Gaining media coverage for business owners is one of the main goals of my clients. Media coverage is great because it solidifies you as the expert in your industry and it is FREE! You also get to add it to capitalize on your media features by utilizing it as content for your blog, social media platforms and adding it to your media kit. However, before you seal the deal, there are so many things that need to be taken into consideration. The last thing you want to do is present you or your business to the media in negative light. This will guarantee that your pitch ends up in their email’s trash folder. Over the years, I have been featured on tons of media including national television, radio shows and print outlets. This has taught me how to work with media professionals (writers, producers, bloggers, etc) and I happily pass this expertise on to my clients.
The one thing that all media professionals have in common is the need for good content. If you cannot provide it, then you are basically wasting their time (and yours). “Pitching” basically means sending (primarily through email communication) a media rep your story idea, in hopes of being featured on their medium i.e. television show, magazine feature, radio show interview, etc. Unfortunately, newbie PR assistants and uninformed business owners often pitch the media incorrectly, making it even harder for the media professional to filter through their massive email inboxes for that “golden ticket pitch”.
Here are my tips in what NOT to do when pitching.
1. Listing the contact person’s name incorrect or not listing a name at all
If you do not take away anything from this post, take away this: Triple check the name (and spelling, which will lead me to point #2) of the contact person you are emailing your pitch and ensure they are the appropriate contact person. You should not be sending the evening news producer your morning show ideas. You would surely be blessed by the media gods if a producer has an extra few moments and the kindness in their heart to forward your pitch to the appropriate contact. Lucky for you, we live in the information age where it is pretty easy to find out the names and emails of people we are trying to reach. Take the time to make sure this is right so they will read beyond this point in the pitch. Opening your email with “Hi Angela” vs “To Whom This May Concern” makes a world of difference and shows that you at least know who you are pitching.
2. Typos and grammatical errors
If I had a dollar for every time my name was misspelled in an email from someone wanting a job, internship, or anything else, I would be on my island purchased with said dollars. Spelling someone’s name incorrectly is the most avoidable mistake. Take a few moment to visit their website or LinkedIn profile (cut and paste it just to be sure). Typos and grammatical errors within the pitch are unacceptable. It shows a lack of the quality needed to be trusted on-air, on-screen, or even in print: detail-oriented. If you are selected to be featured in their media outlet, you are not only representing yourself and your business, but that channel/station/website. Send your draft pitch to that ‘grammar Nazi’ friend (we all have one!) to be sure you are not overlooking mistakes. We are only human and can miss something after reading the same paragraph three times.
3. Following up with a phone call two minutes after emailing the pitch
Simply put: this irritates the mess out of producers. Do not call to “follow up” or “make sure you received” the pitch having just emailed them. You have to play the waiting game and have patience or you will sabotage your chances at being taken seriously. Give them at least 1-2 business days before making a follow up call or sending another email.
4. Expecting the media professional to do the work for you
Whether you have a relationship with the media rep you are pitching or not, do not expect them to do your job. You should be prepared with a complete pitch including talking points, location ideas (if applicable) and at least two backup pitches when your initial pitch is turned down (hey, it happens much more often than not, so be prepared to increase your chances of being brought in as the expert).
5. Having a lack of respect for their time
Every producer, writer and in-demand blogger I have ever worked with has always been busy. They do not have time to read your three page life story or your “About Us” page. Stick to a lively introduction with at least 3-5 bulleted points to allow them to read and understand your pitch easily. Direct them to your website to learn more about your business or (even better) a direct link to a video of you doing your thing. If you have not met, video is the best way to instantly show them your personality and skill-set, in addition to providing them with a great pitch.
With these five tips on what not to do, you are on your way to your next media feature! If you are interested in working one-on-one with me in crafting media pitches, marketing/sales strategies and other business development tools, contact me at www.tamikaprice.com