Here are some of the 'dos and don'ts' of pitching your press release to a journalist.
Getting coverage for your story is a process. If you stick with it and follow the process, you will get results. I promise.
DO prepare a script for your phone call. This means you can be clear and concise and not panicked into waffling or getting tied in knots.
DON'T write a whole new press release for your pitch. The press release is the story so stick with it and trust it. Explain the story in less than 20 seconds. Stick to the headline and first paragraph.
DO rehearse the script with a colleague. This will tell you where you need to tighten things or explain something more clearly. You'll know when you lose the person or where you stumble.
DON'T be afraid to change it. Once you have used the script a couple of times you will know what resonates with the journalist. You may want to tweak the pitch or take a new angle following feedback. If it's not working, you'll know and it's fine to change tack.
DO start by introducing yourself:
"This is YOUR NAME from COMPANY NAME - we have a news story out today. Do you have a couple of minutes?"
DO ask if they have a couple of minutes. If they say yes, then you can relax and go ahead with your call. This is your chance to get them interested in the story. You have permission to pitch.
DO call early. You should get the bulk of your calls done starting at 9am. Try to email the press release out as early as possible - from 7am - so you get on the news schedule early. News conference tends to be at 10 or 11 so you want to get in ahead of the other stories.
DO end your pitch with a call to action.
Would you like to interview the company?
Would you like images to go with the story?
Do you have more questions for the company?
Would you like more information?
What do you think of the story, is it one you can use?
DO send over the press release in the body of an email - do not send as an attachment. No journalist will ever click through. They are busy busy busy. Even better – use PingGo to send with a personal message. You will see when the journalist opens your press release and be able to message them in real time.
DO follow up by telephone in the afternoon between 2 and 4. Did you get the press release? Can you use it? When will you publish? Do you have any questions? Would you like photography?
DON'T call journalists after 4 - they will be on deadline and will not welcome a call from you!
DO consider offering the story as an exclusive to your most important media outlet first. Do not send it anywhere else until they have had time to use it.
DON'T send to multiple addresses or CC loads of journalists in. Each journalist wants to feel they are the only one with the story.
DO keep following up over the coming days. Some media outlets take longer than others to publish a story. The trade press will often publish a many days after it first appeared in the national news. The followup is where you really start to see your results rack up. By following up with a journalist you are bringing the story back to the top of the pile and also allowing them to ask for more information or suggest a different opportunity. Sometimes, the press release will not work for them as a news story but they may want expert comment from an industry spokesperson, or an article on a related topic.
Calling the press is a tough job. It can seem like a minefield but PingGo will keep you right. We've got your back, any questions, just get in touch. There is nothing we haven't faced ourselves when pitching the press. There is always a solution, sometimes just needs to be talked through.