Here at Collective E we remind you daily of how essential it is to reach out to the media and do little things to build your buzz daily. That said there are rules when building media relationships, just as there are in regular relationships. Today we'd like to share a few Do's & Don'ts that are guaranteed to help you on your quest to reach out to editors and producers, and hopefully they'll boost your confidence when you're pitching as well. Be sure to check your Collective Exchange emails regularly for more PR tips and remember, it's PR, not ER, so breathe deeply and remember to smile and dial!
Research the outlet you are going to pitch so you know which sections your product is appropriate for and which editors cover your categories. By doing this you may actually find new places to pitch your story and think of new angles! It's also a great way to count reading magazines and flipping through television programs "research" becuase it is!
Research the editorial calendars (story calendars) of the magazines you are pitching. This will tell you who to pitch, what to pitch, and when to pitch, or at the very least let you know what they plan on working on for the year. This is essential to your PR campaign! Find these manually or if you are a Tin Shingle Core member find editorial calendars all online here on this site!
Go to the websites of shows like The Rachael Ray Show, Martha Stewart Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and The Tyra Banks Show and find out what they have scheduled for future shows. These programs usually book on a short lead schedule (meaning not too far in advance) so you could be just what they are looking for. Knowing what they need before you call them gives you extra ammunition and background information while going in to pitch.
Always pitch with a script in front of you when you are on the phone - seasoned pros still do so there is no reason you should not be. This prevents moments of embarassment when you forget or freeze up, and will leave you feeling more confident.
Send thank you notes when you have received a placement or were given a deskside appointment by an editor, and include something small in it that will remind them of your brand.
Try to schedule a deskside appointment so that you can get your product in front of them. Try to schedule several of these appointments at once in one place ( ie at Hearst one day, Conde Nast another, etc), this way you can say "Hey I'll be in the building on Tuesday, can I swing by and show you my XXX very quickly when you are free?".
Have a media kit and all your branding information, line sheets, bio, and photos ready to go BEFORE pitching so you can email a follow up immediately afterwards.
Email a follow up immediately after talking to any member of the press. In the subject line include "we just spoke" at the beginning of the email so they remember who you are. As always introduce yourself and your brand in the email.
Send an email or phone pitch that does not include an opening sentence introducing yourself and saying hello. If you have pitched before always remind them who you are -the media receive hundreds of pitches weekly, and not introducing yourself is like being that person who says "hey it's me" when they call you. Don't be that person it will start the pitch on the wrong foot.
Never email and say "just checking in" , or "did you get my package" or "when will you put me in your magazine/on your show". Editors and producers are looking for what is best for their outlet and their viewers and readers. If they have your informaiton or products and you want to reach out, create a productive reason to reach out: share a new product line, share a new angle or pitch that could work for them, work your product into the season or trend they are currently working on, touch base regarding company news, but do not just call to see if they have your product. That interrupts their already busy day.
Do not let them know about all the other press you are getting. These magazines and television shows in essence are competing against each other, and if you tell them that other magazines or shows are covering your product, why would they want to cover you? They want new, fresh, unique, and exciting products, not something that is seen everywhere. When pitching keep you past buzz to yourself, unless the buzz is irrelevant to the outlet you are pitching and will only support you (ie, "Hi Real Simple, did you know that this product won an award by the Home Organizers Association for it's XXX qualities").
Do not keep calling or emailing the press and asking them when your placement will be on newsstands. They will tell you if they are using you, and if they are deduce the newsstand date by finding out what month the magazine issue you are in is. Long leads will be on newsstands a month early ( ie December issue is out in November, etc).
Do not assume your placement if finalized until you are reading it or watching it.
Do not forget to be patient, publicity campaigns are marathons not sprints if you want to be around for years to come.
Don't forget to share your business story, not just your product story, to ensure longevity.
Don't ever send unsolicited samples if you want them back, and want to stay on an editor's good side.
Don't ever give up, if you don't believe in your brand no one else will!