Journalists know how to write a good story, but they also realize that their story will be much stronger and more credible if they are provided with a third-party source that can help validate their words. At BLASTmedia, that’s where we come in! Finding the appropriate media outlet and then providing them with the appropriate source can be tricky, but our clients really shine when we get that right fit.
From the beginning of a campaign to the end, BLASTmedia’s media relations specialists over-communicate with our clients to ensure we know their product/service, executive team, competition, general audience and their industry landscape inside and out. Once we have the artillery in our pocket, it’s essential to consider how we can use it. We must consider which journalists want the “grenades,” (e.g. interviews with the CEO), who needs the guns (e.g. product samples), and who is just looking for a knife (e.g. a high-res product shot) to thread the story together. This is where the”call to action” comes into play, and it can often determine life and death — both in regards to your relationship with the journalist AND your client’s role in his or her story.
A “call to action” is essential when making your pitch to a journalist – and it must be clear and to the point. After explaining your client’s product, service or situation, ask a question or set a clear action step. If you want a journalist to consider reviewing your client’s product, offer a sample. If you want them to speak with a customer who might qualify as a third-party source, request it. It’s essential to be clear and to the point.
As a PR and media relations professional, here are five great things to offer in your call to action when pitching a journalist:
- Case Study – As an example, our client Good Nite Lite recently had a customer who used the product with their son who has autism. The customer has a wonderful story to tell and we spoke with them to draft a case study. If you do this for a client, be sure to send it to the client and to the family first before sending it to the media. Ask the family if they would consider speaking with the media if any opportunities arise, and then target appropriate media with the case study. In the pitch, ask journalists if they would like to receive the case study or speak with the family about their experience.
- Interview Opportunities – Get to know your client and the key experts on their team. Once you identify who is best to comment on what areas of the product or service, draft a pitch that explains how/why they are an expert and offer them up for a quick phone or possible face-to-face interview. Be sure to let the media know a few things your client would be willing to discuss during the interview so they know what to expect and can determine if your client is a good fit.
- Bad example: Do you have five minutes to speak with the CEO, Dave Chen?
- Good example: Any interest in speaking with the CEO of NextWorth, Dave Chen, about some upcoming iPhone 4.0 trade-in promotions, competition with retail programs, secondary markets, e-waste, etc?
- Product Sample / Images – Whether you are targeting online product reviewers, YouTube reviewers or technology editors at daily newspapers, offer them what you know they will need to move forward. If it’s a newspaper or magazine, be prepared to send them high-res (300dpi) images and possibly a sample to test for consideration. Before offering these types of materials, be sure you have them readily available. If possible, provide images that fit the outlet (e.g. pics of the product on an airplane if you are targeting in-fight or travel magazines). Anytime you can help associate your product or service like this to the outlet’s audience, you may have a better chance of increasing traffic/sales!
- Bylined Articles – This is another great way to utilize the experts on your clients’ team! Summarize a bylined article, why it’s important for them to publish this, and then offer the journalist a chance to speak with the author of the article, or to receive the bylined article for consideration.
“A bylined article is one of the most effective tools available for establishing credibility with a target audience because it showcases you as a thought leader in your field. And in doing so, the article draws attention to the stature and strength of your company and helps differentiate it from competitors.” — Entrepreneur.com.
Bylined articles are also useful for drawing attention to issues important to your company.
For instance, our client Ontario Systems offers a story from an industry expert’s point of view entitled, “How to Choose a Collections Agency.” As a result, VentureBeat.com posted the story on its “Entrepreneurs Corner” blog.
- Additional Information or Fact Sheet – If it’s a pretty deep subject or you just want to keep the pitch short and sweet to see if there is any media interest in the first place, be sure to let them know that you can provide additional information on the subject.
- Product pitch – offer a fact sheet or recent press release
- Founder/CEO story – have a biography handy
- Company story – offer to send over a company backgrounder, some additional sales numbers, stats or projections (be sure you get approval first from your client!)
In the realm of media relations, the process of finding the right media outlets and then choosing the right call to action for your pitch can take time and effort; but the rewards are immense. As a result, you can establish a professional relationship with an editor and – even more importantly – your client remains in the media spotlight!