GUEST POST BY KRISTIN OF CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT AGENCY
You don't need to spend thousands of dollars a month on hiring a PR firm. You can do-it-yourself with the right strategy, pitch, and media contact.
In any publicity strategy, the first step is finding out who to contact at whatever outlet you'd like to be featured. Generic email addresses like Contact@Magazine.com are very rarely monitored.
So let's walk through things step-by-step. Just keep in mind that you never want to send one pitch to hundreds of different media outlets - because that’s a surefire way to annoy people before you get started. How often do you respond to mass-market, unsolicited e-mails? If you’re like most people, it’s never!
So sit down, and write out a list of ten publications or media outlets which you would like to have your product featured in. Don't worry, I'll wait. :)
All finished? Good. Now that you have your list, you need to find out the specific person to contact at each outlet. This will depend on your product.
You can begin searching Google, LinkedIn, looking at the masthead of your favorite magazine, or subscribing to the free PR source, HelpaReporter.com.
***As an aside, if you sign up for HelpaReporter.com, you'll receive emails daily with inquiries from the media looking for experts and non-experts. Throughout the years, I’ve secured coverage (for both myself and my clients) on Inc.com, Entrepreneur.com, Forbes, and many more by pitching editors and journalists from HelpaReporter.com).***
Now that you have your list of ten media outlets and editors you’d like to pitch, before you do anything else, you need to make sure your product or service fits into their work. If not, you’re simply wasting their time (and yours). To help you determine where your product or service fits, all we need to do is take a look the most common editorial titles:
Editorial Assistant – Editorial assistants generally manage the administrative tasks of running a publication. They generally aren’t the right contact to pitch. If you’ve found a prospective contact with this job title, keep searching.
Managing Editor – A managing editor usually decides whether articles are accepted or rejected. They often have seniority – but at larger publications, they won’t deal with the day-to-day task of finding new products. As a result, they generally aren’t the right contact to pitch - unless it’s a small local or regional outlet.
Senior Editor – These editors are usually in charge of one section of a magazine. They may develop story ideas, write articles, edit articles, assign work to freelancers, and work with the design department. Senior editors are ideal candidates to pitch for product placement.
Features Editor – A features editor is generally in charge of assigning stories to reporters or junior staff; and for generating ideas for feature stories. The features editor will also review and guide reporters on the direction of their pieces and will help locate new sources he or she wants the reporter to contact. You can pitch a features editor with a longer story idea (generally between 1,000 - 2,000 words).
Digital editor – A digital content editor is usually responsible for taking web content from idea to publication by overseeing a staff team or freelancers. You can pitch a digital editor for online product placement coverage.
Now that you know what each editorial role covers, take a look back over your list. Are your ten contacts good ones to pitch? If not, you have a bit more detective work to do.
Now that you have your media contacts, it's time to draft a compelling pitch that captures the attention of that fashion editor, television producer, or blogger.
Writing the Pitch /
Above all else, you need to make sure what you’re going to pitch is newsworthy and timely. For example, if you've trying to get press for your new outerwear collection, you're going to take a very different approach depending on whether you're trying to gain exposure in the summer or the winter. Consider tying your pitch to the current time of the year, or something trending in the news at that moment: the Oscars, Halloween, Christmas, the latest viral video, spring break, etc.
If there’s a particularly special outlet where you’d like to coverage, you can offer that outlet an exclusive story (meaning you give that media outlet the first option to run a story). Of course, if you go down this route, you have to make sure that no other media outlet covers you until the "exclusive" piece is printed.
Subject Line /
You only have a few seconds to capture any editor’s attention with an unsolicited e-mail. Keep in mind, editors receive upwards of 500 pitches per day, so it's crucial that your subject line grabs him or her immediately. It needs to be relevant, interesting and compelling. Additionally, your subject line should be:
Limited to 10 words or less (I try to keep mine between five and eight words)
Include the name of the outlet you’re pitching
Include what you’re pitching (i.e., a feature, event, or demo)
Above all, you need to make sure that your email conveys that you understand who the reader is, and what they are looking for. That's how you gain rapport with the media.
Be sure to address your media contact specifically by their name. Don't start your email with a generic "Hi there" or "To whom it may concern". Just because your email isn't expected, doesn't mean that it can't be personalized - unless you want your pitch to end up in the trash.
The body of your pitch should be between 200-300 words, and devoted to your brand and company. Be sure to include five to seven bullet points about your product or services that the reader can look over quickly and easily.
Remember, editors see the same generic pitches every day, so you have to make yours stand out. Avoid using the words "premium", "leading", "innovative", and "superior" - otherwise, you'll sound like everyone else. You need to show the editors why your brand is compelling - simply writing that your brand is "innovative" doesn't make it true.
After the body of your e-mail, include a 200-word bio or background information section about your company. Let your reader know who you are - your accomplishments, hobbies, and other interesting facts. And most importantly, be sure to include your contact information!
Finally, be sure to include a call to action at the end of your pitch. Ask if the media contact would like to receive more information, schedule a demonstration, or receive a sample.
One more tip: make sure to include a link to images via Dropbox.com or on a website within your pitch. Never send attachments because most of the time, media professionals won't open them.
After the Pitch /
If you don't get an email response, follow up by email in a few days. I'd strongly suggest not calling your contact directly unless you already know them personally. If you don't hear back after your first follow up, you can follow up one more time. If you don't get a response to your second follow up, then unfortunately, the editor is almost definitely not interested. Any subsequent follow ups will only anger or upset the editor.
Never ask a media contact if they received your email and when your story is going to go to print or be covered online. It reeks of desperation, and will only serve to annoy your prospective contact.
Take the time to send a thank you note after your story is published.
As you can see, it's not difficult to secure media coverage for your creative venture. Instead, it takes time, research, understanding what the media coverage, and knowing how your story ties to their readership.
Kristin is the founder and managing director of the award-winning firm, Creative Development Agency. She has forged successful partnerships with celebrity fashion designer and correspondent NV Nick Verreos; women’s wear designer Yunes Swathe; Vancouver Fashion Week; prestige hair care brand Briogeo; French accessory designer Mona Roussette; and many more. She has generated media placements in Wall Street Journal, The Today Show, Seventeen, Glamour, and ELLE magazines, Glam.com, and countless other outlets.
She also holds a master's degree in marketing from New York University, and is also a contributor to HuffingtonPost.com, Entrepreneur.com, and NYDailyNews.com. She is the owner of business consultancy, FemFounder.co, and the founder of the lifestyle tech startup, TheHauteRebel.com.