I hear from entrepreneurs all the time who say they can’t get a reporter to respond to them. They say they reached out, left a message or sent an email to a reporter or a producer and did not get a response. At all. They tell me they are frustrated and have given up.
So I ask them, “How many times did you contact them?”
“Once,” they reply.
Reporters get a LOT of email. A lot. And sometimes breaking news situations demand attention so your email gets pushed further down in the inbox.
The good news is, relevant stories are always in demand. And reporters are always looking for them, so don’t give up.
How do you know if you pass the test?
Honestly, you won’t know unless you get a return call.
Until then, take advantage of the work you had to do before you sent your pitch to a reporter.
What kind of story will interest a reporter?
What kind of story will interest a reporter? I’m going to turn that question around. It depends on what kind of business you run.
What’s your story?
First, figure out what message you are trying to share.
Is it a product launch, the expansion (or the reduction) of one of your branches, are you hosting a fundraiser, offering a new service, hiring hundreds of new people?
Figure out where your message fits in best. It may mean scanning your local stations, opening up the newspaper (or finding it online), listening to the radio. That’s the best way to determine where your story will fit best. Then choose the television show, the magazine, or the podcast where your target market is most likely to listen. Some business stories are well-suited for the nightly news, others may be better for the community section of the newspaper. Take a look at what’s running currently and see how your idea stacks up.
Why is it important?
What makes your announcement special? Are you creating a new kind of shampoo, expanding into a new location or changing up your company hours, and if so, why?
The reporter will want to know why the audience will find value in what you’re sharing, and why it’s worthy of a story or whether you should be paying a visit to the sales department to buy a commercial.
Why is it important RIGHT NOW?
You may have determined your story idea is a valid one with great viewer/reader benefit, but what elevates it to a story that should be done today, instead of an uncertain time at some point in the future?
It’s making sure you are keeping an eye on the calendar when you pitch your story.
Got a great idea about saving money on school supplies? Prime time is August, any other time of the year it won’t get top priority.
Is it tax time and you are seeing clients, one after another, come in with the same missed deductions? It may be an extremely busy time, but share that information before the tax deadline, or else it becomes a story that no one will hear–until next year.
Great ideas, but still no response?
So, you have done the work, put together the pitch and sent it. Then crickets.
You can use this time to maximize your efforts. Here’s what I mean.
These days, companies have the power to create their own media hub–through their website, blogs, YouTube, or podcasts.
This is where you have the opportunity to take the work you have already done and create posts for your blog and for social media using the topics you have already researched. You have done the work so you know it’s relevant to your brand and important to your audience.
As long as you’re solving a problem your customers have, and it’s compelling, your tribe will listen.
And while you’re creating the story for your own channels, if you realize the story idea doesn’t work, then you can find another angle, circle back with the reporter to include that new information…and continue from there.
Either way, you are using that valuable information on your business to ultimately produce something your customers will value.