It sounds harsh, but it's true: it doesn't take much for journalists to get annoyed at the publicists who pitch them.
And the flacks are the ones who are actually supposed to know what they're doing! If you're a small business owner handling your own PR, it can be even easier to make mistakes or take the wrong approach when trying to get the word out to reporters and editors about your events, products, features or services.
Here are five tips that will increase your chances of getting coverage:
1. Email first
Journalists are busy people and spend most of their days multi-tasking, working the phones, or popping in and out of the office for meetings and assignments. Most of them probably don't have time to spare taking a random pitch call, and besides, they'll just ask you to shoot them an email anyway. When you do, be sure to include a short personal note in addition to whatever press release you're sending so they feel as if they're dealing with a real-live human being and not just a PR-bot. If you don't hear back right away, give it some time and follow up with a phone call just making sure they've received the information.
2. Don't over-pitch
If you've sent someone the same pitch a few times and haven't heard back, chances are they are not interested. So play it cool and don't be pushy, because that will just annoy them, and you'll find yourself going into your next pitch with an instant handicap.
3. Do your homework
If you are trying to pitch coverage to a specific editor or reporter, make sure you know what sorts of topics they generally cover and what topics they've covered recently. Don't pitch a reporter on something if it's totally off their beat. Likewise, if the nightlife reporter just did a big feature about new bars, it's probably not the right time to tell him all about your new bar. Let it simmer and wait until there is a better peg to base a story on.
4. Know the publication and find the right angle
It's important to know the tone and scope of the particular publication you are pitching. Because if you pitch them a story that's totally off-base from the types of things they regularly cover, they are going to feel like you're wasting their time. That said, sometimes it's all about the angle. For instance, a feature about a hot young fashion designer whose clothes are for sale in your boutique can probably be spun into a great business story.
5. Don't give up
Even if you don't seem to be having any luck getting coverage, keep sending your press releases and pitches. Truth be told, if you're friendly and persistent enough with a particular editor or reporter, they'll probably eventually decide to write something. It might be out of pity, or it might just be to get you off their back, but as the saying goes, any press is good press, right?