Having been affiliated with the local media for over fourteen years, I can’t tell you how often people or businesses have asked me how to get their story featured- whether they wanted exposure on television, radio, print or online. And now that I own my own business, I totally get it. Everyone (including myself) would appreciate a little media love from time to time for their business.

So many tend to use a traditional approach of sending a press release or e-mail to a generic e-mail address or fax number and not directed to any specific person. In these cases, the sender isn’t considering just how many press releases or e-mails are received by the media on any given day.

The hard truth is that so many of these press releases or e-mails go straight to the recycling bin (I’ve witnessed it many, many times!), as the media businesses don’t have the time to review every piece of paper or e-mail that comes through on their end.

As an “insider,” here are my top six tips for getting the media to feature your story:

  1. It must be a story worth publishing. Be honest with yourself – and make sure that your story is one that others will want to hear or read about. Oftentimes, individuals or businesses simply want exposure or fifteen minutes of fame, and it is very obvious to the media that that is all you are seeking. A good test is to share your story with a handful of friends or associates, and ask them if they would be interested in reading or listening to your story. If not, try a different angle or approach to the story. What makes your story unique? Is it inspiring, funny, impressive, scary, etc.? If it is simply a glorified ad — or comes across as “advertorial” versus editorial — just know that it likely won’t be worth anyone’s time to even consider it. Your story needs to have that “X” factor that will get people’s attention.
  2. It’s all about WHO you know. Think about it. If you have someone on the inside that is your internal cheerleader at a television station, radio station, magazine or online blog, you have higher odds than the next guy for being considered for your story. The programmers/ editorial departments are much more likely to open an e-mail or answer a phone call from someone they work with internally than someone they don’t know at all. If you don’t know anyone internally, do some research online through the media company’s website, social media sites, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.—or ask your own network of friends/colleagues if anyone is connected to XYZ media company. Have them provide an e-introduction for you, so you may follow up with your new contact and request to be connected with the right individual for editorial/ programming consideration.
  3. Hire a PR/ marketing consultant that has strong connections with the media. If you don’t have a direct connection within the media business, a PR/marketing consultant or firm is another great option. Before you select one, make sure they have a solid reputation within the market, find out who their past and current clients are, and decide if their skills and expertise align with your industry and primary objectives. (I could go on and on about this one—perhaps I will in a future blog.) Bottom line is, you want to be sure you and the PR/marketing consultant are on the same page and communicate well with one another about your goals and expectations.
  4. Be humble and respectful. Just as in life, people respond better to those who are respectful. It amazes me when people/ businesses are demanding towards the media, saying things like, “You have to tell my story.” This is one of the biggest turn-offs from the media’s standpoint, as they have so many stories pitched to them each day, and they must select the most appropriate stories for their audience. Put yourself in the shoes of who you are contacting. Imagine receiving hundreds or thousands of story requests/ ideas each day. Instead of commanding a story, be humble in your request, and let them know what about your story will be appealing to their viewers/ listeners/ readers.
  5. Keep it brief. You don’t need to write a novel as your pitch for your story. Make the media want more! Create one or two possible headlines/ introductory statements, write a brief paragraph providing an overview, and include a website link more information- and of course, all your contact information for them to ask any questions. You can also attach a press release to your e-mail, but remember that attachments in e-mails that are not recognized may automatically go to a junk file.
  6. Establish yourself as a resource to the media company. Show your willingness to help the television station/ radio station/ magazine/ website, any time they could use your expertise. For example, if you own your own business or have great tips or inside scoop within your industry, stay connected with the media by sharing your knowledge and resources. You will be providing great value to the media company- and you just may become their “go-to” person whenever they feature something related to your industry.

At the end of the day, be authentic to who you are and the business you represent. Authenticity always goes a long way, both personally and professionally.

Do you have additional ideas to share on how to get the media’s attention?  Share your comments below!

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