editor

[010] How to pitch journalists like a pro

If you want to get great media coverage for your business, pitching is an essential skill. But what's the best way to pitch to a journalist? What exactly should you include in your pitch? And how can you make sure journalists actually open your email pitches?

Here’s what I cover in this episode:

  • How to pitch to journalists (when to email and when to pick up the phone)
  • What to include in a pitch to a journalist (and what to leave out)
  • Whether you should pitch journalists on social media
  • How to increase your chances of getting a journalist to open an email pitch
  • What to do if you don’t hear anything  back after pitching to a journalist 
  • Why you shouldn't lose heart if you get  a 'no' from a journalist (or even get completely ignored!)

Key resources and links

Why we need to talk about miscarriage (by me, in the Guardian)

Why press releases are dead - but you should still write them anyway (episode 2)

Why journalists don't care about your business (episode 6)

How to get big media coverage on a small business budget (my interview on Natalie Sisson's Suitcase Entrepreneur podcast)

Mentoring teenage girls: watching them develop in confidence is amazing (example of a story I was pitched over Twitter!)

Walking away from my business taught me the true meaning of success (download the pitch for this article here).

What to do next

If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it using the social media buttons at the top of this page.

I’d also love it if you could take a few minutes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on itunes. I read every one personally and may even read yours out on the show.

And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live.

Want to know more? Sign up for my FREE five day training course

Christmassy PR ideas it's not too late to pitch

Got a story idea with a Christmassy theme? If you’re looking for PR coverage in monthly titles, which generally work several months ahead, you’ve probably missed your chance. You may also be too late for some weeklies. But if you act now, there’s still plenty of time to place festive stories (including post-Christmas stories for January) in some publications/programmes.

Here’s a few ideas to get you started.

1.Piggybacking

Look out for Christmassy themed news stories you can ‘piggyback’ onto.

There are many ways of going about this, but the most common approach is to offer yourself (or your client) as an expert voice on the topic.

The great thing about piggybacking is that it isn’t just reactive i.e. responding to current news stories. You can also anticipate stories that will be covered by the media e.g. Christmas adverts, Christmas films/TV shows, Black Friday and so on and start working on ideas days - or even weeks - ahead.

Inspiration

What happened to the Christmas hit single?

Annoyed mother admits she was unmoved by the John Lewis advert

Christmas adverts show big brands are ignoring LGBT

How headphones have become the must-have accessory this Christmas

2.Do/say something interesting

Journalists aren't interested in your business or brand - but they might be interested in what you do or what you say.

So launch a campaign, hold an unusual event or offer an interesting opinion (something we haven’t heard a million times before).

Inspiration 

People are now covering their beards in glitter for the Ultimate Christmas Look (this genius trend was started by The Gay Beards, who made a video about it, posted pics on Instagram...and the rest is, erm, glistory)...

Children sing carols to local council to raise awareness of housing crisis

Christmas tree supplier to the stars forecasts best season ever

Boy who asked santa for a toothbrush inspired Christmas campaign

Could your choice of Christmas gift affect your child’s confidence?

Why I’ve gone cold turkey on Christmas consumerism

3.Do some research

Journalists love data, so doing some research around a topical Christmas theme e.g. loneliness, overspending, squabbles with relatives can be very effective. It doesn’t have to be costly either (both in terms of time and money).

You can put together a survey in a couple of hours (or less) using free tools like Survey Monkey or Wufoo. Just remember you need a decent sized sample (1000 is generally cited as the minimum, but if it’s a niche area, you might be able to get away with 5-600) and a fresh or surprising take on a topical theme.

Remember, too, that it’s all about the questions you ask; no one is going to be surprised to hear people spend more or row with their loved ones at Christmas. So what questions could you ask that would get new, more surprising insights...?

Inspiration

Take That tops poll of Christmas cracker jokes

A quarter of couples see Christmas as ‘make or break’ time

The typical man buys just three Christmas presents

Many expect to spend Christmas alone

4 in 10 people will fake joy at Christmas gifts

4.Teach something

Most editors – particularly on online publications – are increasingly hungry for content they don’t have to pay for. And they’re particularly keen to commission thought leadership (opinion) and ‘how to’ articles. Why this isn’t good news for freelance writers for me, it’s great if you’re looking to get coverage for your business or brand.

So how could you use your expertise to ‘teach’ people to deal with Christmas (or the aftermath?).

And, by the way, you can also do this on your own blog/website, as online gym owner Julia Buckley has done here. As well as being great content for your own audience/potential clients, if you can offer good quality video content to go with your copy, editors will be delighted.

Inspiration

‘Tis the season to be ruthless: Christmas decluttering

How to teach...Christmas carols and festive song

Christmas Cookies that no one will guess are actually healthy

How entrepreneurs can beat the holiday blues

I got the PM fit - now I’ll do the same for you

5.Share something personal

Sharing personal stories can be great way to get media coverage, as if people feel they can identify with you, they’ll naturally want to know more about your business or brand.

The trick is look at the areas of your life which intersect with your business/work and see what experiences you’ve had that other people will (a) care about (b) want to share with other people (c) will have an opinion on.

Examples might include: your first Christmas without a loved one, experiencing mental/physical illness at Christmas, having no money/being in debt at Christmas, working over Christmas, getting married/divorced at Christmas, having/losing a baby at Christmas and so on…

If you think this all sounds too negative, turn it on its head: your first illness-free Christmas, your first ‘employed’ Christmas (after being out of work), your first Christmas as adoptive parents and so on. The key thing, though, is that it’s a unique story (or at least a unique take on a situation) that people will care about.

Inspiration

Why this Christmas will be different for us? Four people, four life-changing events

The Christmas I put my horror festive periods behind me

Dealing with the death of a child at Christmas time

My first Christmas without my children

Life after steel: school children discuss Christmas in Redcar

An unusual Christmas present saved my life

Good luck with getting some Christmassy PR coverage for your business or brand. I'd love to hear how you get on, so do drop me a line  or leave a comment in the box below with your news.

[008] Beware of awareness days

There's now an awareness day/week/campaigns for everything you can possibly think of - from 'World Cancer Day' to 'Jazz Appreciation Week' (yes, really!).

Great hook for a media story, right? Well, maybe. There are now SO many awareness days that some journalists are wary of commissioning stories around them. I've even spoken to journalists/editors who flat out refuse to cover stories hooked on awareness days.

Does these mean you can't use awareness days - or create one of your own - to get press coverage? Not at all. You just have to think creatively. 

Here's what's covered in this episode:

  • What are awareness days are
  • Why they may not be as great a PR opportunity as you might think
  • If you are going to use awareness days to get press coverage, how to do it right
  • What to consider if you want to create your own awareness day

Key resources and links

Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium

We need to talk about miscarriage

Survey Monkey 

Baby Loss Awareness Week 

What to do next

If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it using the social media buttons at the top of this page.

I’d also love it if you could take a few minutes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on itunes. I read every one personally and may even read yours out on the show.

And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live.

Like what you heard? Get my FREE download with ideas on how to make the most of awareness days in your PR.

Stuck for content ideas? Read these 12 things...

My recent podcast launch has meant doubling my content output, prompting the inevitable question: what if I run out of ideas? 

It hasn't happened yet - but just in case it does - this week's round-up post is all about generating content ideas. So here goes...

Three clever things to do with old blog posts from Sarah Von Bargen.

Melyssa Griffin also has ideas on what to do with old blog posts. 

365 blog topic ideas from Dana Fox.

20 things to write about when you're totally stuck from Gala Darling.

How to use visual content to drive traffic, shares and sales from Donna Moritz and Amy Porterfield.

Three ways to write thought-provoking content that gets people talking from Stefanie Flaxman.

Tips on what to blog about from Nikki Elledge-Brown.

How to create link posts that lead to connections, sales and traffic with Sarah Von Bargen.

Instead of creating new content, you can always upgrade. Sarah Morgan has 18 types of content upgrade and Mariah Coz also has content upgrade advice.

Improving your SEO can help you reach a bigger audience (without creating tons of new content) and Neil Patel has 25 questions to ask yourself before your next post 

Regina Anaejionu has tips on how to create an email course.  

I created one too (how to write awesome press releases) and it was much easier than I imagined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[003] Fear free pitching with Alexia Leachman

Do you feel nervous about pitching to journalists?

Have you ever held back from pitching a story idea because you were worried your idea would be rejected or ignored?

Do you sometimes spot a media story and think ‘that could have been ME? If only I’d had the guts to make that call/send that email?’

If so, you’ll love my interview with fear expert Alexia Leachman.

Alexia has helped dozens of people clear their fears around everything from fear of telephones to childbirth and has tons of tips that will help you feel more confident when you’re pitching to journalists.

Here’s what we cover in this episode:

  • How naming your fears can help you tackle your nerves around pitching to journalists
  • How fear can sometimes be your intuition telling your pitch needs more work
  • How laughing at yourself can help you move past your fears
  • A simple technique that can help you clear your fears around pitching...in minutes

Key resources and links

Marie Forleo’s interview with Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert on her new book on creativity Big Magic

Gabrielle Bernstein on how to release fear

The story I pitched to the Huffington Post immediately after this interview - and after talking to Alexia about my pitching fears (N.B. It wasn’t the one I was planning to pitch before the call - I pitched that to the Guardian instead!).

Get Alexia’s five step fear clearance method or listen to her Headtrash podcast.

Feel the fear and pitch it anyway (from my blog)

Soulful PR Podcast Guide

My YouTube channel

**MY BOOK ** Your Press Release Is Breaking My Heart (A Totally Unconventional

Guide To Selling Your Story In The Media)

My FREE Soulful PR Facebook Community: tips & advice for promoting your business

Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

What to do next

If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it using the social media buttons at the top of this page.

I’d also love it if you could take a few minutes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on itunes. I read every one personally and may even read yours out on the show.

And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live.

Want to know more? Get my free tip sheet on Fear Free Pitching

17 signs you're doing ok with your PR (even if you don't think so)...

If you’re reading this post, I’m sure you already know there’s no quick-fix for PR. With so many people competing for column inches and airtime, journalists can afford to be choosy about the stories they run. So it can take months of pitching - and countless knockbacks - to place a story in a newspaper or land an interview on TV.

But when you’re hearing the word ‘no’ more than ‘yes’ it’s tempting to lose heart. Especially if you’re working with people who think PR is as easy as dashing off a press release or calling an editor with a story idea.

The good news is you’re probably doing better than you think you are. But you're so busy trying to make the big things happen, you’re not celebrating the small wins.

So rather than dwelling on all the things that aren’t going right for you, start looking at what is working. When you focus on the everyday victories - like getting to speak to the journalist you’ve been chasing for weeks or setting up a lunch with an editor you’re keen to work with - you’ll find it’s easier to stay positive and keep moving forward. And it’s those small, incremental steps that help you build up the relationships - and the know-how - to create incredible PR opportunities.

Having trouble seeing the positives? Here’s 23 signs you’re doing ok with your PR...

1. Journalists are replying to your emails…even if it’s a ‘no’

Most journalists get hundreds of pitches and press releases every week (some every day). They can’t possibly reply to them all. So if they’re taking the time to respond to your pitches (even if it’s a ‘no’), it shows you're pitching decent ideas. And given that most of the ideas they get are completely irrelevant, that definitely makes you memorable.

2. Journalists sometimes call you

When journalists call you for help with a story, it shows they (a) know what you do and (b) see you as a credible source of stories and comment. Given there are so many businesses and organisations out there trying to get their attention, this is a Very Good Thing.

3. You’re networking with journalists on social media

Looked up a journalist on Twitter today? Or, better still, tweeted one? Give yourself a pat on the back. The payback may not come immediately, but if you’re making Twitter lists of journalists and  sharing their articles or responding to their case study requests (even if there is no immediate gain for you), you’re building relationships that will serve you well in the future.

4. You’re listening to feedback (even if it’s silence) 

If you’re taking the time to look at unsuccessful pitches/press releases and analyse what you think went wrong - and how you might do better next time - congratulations. You’re one step closer to getting your next 'yes.'

5. You’re getting better at handling people who think they can do your job 

Working with people who think writing a press release or calling a journalist is a guarantee of press coverage is annoying. But complaining about it won’t change anything. If you’ve organised some media training or invited a journalist in to talk to your team about how it really  works - well done. You’re taking responsibility for educating colleagues about how the media works - which will make your life easier in the long run.

6. You’re prepared to fail

Pitched to a publication or programme you thought was ‘out of reach’? You’re doing a great job. If you want to grow, you have to be prepared to get uncomfortable sometimes. Keep going.

7. You’re committed to understanding the publications/programmes you pitch to

If you’ve spent time studying the publications or programmes you want to get coverage in (and by that I mean analysing the content, in detail, over a number of days/weeks/months) you’re doing the one thing that will really make a difference to your pitching success. Keep doing it.

8. You’re taking every opportunity to meet journalists 

Got out of bed an hour earlier for a breakfast briefing with journalists? Gone to an evening drinks reception when you’d rather be in front of the telly - just so you can meet a particular editor? Smart move. Grabbing every opportunity to meet journalists, face-to-face, will make it much easier for you to create PR opportunities.

9. You’ve suffered knockbacks…but you haven’t let it hold you back

Rejection isn’t nice. But if you’re learning from every ‘no’ you get, and using this to improve your PR skills, you’ll be far more successful in the long run.

10. You go out of your way to help journalists…even if there’s nothing in it for you

Helped a journalist to find a tricky case study - or offered to do it yourself - even if there’s nothing in it for you? You’ve got the right idea. Showing you’re resourceful and can make things happen, quickly, will make you memorable to journalists. So when you contact them about something that will benefit you, they’ll be far more likely to pay attention.

11. You know PR is more than press coverage

You look at every ‘contact point’ people have with your business or organisation - from your social media profiles to the way staff answer the phone - and consider what it says about you. And you try to fix the bits that don’t work as well as they should do.

12. You’ve optimised your website…so journalists can find you

There’s nothing more frustrating for a journalist on a deadline, than finding the perfect organisation to talk about a particular topic...then not be able to get hold of anyone there. So if you’ve got easy-to-find PR contacts on your website - including a  mobile number for enquiries outside of regular office hours - you're increasing your chances of press coverage.

13. You’re social media savvy

You also know journalists use social media sites like Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram as search engines, so you’ve put PR contact details on your profiles too.

14. You ‘PR’ your press coverage

Getting PR is only part of the story; if you’ve landed coverage in a magazine, newspaper, or on radio or TV, you need to tell the world about it. So if you use social media channels to promote your press coverage and have a dedicated ‘in the media’ area on your website, you’re making the most of your media coverage.

15. You’re not elitist about press coverage

PR isn't about massaging egos (at least it shouldn't be). It’s about helping your business or organisation achieve its objectives - which can be anything from attracting new clients to influencing policymakers. So while you might love the idea of a spread in a weekend supplement, if the people you want to reach read a niche trade publication, that’s where you need to be. If you’re clear about who you want to reach and do your homework on what they read, watch and listen to, you’re far more likely get coverage in the right places.

16. You do your homework on lead times

Too many good stories don’t get media coverage because journalists don't hear about them in time. Monthly publications or programmes can work up to six months ahead. Weeklies can be up to six weeks. So if you’ve picked up the phone recently to find out about lead times (that is the time between an article/programme being commissioned and it being published/aired), you’ve got your priorities right.

17. You look beyond the obvious

If you don’t have anything new to say - a new product or piece of research for example - it’s tempting to think you can’t get press coverage. But there are so many PR opportunities out there that don’t revolve around news. So if you’ve tried pitching a ‘how to’ piece, creating a new story out of existing data or ‘piggybacking’ an opinion article on a topical news story, you’re thinking creatively - which is what great PR is all about. And here's some more ideas on how to get press coverage when you don't have any news.