A colleague just told me about a friend of his whose business was featured recently in a top-selling national newspaper with a prominent website. On the back of one article, he made £30,000 in sales.
That wasn't quite the case with me when the Daily Mail mentioned my book at the bottom of an article I wrote for them earlier this month, but I did make some book sales on the back of it. I also got invited to speak on Spain's largest English-language radio station about my book and my relationship coaching work. And one of my favourite magazines will soon feature my book in its pages. I might not make £30,000 in sales but it's all valuable PR, and you never know where it'll lead.
If getting this kind of global publicity for your business sounds appealing but feels out of reach, read on.
The truth is it's not as hard as you think to get featured in the media. You just need to know some of the tricks of the trade.
Pitching is one of those tricks, by which I mean emailing your story to journalists and editors.
Pitching is a bit of an art form, but like many art forms, it can be learned.
As I mentioned in my last blog, Why Your Press Release Is A Flop, journalists, editors and producers aren't a big fan of bland press releases but they do love a good story. More than that, they need one. In fact, they need lots of good stories to fill their pages and their programmes.
But they haven't got much time, so you need to identify the story for them and present it to them in a way that'll make them sit up and listen.
Say you're a technology company that's looking for publicity for a new app, ask yourself does your app fit into a new trend. Is it the future? Is it riding a wave? Is it meeting a growing need? Do you have a quirky story about how the idea for the app came about? Or a personal, tug-on-the-heart-strings story? Can you link your app to something in the news right now (called newsjacking), or to a celebrity (certain newspapers love celebrity stories!)?
Once you have your story, present it in an email like this:
Email headline: Story proposal: New app set to take the pain out of tax returns
(Why's that a good story? Because millions of people can relate to the pain of doing a tax return and millions of people would be interested in an app that eases that pain.)
Dear Editors (or better still, the name of a specific editor. You can find the names of editors, journalists and producers with just a little bit of detective work. Use Google, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as the mastheads of newspapers and magazines)
Next, summarise your story
For example: I'm the creator of a new app that's going to make painful tax returns a thing of the past. Include two more sentences about the app, with the most salient, eye-catching points.
Next, explain why your story is relevant to the audience of that particular newspaper, magazine, website, radio or TV station
For example: I believe this story will hit a nerve with your time-poor, financially savvy, largely self-employed readers (the more specific you can be about the relevance of your story to that media outlet's audience, the better)
Next, outline your credentials in one short line
For example: Interesting details about why you, as the creator of this app, or your company deserves to be featured. You need to nail your credibility as a source. Tell them why they should trust you. And tell them how they can get hold of you.
If you know you've got a good story and it's time sensitive, make sure you include that information in your email with a line such as: I'd love this story to be featured in your magazine (or on your radio show). However, if I haven't heard from you by xxx, I will send it elsewhere as I'm very keen to see it published.
This gives you the freedom to move on to the next publication rather than waiting for weeks for a reply. It also covers you if your first choice gets back to you after you've pitched the story elsewhere.
But don't just sit by and wait to be emailed (or ignored). Follow your email up with a phone call, provided you can get hold of a phone number. It's not always easy but persistence pays off. I recently managed to speak to a human being on Woman's Hour on the phone, after many years of sending my emails into a black hole. So do try. It's worth it.
If you can't get hold of anyone, via phone or Twitter or other means, move on to your next target media outlet. And then the next. And the next. Each time, tweak your email so it fits with the publication you're writing to. And don't forget to change the name of the media outlet and the editor in your email (an easy mistake to make, believe me!).
If you'd like some help crafting your story and your email pitches, give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org. I offer 1-2-1 coaching or you can join my next group workshop in London on October 10, Own Your Own PR. Earlybird tickets are available for a few more days. Tickets and Info here.
Otherwise, keep going. Keep trying. Your story deserves to be out there.