Work With Journalists and Get Your Business In the Media  

Most businesses don’t reach out to the media, either they wait (and wait) for journalists to come to them because they believe their product or service is so special, or they end up in the media on the back foot, re-acting to a story.

When you know what journalists are looking for, and how they work, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to generate publicity yourself. Getting into the media will increase traffic to your website, get the phone ringing and ultimately bring in new clients and opportunities.

Here are five tips to get you started:

The easy way: Make use of online resources that connect journalists with experts. This is a really fast and easy way to get into the media. In Australia, many journalists use Source Bottle when they are searching for an expert to comment on a particular story in the pipelines. Just make sure to ask the journalist which news outlet they are working for, then make sure it’s worth your while before you agree to do too much work as there’s also a lot of content fillers on there too. Source Bottle is free.

Familiarise yourself with the right journalists: Most people know there are editors in the media, but that’s not necessarily the right person to pitch your story to. There are many other roles in newsrooms and in most cases the editor is not the person who will respond to press releases or work out which stories will be followed. If you keep trying to hit the editor up with a pitch you might find you have no luck. At a big metro newspaper, for example, the editor is going to be so busy, there’s a good chance they are not even going to get your email. It’s critical to work out who is the right person to pitch to.

Problem solve: The media is full of stories that offer advice. If you can solve readers’ or listeners’ problems, you’ll have a story. If you stick with what you know, this will be the kind of content that will get journalists interested. So rather than offering a profile piece on why your business is the biggest and best, or the latest award you won (yawn), offer some advice and problem solve.

Pick up the phone: In some 15 years of working as a journalist, I only had a handful of PR reps ever call me to discuss a story idea (or find out if I got their pitch). Considering that journalists at a national newspaper, widely read blog, popular magazine or TV show will be getting hundreds, if not thousands, of pitches a week, chances are they don’t even regularly open press releases or pitch emails. It always surprised me that PR companies rarely made those calls, yet they charged through the teeth! If you’re serious about getting publicity, what you need to do is get the journalist on the phone, find out if they even got your release and have a few other story angles up your sleeve to discuss in this chat.

Tie in with something in the media: Journalists are under pressure to keep big stories going, if you can find a way to tie your business in with something that’s already in the media, it’s a great way to get free press. This can be local, national or international. Electricians, for example, have hot opportunities right now talking about the new electricity price hikes that just came into effect this month, it’s also mid-winter so a great time to check heaters; the ABN is always topical and end of financial year is another opportunity (for next year).

Every business has a story – and I mean every business. If you don’t believe me, or don’t see what your stories are, drop me a line and I’ll come back with at least two good story angles that the media would be interested in about your business.

About Oryana Angel

I spent more than 15 years working as a journalist at newspapers like The Australian, and Sunday and Daily Telegraph, before starting boutique PR studio In The Media PR, with another former journalist Janyne Moore. Our clients constantly appear in TV shows like Sunrise and The Project; newspapers like the Australian Financial Review and Sydney Morning Herald; online news sites such as news.com.au and Huffington Post and FM and AM radio across the country.