We just finished listening to a webinar put on by Vocus about how to work with your media contacts in the ever changing PR world.  Michael Smart of Michael Smart PR gave some great insights that you can use to help get the news out about your business.  The following are some highlights from the webinar with some added advice from our experiences.

First, the media world has drastically changed in the last few years.  There has been much consolidation,  Journalists must work on more projects, much faster to keep up with a shortened news cycle.  Think about how much your target journalists read each day and how many outlets they may be producing content for.  Social media and the internet has drastically changed how journalist work.  Keep this in mind when contacting journalists.  Gone are the days where they work on select stories for one media outlet.

When contacting your target journalists that you want to share your news, make sure you contact journalists who have experience with this type of news and would have an interest in the story.  Don’t pitch a tech story to the restaurant review editor (unless your tech story has to do with the restaurant industry & even then probably not the right outlet)  Customize your pitch so the journalist knows that you are sincerely reaching out to them because you know the story could be a fit for them.  Get Journalists what they are looking for.

It is also important to not make the pitch about you or your company Lead with how the story affects them and others not you.  Make it relatable to the journalist and make sure that the pitch is substantive to them.  Pitch your story to the journalist and make it relatable.

Your initial pitch should be a 10 second pitch so keep the pitch short and after interest is shown send more detail.  These journalists may see hundreds if not thousands of e-mails each day.  2 pages will probably not be read.  Spare proper names in your pitch unless they add to the pitch and don’t worry about punctuation/acronyms – keep it short.

Write a winning subject line.  The journalist knows you are pitching a story so don’t say that so tease what comes next so they want to read the content.  Take advice from the magazines you see at the grocery store check-out line – these 5-7 word headlines grab your attention and these tried and true principles can help you grab the attention of the journalists.

Do the leg work for journalists and bloggers.  We referenced new time constraints earlier.  The timeframe for article or blog construction is much shorter and journalists may be willing to use references you supply.  Offer art or visuals & if you don’t have one give the journalist examples of what they could use for visuals.  When offering visuals post them to flickr or a web service don’t send as an attachment.


Find an angle.  Use this for boring or routine events.  Do you have quarterly benchmarks that your CEO loves and wants to sell but readers may not be interested in hearing about…Again.  How do you make these stories something people want to read about or a journalist would want to write about. Use angles about how you reached the event not necessarily what is happening that day.  The story is often more interesting than the result.  Tie your story into Pop Culture – this is what consumers want so if you can help a journalist find a tie that readers will want to follow it can help.  What do people need?  Real people experiencing the story & make sure these people are available and communicate/articulate the message you are trying to share.

Finally, what to do when you get no response.  Michael Smart says when you follow up, never say you are “following up”.  Journalists are busy and trying to keep up and don’t like being “followed up on”.  His recommended steps are to first e-mail, 2nd e-mail (maybe slightly different subject or pitch), then phone call til the answer but don’t reference either e-mail

Finally, Michael said to Always work to get on target’s radar screen.  Read, watch and react to your target’s work.  #FF them, RT them, share and tag in FB.  E-mail congrats.  Comment.  Be sincere.  Acknowledge who you work for every time you do this so when you have a story they recognize your name.  It is also important to read the journalists you target so Michael says to pick 7 influencers, set aside 1 hour a week prefer 12 minutes a day.

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