In today’s internet age, building a strong brand is crucial to any business whether it is online, operates from a home office, or a large office. Without a visible online footprint, your business might as well not exist.
One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to begin building your brand is to add public relations to your marketing strategy. However, if you are like most entrepreneurs, you probably think of PR in terms of press releases. Press releases are just one tactic used to get press as PR is much more than that.
PR involves strategic planning, corporate communications, and media relations. However, for the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on media relations (pitching) – what it is, how it is used, and the format it should follow.
You are probably now asking yourself, “What is media relations? How does it work? What is a pitch? Do I have to sell my business to the media over the telephone? Do I have to write a long essay? Where do I begin?”
Media relations means pitching your story to the media for bylined article, quote, interview, and news feature opportunities. A pitch letter tells your story in a compelling, succinct way that makes editors and journalists want to learn more about you and your business.
Before you start pitching, create an Excel spreadsheet for all of the media outlets you would like to contact. Make columns for the contact’s first name and last name, the name of the outlet, and email address. And be sure to separate your list into the following categories: blogs, local print, regional print, and national print.
After you have determined the media outlets you want to target, find out who writes what columns. Twitter.com is a great place to begin your research. Once you have decided whom you want to contact, take the time to read his or her blog or column. Pay attention to his or her style and tone, know the audience, and target each letter to match the outlet.
After you determine the media outlets you want to contact, brainstorm different angles for pitching your story. Here is a list to get you started.
- Is this the launch of your company or product?
- Are you the first to do something?
- Is your story controversial? Does it create conflict?
- Is it timely?
- Can you tie your story to a national current event?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you probably have an interesting story.
If you are like many entrepreneurs, you may get overwhelmed at the thought of writing. Don’t let that get you down. Writing a clear and concise pitch letter is easy, once you know the format.
Begin with an interesting headline. Keep it short – I prefer fix to eight words. In fact, the shorter you keep it, the better. It should hook the editor and make him or her want to continue reading.
The first paragraph should answer the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how” of your story. This paragraph only needs to be three to five sentences.
The second paragraph should elaborate on the first paragraph. If you have to detail an event or product, add a third paragraph, but just keep it short.
The last paragraph should sum up the pitch, contain your contact information (name, phone number, and email address), and ask if the reporter would be interested in receiving more information. If you are pitching a product, offer to send a sample, so he or she can see the quality and be sure to follow up within a few days of sending the initial pitch.
Creating a pitch letter can seem grueling and even intimidating, but once you understand the basic format and begin building media relationships, it will be easier to get your business press.
About the Author:
With more than seven years of branding, marketing, and public relations experience and a master’s degree in public relations and marketing from New York University, Kristin Marquet has worked with a wide variety of organizations. Her independent and innovative personality eventually led her to found Marquet Media, LLC, where she has directed the creative division with great success ever since. For assistance with developing a pitch, creating a pitch letter, and creating a media list, contact Kristin at Marquet Communications www.marquet-media.com/