Not every piece of news you come up with will be suitable for every news medium, and in many cases, the success of your pitch to media will be dependent on whether the story suits the type of outlet you are pitching it to.
Obviously, it goes without saying that your story needs to be relevant to the journalist, publication or section you pitch it to. This goes for location and for area of interest.
For example, a news story about a new store opening in Chicago won’t be immediately relevant to a newspaper in California. And it makes sense that you would not pitch it to a Californian newspaper anyway, because the target audience (ie, potential customers for the store) will be local to it, and not living in California, therefore it makes sense you would pitch it to a local newspaper.
Similarly, if your beauty business has found a new revolutionary anti-aging solution, the motoring reporter for your local newspaper is not likely to find this story relevant and neither will its readers.
The Exception To The Rule
With most things in life, there is always going to be an exception to the rule. It may be important that you appeal to an audience interstate for your new store in Chicago, for example, to demonstrate the expanse of your brand across the country, or because you plan to open in California shortly. Here are some tips to help offer some relevance to mediums that are outside of the immediate geographical or topical area of relevance.
- If the issue is geographical, firstly examine your reasons for pitching the story to a news outlet that is a physical distance away from you or your business. You must be convinced that you have a genuine audience in these locations (and you have done some research into this – not just pulled that locality out of a hat).
- In order to pitch successfully, you must come up with an angle that is directly relevant to that locality. Perhaps you were born or grew up there, or maybe a key member in your team did? Maybe your business is going to directly solve a problem that is key to that locality and it is easily accessible to them? Do you already have a presence in that location or do you have concrete plans to set up one in the future?
- If the issue is not directly relevant from a topical basis, you will need to find a way to convert your story to the outlet’s style and/or areas of interest.For example, you would create a story around your business success (maybe make it relevant to surviving the GFC) for a business-oriented outlet or section. If the section is more human interest, you might use a case study of a happy client to pitch the story – how your product or service changed their life. If the section or outlet is information based, then create a how-to list that will be directly relevant to the audience.
- Again, make sure you have a reason for pitching to an outlet or section that is outside of your direct relevancy. Just because it is there and people access it is not a good enough reason. If the audience is not likely to buy from you or be interested, you are simply wasting your time, and that of the journalist, who has to sift through reams of useless information sent to him/her on a daily basis.
The Visual and Audio Mediums
There is nothing more exhilarating than seeing yourself on TV or achieving an interview on radio. Imagine being offered a spot on a morning TV show or talk-back radio! While seemingly obvious, it’s amazing how many people are tripped up by this next fact: TV requires visuals and radio is going to require audio.
Unless you are a well known personality already, it is very seldom you will be able to get away with a mention by the presenter without making some sort of appearance yourself, either directly or indirectly. If you are determined you do not want to appear on TV or speak on radio (and there is no other relevant senior member of your business who can), then you are wasting your time pitching to these sort of outlets.
Before approaching radio and TV, consider what news you have to share very carefully. The relevancy rules above still apply, but because we have the added audio/visual components, other factors come into play.
- Does your story have a visual aspect, or could you create one? An event or demonstration is perfect, as is an interesting interview with yourself or someone else relevant to the story that you could offer as talent.
- Are you within reasonable proximity to the program/station or a supplier to them so that they can capture footage? Can you attend an interview in a studio at the other side of the country on a specified day and time?
- Does your story translate to radio? If it is very visual, for example, a physical demonstration, it may not be appropriate, or you may need to be creative to allow it to be.
- Are you going to be available to be interviewed in a quiet place over the phone on the subject? Bear in mind that breakfast radio and news will require a very early morning wake-up call that you need to be ready for at the specified time.
- If required, are you able to attend a radio studio for the interview, with any other talent as required?
If you are serious about obtaining exposure via any news medium, the reality is that you are going to need to comply to their terms and conditions.
You will need to make yourself available at the time and location the journalist specifies, for photos and interviews, and be prepared to talk on any topic around the news angle (be prepared for curve balls!). If they ask for photos and/or additional information, provide it without hesitation or do your best to obtain it. Remember, they are working to tight deadlines and will need your full co-operation. But the rewards can be very handsome, so it’s all definitely worth the effort!