story or pitch
- All the information they need to understand your story and why it's meant for them
- A sign off that includes your contact information and an offer for further information, linesheets, tips, you name it!