109 Ways to Make Your Business Irresistible to the Media

image of hat with press pass

Ever wonder why some businesses get press and some don’t? Getting a mainstream media outlet to pay attention to your business seems like an impossible-to-solve mystery.

You might see your competitors spouting a diatribe that you know for a fact is wrong, or that you could explain better.

“Why did they interview that guy instead of me?” you wonder.

Actually, it’s not you. 99 times out of 100, it’s not your qualifications, your knowledge, or your ability.

It’s your approach.

After 10 years as a journalist, I’ve seen just about every bad pitch you can imagine. And I’ve also come up with 109 foolproof ways to entice the media in your city to highlight your business — approaches that make the mainstream media unable to resist you.

(And lots of them work just as well with bloggers and social media influencers.)

Build relationships months in advance of pitching

  1. Connect on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or in real life more than six months in advance of pitching a reporter.
  2. Monitor the Twitter hashtags of your community. Often reporters chat with the public on Twitter, and you can respond to comments they make.
  3. Compliment a reporter via Twitter, Facebook, or e-mail on a story he or she did.
  4. Introduce yourself to reporters at big public or chamber of commerce events. Pass along your card, but don’t try and sell them the idea on the spot. Just be helpful.
  5. Invite reporters out for coffee, and ask a lot of questions about them.
  6. Leave a comment at the end of the online version of a story a reporter did, which you genuinely liked.
  7. Congratulate them on their birthdays, or other personal news they post.
  8. Comb through Muck Rack to find regional or national reporters on Twitter who cover your industry.
  9. Write a positive blog post on your blog highlighting a story of theirs, and e-mail them the link.
  10. Respond regularly to posts they’ve written either on their blog, or on a local community blog you’ve noticed they post on.
  11. Visit city council meetings in your town. Typically there’s a reporter sitting around bored, that you can build a relationship with.
  12. Sign up on helpareporter.com. Several e-mail lists are sent out daily, full of reporters needing experts for stories. Jump on those that fall within your expertise.
  13. Scout publications with smaller and more targeted readerships, such as a local business weekly publication. These media outlets are often run by just two or three people, and they’ll jump at a guest column or article by you because it’ll save them the time of tracking down a story on their own.
  14. Listen to AM radio stations, especially on weekday mornings or on Saturdays. Befriend one of the regular show hosts. Often they’ll highlight any business that is doing something interesting the public might find interesting.
  15. Nix spending money on an online press release site early on. Those online press release systems are more useful for building inbound links, or if you’re already a recognized expert with a track record, and there’s a major news event breaking that you could discuss.
  16. Ask them if they’d mind if you added them to your email list. Then provide them with education-based content marketing to sell them on doing a story about your business.

Once You’ve Met, Make The Pitch Transition Smooth

  1. Say “yes” without fail if a reporter wants to interview you that day, even if it has to be over the phone or while you’re on vacation.
  2. Offer occasional suggestions of angles you think would make great follow-up stories, especially that don’t have anything to do with your business. Nearly all stories are parts of a long-running issues, so reporters always need additional story follow-up ideas.
  3. Offer to connect reporters to experts you know . If the reporter sounds interested, follow through with the offer.
  4. Be a source for stories that fall within your expertise by letting reporters in your industry know you’re available when they need a source. This can lead to regular spots on the news.
  5. Point reporters to blog posts you genuinely think they’d be interested in – whether on your blog or others. It validates you as an expert.
  6. Treat journalists with respect. You’ll set yourself apart just by being friendly.
  7. Keep a camera handy for “spot news” photo opportunities, and then pass along to the media outlet. This can be anything from a deer crashing into a department store while you happened to be there to a good shot of an event or store opening.
  8. Offer to write a column on your specialty for the online website of a media site, or for a print publication in your area.

Ponder These Issues Prior to Pitching

  1. Define the story in just one sentence, so you can easily explain it to the media in 10 seconds.
  2. Include people in your story pitch. Many owners try to pitch their company’s achievements, but stories that sell normally have people involved, not just the company.
  3. Focus on selling the benefits to viewers, listeners or readers first. It’s about their perspective of what you’re selling, not about how wonderful it would be for you to sell your product or service.
  4. Think visually. When can a media station shoot video and pictures? If that’s not possible, are there video or pictures you can provide?
  5. Avoid offering a posed or fake event or picture. They are typically frowned on by the media.
  6. Hold an event where you’re actually doing what you’re talking about, and invite them to come, whether it’s to write a story, or just take a picture or video.
  7. Post your video online for easy download, or put it on DVDs.
  8. Seek permission from the individuals in a potential photo shoot ahead of time.
  9. Highlight trends in which your business is just one of several examples. Nearly every trend can be turned into a story pitch, and it has the added advantage of letting you not hog the limelight, which reporters often don’t find appealing.
  10. Provide actual users of your service or product for the media to interview. Their testimonials will boost your credibility.
  11. Offer to review the facts or your quotes if you feel nervous the journalist misunderstood you. Don’t try to pressure the journalist into letting you review the entire article before publication, though, because media stations normally don’t allow this.
  12. Provide a journalist with an expert to interview who has used and can vouch for your product. If you sell skin cream, for example, ask a dermatologist who likes your product to be available for an interview.
  13. Copy relevant documents for the reporter, to provide at the interview, or prior to it.
  14. Create a list of key dates and facts relevant to the story, along with potential quotes.
  15. Write a couple paragraphs describing the process in simple terms, ideally with a drawing if the story is complex.
  16. Write a killer press release in the form of a ready-made story, if submitting a story to a weekly or a daily in regions of fewer than 50,000 people. You’d be surprised how often a newspaper will print almost exactly what you sent.
  17. Give reporters two weeks’ notice for an upcoming story or event.
  18. Remain flexible. Reporters have days that are jam-packed with breaking news, and other days that are slower and more open to a less-urgent story like yours.
  19. Choose to meet in person if an option, because the journalist will then get to know you better, and you’ll have more time with him or her.
  20. Travel to where the story actually happens for the interview – whether in your office or an hour away at a gravel pit.
  21. Muzzle the natural urge to provide stacks of background research. Most reporters don’t have the time or interest in looking through it.
  22. Leap on breaking news relevant to your industry as a chance to put yourself in the local news. The shootings in Arizona presented an opportunity for anyone who deals with mental health to be interviewed on local radio, television and in the newspaper.
  23. Pitch local stories to local reporters. National attention typically springs from local attention first.
  24. Call ahead and pitch a story, if you’re showcasing your products at a local convention or other major event typically covered by the news. Otherwise reporters just walk the aisles and randomly choose businesses to speak with.
  25. Watch the calendar, and pitch a story that would ideally run around major holidays, when things are often really slow in newsrooms.
  26. Act enthusiastic. If you don’t seem excited about the idea, neither will they.
  27. Express why this story is of value to your community. If it’s a story you wouldn’t bother watching or reading, don’t pitch it.
  28. Show an image that encapsulates the story you’re trying to tell. When Google held a national competition, our video shot on a Flip Camera received national attention from a variety of media outlets because it easily showed in one image how wild the competition became.
  29. Forget about giving up. Don’t be a pest, but keep trying every few weeks to pitch an idea, until a reporter gives a straight yes-or-no answer to your idea.
  30. Write very short e-mails to reporters. Three or four sentences total. Your e-mail is much more likely to get read by busy reporters if it’s short and to the point.
  31. Devote lots of time on e-mail subject lines to reporters. You can apply the same techniques for writing magnetic headlines for blog posts – they make both readers and reporters want to know more about what you have to say.

21 Kinds of Reporter Bait

  1. Hold a fundraising drive.
  2. Do X for the 10th, 20th, 50th year.
  3. Launch a brand new product.
  4. Sell product X locally for the first time.
  5. Provide an environmentally friendly version of a product everyone uses – and be the only local place to purchase it.
  6. Link your underlying story pitch with some basic human emotion, like love, fear or hope. Start a knitting story in memory of your late aunt, who taught you about knitting.
  7. Frame your story as a local example of a national or international issue currently in the news. If Congress is debating health care, and your clinic has developed a unique program for handling people without insurance, you’ve got a pitch.
  8. Time a pitch about your company for a few weeks before your company’s anniversary.
  9. Buck a trend. It’s Christmas Eve, and you’ve seen an uptick in your toy store sales, while everyone else has noticed a downturn.
  10. Launch a product or service in your community no one locally has ever sold.
  11. Highlight that you’re doing something most people are afraid to attempt, such as starting a business during a recession.
  12. Brag. If you’ve been interviewed by a local media outlet, a larger one, or a major publication, play it up. It shows you’re desirable as a media interview.
  13. Spotlight unique ties to major events. Show how your business has doubled through word of mouth marketing after volunteering for two weeks during Hurricane Katrina.
  14. Share how you just hit X,000 regular subscribers on your blog, and show how that translates to online sales. This process remains foreign and therefore fascinating to most reporters.
  15. Reveal how you’ve transitioned a primarily brick-and-mortar store into doing a healthy amount of online sales.
  16. Announce that your business for the first time employs four generations of the same family.
  17. Embrace anything that makes you unique. A local jewelry store owner in Northern Wisconsin received media coverage across all of Minnesota and Wisconsin simply because the owner felt the end of the world was coming soon, and incorporated it into his commercial.
  18. Compile fascinating data. OkCupid.com mined its customer data to show which smartphone users have the most sex. What kind of irresistible statistic could you compile from your business?
  19. Run a weird contest. Be the beauty parlor giving a makeover to the husband of the women who makes the best case that he looks like a slob.
  20. Write an e-book. Just being able to say you’ve written a recently released “book” can be enough of a news hook for a story.
  21. Look for sections in the newspaper that highlight interesting businesses, often under headlines like “What’s That Business.” Normally a simple phone call with a pitch will secure a feature on your business.

How To Become A Favorite Source for Reporters

  1. Explain things chronologically if possible.
  2. Speak slowly, so the reporter has time to take notes and mentally process what you’re saying.
  3. Tell the story twice. The first time give the sweeping overview, and then return to the start of the story, and fill in all the details. The second time around you’ll remember more and fill in gaps in the narrative, and the reporter will ask better questions.
  4. Respond to a reporter’s phone call or e-mail immediately, or as soon as humanly possible. Reporters love dependable, helpful people.
  5. Provide information from most to least important if time is irrelevant to the topic.
  6. Allow the reporter to lead the interview if he or she comes with questions.
  7. Wear a company logo, and dark, solid colors on camera. Clothes with stripes or checkered patterns look bad on television.
  8. Don’t waste time. Assume you won’t have more than half an hour to speak to the reporter.
  9. Answer the obvious questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why, How and So What.
  10. Ponder how you will answer every potential question, and don’t assume there won’t be any difficult ones.
  11. Stay on topic.
  12. Offer to return as a regular guest either weekly, monthly, or as needed, once your first interview concludes.
  13. Send an e-mail or note a day after the interview talking about how you appreciated the reporter’s time, or how great the story was.
  14. Provide a clear call to action, if there is one.
  15. Ask the reporter to summarize what you said every few minutes during an interview. This typically gives you a better chance to clarify and reiterate key points.
  16. Repeat your key couple of messages, so it’s more likely to make it in the story.
  17. Refrain from saying “no comment” if you can’t answer a question. Explain why you’d prefer not to answer.
  18. Remain flexible with the reporter, even if he or she decides to take the story in a direction that isn’t ideal in your eyes.
  19. Assume anything you say will be printed or stated by the journalist. Avoid saying “off the record” unless the reporter verbally agrees to keep what you’re about to say out of the story.
  20. Work with one news outlet at a time on a story.
  21. Talk in short sentences, using simple English.
  22. Avoid slang, industry vernacular or abbreviations.
  23. Provide a business card with your name, title, and what numbers to reach you at both during and after business hours.
  24. Contact the reporter every few weeks, to remain top of mind, and find out when the publication or air date will be.
  25. Post on your website and other online outlets footage of you on television. Have someone record or videotape the segment while on television, just in case the station can’t or won’t provide you with a copy.
  26. Propose being on a local Sunday show or early morning show, which often gives you 20 minutes to highlight your business.
  27. Pre-write tweets and a blog post, so you can quickly tell friends, family, clients and supporters when the story runs without losing time.

A Few Important Don’ts

  1. Don’t cold call. Warm up the reporter by sending an e-mail first, with a paragraph spelling out the bottom line of the story idea, then follow up with a call a few hours or a day later, depending on the urgency of the story.
  2. If you must cold call due to time constraints, never call after 3 p.m.
  3. Don’t neglect your headline. Without a good one, you’re dead.
  4. Don’t try to get an editor. Their mentality is often to help reporters eliminate mediocre story ideas. Reach out for reporters instead – they’re looking for material.
  5. Don’t show up in the newsroom unannounced.
  6. Don’t mail information in unsolicited.

The list might seem insanely a bit daunting. But if all you do is take one step in each category (and respect all of the Don’ts), you’re likely to gain more coverage than any of your competitors. The bottom line is: reach out, be helpful, and get busy.

I’ll hang out in the comments section to help out anyone who has questions. But quite frankly, I’d rather see you out there, connecting with reporters, selling stories about you and your fantastic business successes.

The publicity is there for the taking. All you have to do is ask.

About the Author: Patrick Garmoe serves as social media strategist for PureDriven, a Minnesota digital marketing agency that specializes in helping businesses spread great ideas both online and offline, and offers a free, four-part online seminar to teach you how to garner online and offline attention for your business. He can be reached on Twitter @Garmoe.

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Comments

  1. Patrick:

    Excellent. I have a check list of 109 ways I can try. At least one should succeed for me.

    They once asked Thomas Edison about this 10,000 failures in creating a light bulb. He said he didn’t fail 10,000 times but found 10,000 ways not to create a light bulb.

    Randy

    • Hi Randy. Yeah, one of these ideas and most likely a bunch of them should help you gain media attention. Thanks for the comment!

    • Of all the ideas, the concepts of building a relationship before you pitch is often lost among would be copy writers these days. Developing a sales pitch for a person or wider audience without any sort of relationships is kind of like having a salesman knock on your door with a shiny new vacuum, regardless of whether or not you happen to have one in great condition.

      Cold calls just aren’t profitable in today’s world.

    • I think Edison was just waiting for Tesla to figure it out

  2. Nice list. Clearly a topic you know very well. Thanks for sharing. Bookmarked this to favorites. Mostly because the “reporter bait” part.

  3. I just have one thing to say “Wow.” This is definitely amazing advice.

  4. That is quite a list.

    Having spent twenty years in the media – I offer this thought. People in the media are over worked and under paid. The more you can do to support them the better.

    They rarely find you. You need to go to them.

    Rosh

    • Couldn’t have said it better myself Rosh! Yes, they are overworked and underpaid – far worse than even teachers. And often if you do your job right, everyone’s mad at you (because you don’t completely buy their arguments) except the average reader who isn’t going to pick up the phone and call you to thank you.

      Especially these days reporters are overworked, which means businesses who try even a little bit are almost guaranteed to get media attention.

      I for example was laid off from the newsroom, and never replaced.

      • I didn’t know being a reporter was this tough. But it may also depend on the country you live in?

        Working on a blog may be more satisfactory because you get far more positive feedback. No direct money but compliments is still a nice way to go. And you have a lot of interaction. Probably you get some indirect sales from it. I assume you might have written books or such alike.

        Anyway, thanks for the list, your time and your work :)

        Sk.

        • Thanks for the note SK.

          You’re right on all counts. Blogging is more satisfying, because you do hear more positive comments. In my decade as a journalist I never got 1/10th the response to an article as I did to this post. And while as you say the money is not in blogging itself, it’s really a lead generator that grows over time, if it’s successful.

          Pay for reporters does vary depending on the country, but I don’t believe they’re paid particularly well anywhere. Most journalists feel like they get paid other ways – by getting a front seat on life, the adrenalin rush, impacting their communities, etc.

          Thanks,
          Patrick

  5. “Wow” is right! I guess this is why you’re the expert. Thanks for putting it all together in an easy to follow format. Next up implementation!

    • Thanks @Shevonne.
      @ANN definitely wish you the best as you try to implement this. Please let me know if I can be of help in your quest. Once you actually start implementing anything, that’s when follow up questions arise.

  6. Fantastic list, Patrick! I’ve been in the “public information” biz for many years and I’ve never seen anything as useful as this. I especially like that you also included some important Don’ts. Well done — thank you so much for providing this for us!

    • Thanks Bonnie. Nothing I wrote here is all that amazing to those in the PR/Media biz, but I know it’s Greek to many people trying to gain a little ink. There didn’t seem to be one list like this that I could find, so I decided to write it.

      I would recommend http://prinyourpajamas.com/ for anyone who wants to delve more deeply into specifically this issue. I sometimes guest post there.

    • Hey Bonnie, it’s been ages – great to see you on Copyblogger. :)

  7. Patrick, this is an awesomely, insanely useful post that’s the equivalent of a quick education in PR. As someone who runs campaigns for new book launches, this contains enough wisdom on working with the press that you might not need another article, book or blog post, if you really pay attention to the ideas here. Thanks!

    • Wow Joel. I can’t tell you how good it makes me feel to hear that, although there are plenty of excellent books on PR that would help. I love everything Katie Delahaye Paine writes. But everyone’s busy, so my hope was to create a cheat sheet of sorts, for business owner who like to spend their time on … well, their businesses, not learning how to be pr pros!

      Thanks again. I’ll be hanging a print out of your comment and many others on my wall soon.

  8. Really great list and resource – thank you! Will be bookmarking for sure. :)

  9. Intimidating?

    Not for me. The fact that I’m one of those anal “detail” people made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside knowing my butt is gonna be well covered with this deep list.

    Thanks Patrick! I appreciate you for making this abundance of info on a topic I’m nowhere near a pro at available here and making it so easy to breeze through.

    • @Danny, thanks!
      @Lewis Glad to hear it fits your “anal” nature! Pleased to hear it comes across as breezy. I was hoping people came away with that notion!

  10. Great article! I would like to print it out, why is there no ‘Print Friendly’ link?

    • @Sal – Take the URL and paste it into the Print Friendly site. Or download Readability to your computer.

      @Patrick – WOW!, now this is a list. At least 10 things have got to work for everyone! Thank you for compiling all this together in one place, you rock!

      Thanks again – Theresa

    • Sal, we just added the “print friendly” function to the site. The button is beneath the author bio on the right side.

  11. Patrick this is sensational! Thank you for sharing. As a Christian faith coach to Christian celebs, will I have the same leverage as mainstream bus owners?

    • I would think you could leverage point #72 — it’s an interesting and unusual angle that I would imagine would be something reporters would find story-worthy.

    • @Dr. Deanea Yes, #72 would be something to focus on. The more niche you are, the better actually. So it’s easier because having a religious tie in already is one unique factor that sets you apart, and that’s a critical part of garnering media attention. If Business A and Business B offer about the same service or product, the one that gets profiled in the news is the business that has a unique angel to sell.

      If a reporter does the story on Business B, and then gets a phone call from Business A saying “Why don’t you do a story on our business?” the reporter defends himself or herself by saying why precisely he or she chose Business B. That’s the hook, that’s what you have to sell, that’s the unique selling proposition.

      Since you’re a Christian Coach, be sure to check out the site 48 Days.com, it’s a community for Christian Coaches. I think you’d find real value there, and other tips along these lines unique to that niche.

      • Thank you Patrick. Wonderful! I didn’t consider it as my USP. And yes, I am a part of the 48Days.com community. Again, thank you for sharing. These 109 tips are phenomenal.

  12. Danny,
    Honestly, this was one of the most informative articles I’ve ever read. Well, 1/2 read! I have to print it out and read it and highlight all the tips I plan to put into practice!
    Thank you.

  13. Patrick,

    This post is pure gold. The title should be changed to “109 Gold Nuggets to Make Your Business Irresistible to the Media.” Well, maybe the current title is better, but I like the sentiment of this one.

    I really like point 56 about holding a fundraising drive. Recently I was thinking about how a local coffee shop could get some publicity. My thought was for the shop to run a fundraiser where for the month of June, 10% of profits would be given to a certain charity. This seems like the kind of thing that a local newspaper would cover. I would need to crunch the numbers, but this could end up costing less than an advertising campaign and grab more attention.

    What do you think?

    Again, great post. Thanks!

    • Relief for Japan would be an obvious choice for me, top of mind & the help is certainly needed.

      • That’s a great point. Doing something timely like that would definitely draw attention. Not to mention that it’s greatly needed.

        • First, thanks for the accolades Joseph!

          I agree with Sonia’s suggestion. Tying it to an event in the news like the earthquake should help. That might get you into a “News around town” column. Remember that even if you don’t receive a full blown story, there are other places in a newspaper to be noticed, such as Good News sections etc.

          I doubt the 10 percent off fundraising idea by itself would sell, because so many small businesses do it. Whenever a lot of people do anything, it’s difficult to sell it as a story. A similar but more effective idea would be taking one day and giving every dime away for an entire day, because that’s daring. That’s different. That might put you out of business, but that’s why I’m not your accountant.

          You get the idea. Hop on a topic bigger than yourself, or be sure that what you’re doing is different than everyone else. That’s what would prompt attention. I’m just afraid 10 percent proceeds over a month won’t cause any media outlet to stand up and take notice.

          • Ahh, that’s a good point. It would have to be something newsworthy. All of the proceeds for one day would be more exciting. Also, a local charity could be more newsworthy. If the proceeds were going toward a local charity or event, that could get picked up by a paper before a national charity drive could.

            Thanks again for the post. I’m saving it for later use. :)

  14. I’d add a couple tips:

    If you’re pitching a trend, offer a few other sources that prove it isn’t just your company succeeding at this new thing. Reporters will jump on this prepackaged sourcing.

    Try to discover whether you’re in the same time zone as the reporter before you pick up the phone to call. We’ve set all our phones not to ring when we go to bed because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called at 5 or 6 am my time at my home office by people on the east coast who didn’t bother to run my area code through Google and find out where I am.

    Finally, just realize that if you’re hitting someone from any major market, they are getting 50-100 pitches a week. Make yours stand out!

    And know that if you ding me more than three times in a week to ask me if I read it, I’m going to ask you to take me off your list and never pitch me again. If I’m interested, I will call you!

    • Great points Carol! Especially the first one. The more examples you can bring to the table of a trend, the better. This shows it’s not just you, and it saves the reporter time trying to have to either prove or disprove your theory.

      While this might also mean you have to share the attention with competitors, some attention is better than none.

  15. I really enjoyed to read about online business structure to improve our business to the online media world. It will be the best way to reach the people and it might be covered all the way but it may miss something otherwise it is wonderful post. Thanks

  16. Hi Patrick – what a fantastic list. What I love about it is that it is in a logical and chronological order that gives everyone a very clear roadmap to follow.

    I think for those who are doing their own PR, #100 is a great reminder. You have to keep in touch with the reporter, you have to keep trying. When they say “no”, it’s just no for right now. Your next story idea may be the one they are looking for at that exact time. By staying top of mind, when they decide to do a story relevant to your business or industry – the reporter will remember you as a source and perhaps call YOU for the story. It happens more often than people think.

    Thanks for the shoutout about my blog, can’t wait for your next guest post there :-)

    • Thanks Elena, yes, you give excellent PR advice for all small businesses who want to delve into this more deeply. And yes, people shouldn’t take it so personally when a reporter doesn’t jump on a story. I can practically guarantee if you stay in touch long enough with a reporter, they are bound to do a story on your business.

      And yes, you’re definitely on my guest posting list! :-)

  17. Truly a great tool Patrick. I must confess that personally I have a difficult time accepting this “courtship” with the media based on how they cover the real estate industry. After a while it becomes both tiresome and boring to read the same criticism of our industry on a regular basis. Believe me, I have pretty thick skin and I’ll take any well founded criticism any time.

    What I find particularly annoying though is to see that in many cases the goal of the journalist is basically to increase readership, rather than presenting a more balanced picture about the subject.
    Recently I read that even lawyers ratings have gone up in the last few years. At least a segment of the public acknowledges that “some” lawyers are people of integrity and provide a valuable and irreplaceable service to the public. The same cannot be said about real estate agents.

    So many of those journalists seem to rejoice in tarnishing our image, in spite of increased professionalism because of tougher and tougher licensing requirements.

    Therefore, as much as I see great value on the list you provided us, I will continue to keep my distance from the media. Perhaps there will come a day when a handful of less cynical journalists will begin telling the public about those professional and ethical real estate agents who dedicate such long hours to serving the housing needs of the public.
    My doors are wide open.

    was to simply

    • Hello John,
      I know how you feel, having been on both sides of the fence, though never as a Realtor. I won’t bother getting into a discussion here of reporters wanting to make Realtors look bad,except to say I’ve never met a reporter who I felt spun a story in the real estate industry to get more readers. It’s just that a reporter’s job is to provide useful information to the public. But what is considered “useful” and “accurate” is very much in the mind of the individual Realtor or reporter. One person’s cozy house is another person’s tiny house, for example. I wish journalists in the U.S. would have been tougher on the sub prime mortgage industry for example. Perhaps it would have done some good. But I digress.

      I think you’re doing a great job however, speaking directly to your potential clients through your blog, making sure your even handed explanation is getting out there. I work with Realtors on blogging, and you have a great one, based on my brief review of it just now.

      Personally I’ve noticed that when it comes to businesses, they like to complain outside of earshot of reporters about stories, instead of pitching reporters on good news. For example, maybe six months ago I heard a Realtor in a networking group rip apart a local story on the housing market. He made excellent points. He made the kind of argument that would have made a great story, featuring his business. But instead of those points being made in an article, they never drifted beyond our little business networking group.

      So I’d encourage you to continue blogging, and go the route of pointing out your blog to a reporter whose stories you’ve felt are insightful and nuanced. If the two of you strike up a friendly relationship, perhaps that can build into a positive story about the industry.

      I think many people in life seem scary and mean, but once you take the time to converse one on one with them, you’ll find common ground. At least, that’s been my experience.

      • Hi Patrick – Your heart is a lot bigger than mine and I admire you for it. Let’s just say that as I get older I see less of a need to cozy up to the media. Call me a contrarian, that’s fine with me. Papers are bleeding red ink all over the world and I strongly believe that part of it is because of an increasingly better informed public who generally distrust reporters. I have said enough, so I’ll go back and try to spread my message directly to those who might be interested learning from someone who is “in the know”, rather than from a reporter who can only write about what others have done and won’t take the time to present a more accurate picture.

  18. Awesome list. I’ve bookmarked it for my business idea :) Cannot thank you enough, you made my day!

  19. Patrick, wow this is a great list. Packed with ton’s of great information to always go back to and read. I agree it’s very important to build a relationship before doing the pitch. I believe it’s important to build a relationship to gain trust and credibility. When the person trusts you it’s easier for them to say yes and go with what you want.

  20. Patrick, this post is WONDERFUL! Being a newbie to the PR world, these tips are extremely helpful, especially coming from the source itself (a journalist)! I appreciate you taking the time to share this info. I’m printing out a copy of this list and posting it on my wall for future reference :)

  21. A long and great article. Well it took 7 of my precious minutes to read the article but the things I have learned from these tips are worth way more than that. Patrick, great article.

  22. First of all, this is great. Bloggers and small businesses need this kind of advice.

    So here’s a question for you. The relationship building you’re suggesting isn’t surprising, though it is surprisingly hard when you’re trying to focus your energies on the biggest ROIs. Is there a priority system that bloggers and businesses should be working on? That is, I probably don’t have the resources to build relationships with every media source, so how do I determine where my time is best spent, given that whatever I choose is a long term investment?

    Second, do you think becoming a freelance writer helps with the relationship building? I hear authors all the time bemoan how hard it is to get bloggers to pitch their books. But I see bloggers pitching books all the time, they just happen to be other bloggers! Just wondering if being one of “them” helps to shorten that relationship building.

    Thanks for a wonderful post, Patrick!

    • Thanks Jen,

      To address the first question:

      It depends what the subject matter is, but I recommend trying for newspapers with daily circulations of 200,000 or fewer. So if you’re in a big city like Minneapolis, that could eliminate the major metros and big TV stations. But there are a variety of smaller publications you can shoot for. To make it simpler, if you live in a city/region with around 150,000 people, there’s a good chance the media from the local newspaper and TV stations are small enough that they’ll listen to your pitch and you’ll get some coverage, so long as your news hook is strong. Bigger than that and they’re pitched so often that it can be much harder (but certainly not impossible) to get their attention.

      I’d also argue that a better method is to target more niche publications and local ones. While the audience is smaller, it’s typically an audience far more interested in what you’re saying, because it impacts them more intently.

      So the ROI is much better.

      You can read a wonderful post on that subject here as well.
      http://justincaseyouwerewondering.com/2011/03/21/why-it-doesnt-always-make-sense-to-go-after-a-listers/

      If you get traction at the level I mention above, then pitch to bigger outlets. If not, move smaller.
      But don’t mistake big ROI with a big readership. The more general the circulation, the fewer people who subscribe will want to exactly read the story about you.

      Oh, and I’d always recommend focusing first on print publications and blogs, because you can include a good call to action. TV works better if you’re just looking for brand recognition, but not necessarily more business. TV is often just too fleeting for someone to remember your name or your business name. I for example get far more click throughs to our blog via social media, blogging, and click throughs, than I ever did with TV. But more people have “heard about us” because we do a tech segment periodically.

      So that’s how I would prioritize your time.

      If you mean blogging will help you get other bloggers to pitch your book, I think that would help, but I wouldn’t blog or do freelance writing purely to build relationships. If you have a book or business though, I would recommend blogging for a variety of reasons, but not purely to build relationships with the media.

      I reviewed a book from an author recently on my blog, mainly because I discovered his blog first, and then saw him advertising his book. I felt the book would be a good fit for my audience, so I reviewed it. If he didn’t have the blog, I guarantee I wouldn’t have heard of the book.

      I hope that helps. If I misinterpreted your question though, clarify it for me, and I’ll respond again.

  23. I’m all over #12 and already signed up. Thanks for the tips!

  24. I need a “love” button for this post!!!! Thank you for taking the time to post such great information. :)

  25. Who knew that mild-mannered fella sitting on the beach in Jamaica was chock full of such an abundance of relevant information. Great list post, Patrick. Say hi to Marie and keep up the great work. Ya mon.

  26. Patrick Thanks for this information. I LOVE it when Copyblogger talks to business owners! Your writing is clear, informative and actionable- spot on. So much potential exists for business owners and copy writers to work together.la la la…. Any chance you can post again to explain the complex relationship between the website (homebase) and articles – newsletters – and blogs.. It’s a complex etiquette when you’re a business owner and I need to “GET It” copyblogger style and nice and clear Patrick style. Cheers xS

    • Hmmm, I’ll have to ponder that a bit more Siita. You mean the value and interplay of a website vs. newslettters vs. blog? Or am I reading this wrong? Really appreciate the compliments!

      • Yes I might just need .. 109 ways a small business owner can put an irresistible blog together without having to hire the Murdoch empire to do it for them…

        - A website might showcase and sell a ‘niche product’ ..so that functions as your business base and ticks along quite nicely. You post helpful articles on it that solve readers burning problems.. running off that and delivered as light information and inspiration to your ‘tribe’ is a newsletter ..and in another orbit slightly further afield is a blog..That’s probably where I’m stuck.. I can see how easy it is to define topics covered and not covered when it’s an information site like copy writing..and content marketing but what about the business owners guide to creating irresistible blogs..’without drinking their own Kool aid’ as BC.says.

        • I see where you’re coming form Siita. That is a tough topic. I struggle with that myself on our company blog. Many business blogs have very few comments and retweets. So it can be challenging to gauge success. Too often all bloggers are lumped together, whether you write about copywriting, celebrities, or industrial cleaning products.

          But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not performing well. The goal often is simply to be a lead generator. So if it ends up leading to new leads and sales, it’s a success. I think that goal is more attainable for the average business than becoming popular, like blogs in key niches.

          But blogging I’ve come to believe is a more formidable challenge for businesses than many people assume it will be starting out. So I definitely understand what you’re saying about not wanting to have to hire the Murdoch empire.

          I’ll think about a post like that. In the meantime let’s stay in touch. When I’m writing it I’ll bounce some ideas off you!

  27. Patrick, I, like everyone, am in awe of this list. I will pass it along to Dr. Wirth as well.

  28. Brilliantly useful encapsulation of Best Practice for Media Relations in the 21st Century!

  29. I like #19. When I wrote for BusinessWeek, we rarely had enough inside experts-that may be, for example, a technologist in a specialty area, a lab researcher…someone with real, deep knowledge. Some agencies would provide us contact books with experts listed by specialties. But don’t overwhelm a reporter–they’re already drowning in info.

    #5 invite a reporter to coffee–good idea but doubt anyone, sadly, has the luxury of time anymore.
    Reporters always need good data/stats and case studies–the more dramatic, the better (ex: David and Goliath story that pits emerging new player against industry giant). Trends are always good–particularly year end, looking into the next year.

    #67- Bragging works best if you’ve been featured by industry pubs or local media, and then pitching the big guys-you’re road tested. And of course it needs to be done professionally, highlighting your media appearances vs really boasting.

    Above all, READ their blogs or pubs and get insider their heads…you need to be able to talk knowledgeably.

    Re local TV- pitch for weekend news shows; producers are usually trying to fill holes-and 20 min in awfully long; when I was doing TV gigs, our segments were usually 3 or 4 min.

    I’m writing a related post that will get into alternative ways of pitching the “new media” this week, and will be linking back to this piece; great list.

    • Hello Mark. Great comments. I think #5 also differs a lot depending on the reporter. Someone from the Wall Street Journal might not take the time. But the editor of a small daily in southern Minnesota might. And couldn’t agree more with the rest of it.

      Is your post running here? If not, I’ll have to check out your blog when it runs. Thanks for the compliment!

      • Agree w/ you on that-and I’m all for real human-to-human contact to help break the ice.

        My post will be running on the ION blog (www.ioncorporation.com/blog) and maybe on MarketingProfs…haven’t pitched it yet.

        Good stuff…

  30. Wow. Great advice… and LOTS of it. It’s going to take me a while to get through all of it, but the one that caught my eye right off the bat was #9: Write a positive blog post on your blog highlighting a story of theirs, and e-mail them the link.

    That particular strategy has been super successful for me in the past and I can personally attest to it! It’s never failed me. Never.

    Now then, back to reading all this. (Thanks for sharing!)

    • Great to hear a success story Dave!

      Honest and thoughtful praise is so often missing in our me-first culture. When it is legit, it goes a long way toward building a relationship.

      Thanks for the compliment.

      Patrick

  31. This is outstanding! Very helpful. I wish I’d had this a few years ago when I was marketing my first published book. The process of building the relationship before pitching is genius. I’m printing this one for my files. Thanks!

  32. The networking tips are great. It’s crucial to warm up people before you exchange value with each other. Nowadays with social media it’s much easier to find the right people. In the end, you have to remember that doing business is dealing with people. So it’s worthwhile spending time with the right people….just make sure you go after the right people.

    • Thanks AE! Great comments! I think in real life people intrinsically understand the need to build relationships. You don’t get married on the first date (at least, most people don’t.) Users who want attention need to be attentive, and helpful first. More than any technique, I hope readers take that away from my post. Of course, building those bridges requires time and energy, something most people don’t have plenty of. Hopefully this list will give them a road map to be more effective with the time they do have.

  33. Leanne Pawluk :

    Patrick:

    I am a new addition to Cross Boarder Communications and hope to meet you one day soon. I have been in the PR game since 1992 and this is by far the most articulate and concise mini-guide I’ve ever read. Congratulations.

    Leanne

  34. I like that you emphasize that you have to build a relationship with the reporter gradually, over time. A lot of people wait until the last minute, and then they want everything to happen “now”. There’s a saying that basically states that you have to build a well before you get thirsty. If media coverage is something that you think you may want at some point down the line, start making connections now, before you need them.

    • Thanks Marelisa,
      I know I struggle to build relationships before I need them, but you’re right in saying it is SO critical when pitching reporters, or anyone really. It shows you don’t just care about your story. You care about them.

      Unfortunately I think most of us don’t value the months and years we have when it comes to building relationships. We tend to try to do everything in a rush. The older I get, the more I see that time is almost more valuable than money in getting things done.

  35. Good stuff! Thank you for sharing. Yes, it’s long winded, but needed by many and the way I live is: The more you give, the more you’ll receive. And….the wise saying is true! So I’ve discovered and so have many others. Have a good night!

  36. Thanks for the excellent resource.

  37. wow this is a great list.and great infomation.l have bookmarked it for my business log idea.

  38. Patrick! As a longtime journalist I want to say great list.

    I do disagree with a few points — but in general — you have really given people a running start. depending on the media outlet — I don’t think cold calling is out of the question — IF YOU HAVE SOMETHING THAT IS PARTICULARLY RELEVANT TO BREAKING NEWS. So, for instance, if you are an addiction counselor or deal with bipolar disorders and want some press — it would be good to offer your expertise for a live interview the day Charlie Sheen is making headlines.

    For TV in particular, I’m not sure about the talking slowly suggestion. As long as what you are saying can be understood – the tv reporter is looking for a strong soundbyte and if you deliver it too slowly it may not make air.

    The point, I think, is that you’ve offered up some really great stuff, much of which could be expanded upon. I’m actually teaching a new course – thru Learnable-dot-com called ‘how to get media attention without getting murdered’. If people are looking for more – or I should say different perspective. 109 is pretty amazing!!

    Great work. Please let me know if I can ever be of help.

    Amy Parmenter
    The ParmFarm

    • Hi Amy, it’s nice to see your blog taking off! Looks like the Guest Blogging course paid off for both of us!

      Anyhow, you make a few good points. I came at it from the print perspective.
      Talking slowly is more to accomodate print reporters taking notes than TV reporters.

      And yes, breaking news always puts you at the front of the line. But even then, it’s better to have a relationship in place.

      I’ll have to check out your class. Sounds interesting.

  39. Great tips Patrick. Thanks

  40. Thanks for the GREAT tips Patrick!

    I think most businesses miss out from not using the press or not knowing how to take advantage of it. (myself included)

    Now we all have a checklist to use that will make it much easier to get better results!

    Merrill Clark

    • Thanks Merrill. I wrote the post for exactly that reason. Journalists always seem to struggle to find local businesses to profile. And businesses always seem to struggle to find journalists to do stories on them. I hope this post should help alleviate some of that.

  41. Wow. Saving this article to read over a few times. So much good stuff here!

  42. Definitely a most useful list of items. :)

    Thanks a lot for sharing!

  43. Hi Patrick,

    As an ex-reporter, I can appreciate most of your pointers here.

    However, I would expand upon the idea of publicising the “employer” aspects of the company’s business besides its products and services. If a company offers its people things like unique employee shares’ programmes, mobile workplace flexibility and family-care programmes, it is worth shouting about. Even better if the company offers incentives and schemes that go well beyond minimum labour requirements and into the realm of generosity.

    Almost any reporter would be happy to write about such employers, if only in the hope that other companies take up the challenge to offer similar programmes within their own organisations. This also lends the report that all-important “human” angle, which, as you say, reporters love.

    • Definitely great news hooks Marcus! Unfortunately too many businesses don’t pay attention to the simple, yet innovative things they’re doing in house, which reporters would love to write about.

  44. Patrick, thank you so much for this post! Great information, very thorough, you’ve given me a few good ideas. I just shared this on Twitter.

  45. Every Blogger with unique professionel content should be very careful offering his material / information to reporters. I have had the experience that the press uses the Blogger in order to get the information and that’s about it. Instead the Blogger should keep on publishing his content under a copyright. Especially when he writes about a very special topic.

    • Depends on your perspective Miriam. If you’re trying to build an audience, you want as many people as possible to hear about you, and you do that by providing as much great content as you can, and spreading it as far as you can. That’s the reason many bloggers allow people to republish their content, as long as there’s a link to the original material. This also helps with search engine optimization.

      If a reporter physically steals your content, then you should call his or her boss, because that’s simply wrong. Reporters are typically fired for plagiarism.

      If you helped the reporter by providing expertise, but he or she doesn’t specifically quote you or use your material in a story, I’d view that as you providing value to the reporter. While it’s disappointing, that’s the sort of thing that in the long run will benefit you. The reporter will remember you being helpful without receiving anything in return, and will likely interview again and quote you at some point in the future. Because people being helpful with getting anything in return is so rare in this world, that the social capital you receive in that transaction is more valuable than diamonds, in my opinion.

      It sort of falls along the lines of #18 regarding being helpful.

      Most reporters I know have a pool of experts they speak with to bounce ideas off of, who rarely are actually quoted (many prefer it that way). So if that was your situation, take heart. You’re not alone.

  46. Patrick,

    I found a link to your article via a national group. Then read the article. Then bookmarked it because I felt it was so helpful. THEN saw who wrote it.

    Thanks for the “local” information!

  47. Hi Patrick,

    In any case, the blogger has to stress his copyright. Today it is quite common for journalists surfing in blogs, collecting material and then putting together their own article. Without mentioning the original sources.

    Of course a blogger can try the media in order to get published. However, I have seen many bloggers being published, people clicked on links but harly anyone came back as a regular reader.

    It has its pros and cons.:-)

    • I agree with you about copyright, but not about the traffic; good traffic is one thing, but converting that traffic is another – if the blogger isn’t keeping much of the traffic, then maybe they need to work on conversions, right? (no pun intended with reference to the latest post on your blog)

    • Miriam, I think the difference is if a reporter gathers from you and others some boilerplate information on an industry or issue, and puts it in his or her own words without citing each person, that’s ok, in my opinion. But if the reporter gathers information only you could provide, and you have a unique take on something, or data no one else has, then yes, the reporter should without a doubt credit you. It’s similar to if I interview a doctor on how knee injury replacements generally work, vs. if I interview the doctor on a unique procedure he or she developed.

      In the first example I wouldn’t necessarily feel like I had to credit the doctors I spoke with. In the second example I’d feel it wrong if I didn’t credit the doctor.

      And you are both right regarding traffic. All the traffic doesn’t mean much if it doesn’t meet your end goals. So if your goal is converting traffic into leads and then sales, it better produce leads and sales. Or if your goal is building the brand, then perhaps just getting exposed to new audiences is useful. But you both are right. Traffic for traffic’s sake is for the most part pointless. (Except to boost the ego!)

      Thanks again for the thoughtful comments.

      Patrick

  48. Patrick, I’ll join the chorus: wonderfully specific, doable steps. Great article!

    I read it because my husband and I are starting an online store in a few months with t-shirts for geeks in the arts and sciences. you know, shirts about Einstein, Max Planck, poetry, movies–the usual topics!

    What I struggle with is APPLYING publicity advice to our situation. T-shirts, new business, online store…topics that don’t seem particularly juicy. I know it’s up to me to keep puzzling over how to make news out of us. It’s hard for the introverted to jump up and down and say “Look over here, everybody!” At least we’ll be working in the virtual world, where we can jump up and down on the Internet.

    Anyway, thank you for your insider’s viewpoint and useful advice.

    Karin

    • Hi Karin. Sounds like an exciting new venture your family is launching!

      I totally think you can get some media attention business. You already talked about having one niche – T-shirts for geeks. And I am a huge introvert as well. One reason I love online marketing is because it’s a great fit for people who aren’t all that outgoing publicly.

      Some quick thoughts for getting publicity:
      Assuming you’re selling primarily online:
      Get involved in “geek-related” forums and blogs. Technorati and Alltop should help you figure out where they are. In addition, look in LinkedIn groups and Facebook pages and groups. There might even be groups devoted to interesting T-shirts, or T-shirts of Einstein, etc.

      Participate in conversations where it seems relevant. Don’t try to sell. Try instead to build relationships, particularly if they might be t-shirt resellers (which is a whole other kind of category of people online who you should try and build relationships with).

      And use Twitter to really begin following bloggers who write about design and t-shirts.

      Study Threadless, and their online marketing techniques. I don’t buy T-shirts generally, but I keep hearing about them over and over again.

      Obviously start building relationships with reporters as I outlined above.

      Look for dates (relevant to the people on your t-shirts) like Einstein’s birthday. A couple weeks before his birthday I would try to sell the idea to a local newspaper of the popularity of Einstein, with his birthday coming up. Do sales in general spike for Einstein T-shirts around his birthday? If so, that could be an angle.
      Or offer to write a Letter to the Editor titled: 10 Reasons We Created a Shirt About Einstein” to run on his birthday. Many newspapers would publish something like that. Then at the bottom it announces the name of your business and maybe website or phone number.

      Poems about nature? Try and spark something around Earth Day.

      What makes this hard is it’s not one-size-fits all. It’s somewhat a matter of trial and error. But if you keep at it, I’m convinced something will pan out for you.

      You should hook up with Becky Gourde (she posted a comment up above) they sell a line of unique t-shirts and have been very successful, with what I would guess is a very small advertising budget. I know they attend a lot of festivals etc. You could do that, and then couple that with #48.

      Also, target #76. You’d be ideal for something like this. And don’t forget if you joined the local chamber, to put in an announcement about the opening of a new business.

      Feel free to let me know if I can help further!

      And thanks again for the accolades!

      • Patrick, I so appreciate the long, thoughtful answer. THANK YOU!

        I will be following up on these ideas. I appreciate your generosity in this response!

        Karin

  49. Wow long list (as soon as i started I couldnt stop), but some very good points. I’ll be sure to keep these in mind in the future. Cheers.

  50. Patrick: Fantastic info! Now, if just 5% of the readers of this post begin to implement some of it – I would say you really made a difference. Unfortunately, most people get excited about something they hear, read, see or bookmark and never doing anything more with their new-found info.

    After attending many “marketing of photography” seminars over the years, I created to-do lists of things I wanted to accomplish from what I learned at the seminar. As soon as I got home, I immediately began attacking the list and checking off what I completed. Otherwise, the notes I took and the excitement I experienced at the seminar faded away.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

    Blessings,

    Mark Madere
    SpectraLight Photography

    • Hi Mark,

      Yes, my sincere hope is that people do apply what they learned here. As in life, it’s not just the learning that matters, but the execution. The funny thing is, even in paid programs it seems like only a tiny fraction of those who paid to be in the courses actually are active in the program and implement. But perhaps that’s just my perception.

  51. My area recently experienced severe flooding. I sent out a news release with some tips on how to care for flood damaged photos. At the end of the news release was a link to a free report on my web site with additional tips. One of the local papers used it word-for-word.

  52. You’re a natural. Thanks to posts like yours, I’m slowly getting there. –puci

  53. Love these ideas. I’m also rather shy about self promotion, but love giving an opinion! I have a little furniture painting company and completely see the value in your tips. I just signed up with HARO and can’t wait to see what happens.
    Thanks-
    Sari

    • Thanks Sari. I’m very introverted as well, although I’m sure that doesn’t come across in this post. That’s really the beauty of much of this advice. Instead of having to sell yourself, you’re providing relevant information for your audience. And you sell yourself as a byproduct of that. See Mark Madere’s post slightly above yours, for a great, practical way he did that with his expertise, and a local news event.

      This post is also an example of that. I have our sales guys working on a couple leads that grew out of me simply providing educational information they found valuable. That’s why I love the Internet so much. Selling is a natural outgrowth of helping people solve problems.

  54. awesome and Irresistible post..thanks a million

  55. Patrick – wow, what a thorough list of amazing suggestions!

    As a host of two business podcasts, I’m always looking out for potential guests and these suggestions would certainly get my attention. In fact, your article inspired me to pen my own list of do’s and do not’s.

    Some of the things people have done to get my attention is anything but professional. Yes, they got my attention – for the wrong reasons and I’ve probably just put their name on the ‘do not contact’ list.

    Thanks again!

    • Thanks for the feedback Annemarie Cross. I think people are always looking for shortcuts. But it just comes down to working hard over time to build relationships.

  56. Patrick, I like to congratulate you for this awesome content. I already copy the content and print this for my team. I like to state that I agree with every point you mentioned. So much practical but true. Thanks again for your contribution.

    - San

  57. I love this list- thanks for the bullet format too- it’s readable and digestible :] I have several brands I am in charge of and have a question on how to navigate relationships in this instance. Would it be better to approach the reporter via my personal name, and then later pitch stories for various other brands I represent? Or to segment reporters and only approach them as a representative of A (as in, one) brand?
    For instance, I’d like to develop relationships with reporters for our local weekly paper. This resource would be great not only for a couple of side biz’s my partner and I manage, but also for my 9-5 job. Better to kill 2 birds with 1 stone, or have targeted focus?

    • Hi Sara, thanks for the comment. I’d probably need more background on your situation to give you detailed advice. But in general I advise being a person first, not trying to represent yourself differently to different people. If you visit two different reporters at the same newspaper for example, they’re going to talk with each other, and either get confused or think it odd that you present yourself as representing two different organizations. But depending on the situation it’s fine to primarily talk about one brand. “I represent several brands, but I’m calling you today to discuss…”

      It sounds like you might be in a small town, or working with local reporters, so just being open about your portfolio of clients is the best approach (assuming you don’t have some sort of agreement with your client to keep your connection with them secret.)

      That said, some corporations who hire PR teams will give them a company e-mail and number etc., so it appears they are part of the company. Let me know if I can help further.

      Thanks,
      Patrick

  58. great tips. would add one though. send a handwritten thank you note to whoever
    you contacted, whether they highlighted you or not. it sets you apart
    nowadays. thanks!

    chad