By L. Drew Gerber
Getting national media coverage in top print, broadcast or online media can boost your business in ways it is hard to imagine.
A single placement in a glossy national magazine is worth tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes a lot more, and not just in the value of ad space in the publication. Getting covered by national media lends a level of credibility, prestige and buzz that money cannot buy.
At Wasabi Publicity Inc., we sent out a pitch that landed author Dr. Jill Murray on Dr. Phil's TV show less than eight hours after she had signed up as a client. Within one week, that same pitch also got her coverage with CNN Weekend News, Issues with Jane Velez Mitchell, 20/20, syndicated radio shows, and several magazine articles. Sales rankings of Dr. Jill's newest book But He Never Hit Me shot up to number 16 on Amazon.com and number 23 on Barnes & Noble within hours of her Dr. Phil appearance (see the exact pitch at http://www.publicityresults.com).
Despite the enormous value of national publicity, many business owners and entrepreneurs don't understand how to go about attracting the media's attention. It's not complicated if you follow six basic steps:
Brand your message. Be crystal clear about who you are, what makes you unique and why the media should care. Assure you have a consistent message by having all your press materials ready before the press calls. A great way to do this is to get an online press kit. We created a technology called PressKit 24/7 (http://www.presskit247.com) which allows people to create press kits simply and easily without any special technical knowledge. More than 90 percent of journalists prefer to get their information from the Web. Having an online press kit is crucial to giving them the facts they need to cover you, your product, service or business.
Develop your pitch. Pretend you are in an elevator with Oprah and have 30 seconds to tell her why she should have you on her show. Your pitch should be concise, reflect your passion and stress what makes you unique. As PR professionals we have found that short pitches are often more effective for getting the media's attention than long press releases.
Find the media: The Internet provides countless ways to research media that may be interested in you. Pitchrate.com (http://www.pitchrate.com) is a free service we created to connect media and sources. You can also research media list sites such as http://www.usnpl.com. Watch your favorite show and find out the producer's name from the credits, or read your favorite newspapers and magazines to find out who covers your topic area. When you contact reporters, compliment their work to let them know you have taken the time to research.
Respond immediately. When the media calls or emails expressing interest in covering you, respond immediately. Reporters usually work on very tight deadlines, so the sources that respond fastest with the most concise and useful information are most likely to get covered.
Be prepared. Thoroughly prepare for your interview. Decide what you want to say and practice saying it in short, concise sound bites. This is where professional media coaching can be valuable, since many people have had little experience in front of cameras and microphones.
Keep it simple. Try practicing what you plan to say in front of an 8-year-old. Really! If you do this and the child can repeat back to you what you have said, you know that you're communicating in a way that's easy to understand.
So remember: brand your message, hone your pitch, find your media and give them what they need to make interviewing you interesting and rewarding. That brings us to a final piece of most important advice: Focus on what the reporter needs and how you can provide content that is useful to the audience, rather than hard-selling yourself or your product. Remember, you are getting great publicity for free, and pay it forward!
About the Author:
L. Drew Gerber is CEO of Blue Kangaroo, Inc. and the creator of PitchRate.com (http://www.PitchRate.com), a no-charge media tool that moves the best interviews to the front of the line for journalists and producers. Gerber's business practices and staffing innovations have been revered by PR Week, Good Morning America and the Christian Science Monitor. His companies handle international PR campaigns and his staff develops online press kits for authors, speakers and companies with PressKit 24/7 (http://www.PressKit247.com), a technology he developed. Contact Gerber at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-749-3182. For more great free publicity advice, visit: http://www.PublicityResults.com.