I know a lot of business owners shy away from pitching to a journalist, often because they simply don’t know how to approach the whole, ‘telling my story’ to appear in the newspaper or on the radio or TV, game.

However, some of you will have a go. And I applaud that attitude as, frankly, trying to secure media should be on every business owners ‘to do’ list if they want to build their brand, position themselves as an expert and be heard amongst all the social media noise!

But having pitched to the media for well over 10 years now, I have a few tips on what not to do when attempting to hook a journalist to cover your story.

Here are 3 sure-fire ways to send your email to their deleted items and maybe even be blacklisted:

  1. Your email subject line matters even more than the content of your email (to a point).  Why? Because it is the subject line they will see first in their inbox, and this is the difference between making them open it or delete it without even reading it.  The subject line is prime real estate when it comes to pitching. Do not overlook it and fill it with headings such as ‘A great story for you’ or ‘Pitch attached’ or ‘I thought you might be interested in this’ or worse still ‘Please open asap’! The aim of the game is to hook the journo into wanting to know more about your story which means, your subject line must give a strong indication as to what the story is about. Although I am not suggesting a ‘click-bait’ style heading, it must be intriguing enough to entice them and make them curious enough to open it.  Writing great headings is something I will share in a future blog.
  1. Sounds crazy, but your opening greeting and closing salutation is also important. Spelling the journalist’s name wrong (yes I have seen this), calling them lovie, friend or any other cringe-worthy greeting not to be used for a stranger in a professional setting, signing off with love and light, asking how their day is going and if they had a lovely weekend, or telling them they will want to interview you is ALL a BIG, NO!  Journalists, editors, producers, hosts are all busy people, they have no idea who you are and are only interested in knowing what the story is. Do not pretend to be their best friend or assume they are remotely interested in your story. Be succinct and professional.
  1. This tip is probably the hardest thing for business owners to understand and follow. Your pitch is not about sharing your life story and everything your business is doing. Your business will have heaps of story angles in it however the golden rule is ‘one story, one pitch.’ I say it again, one story one pitch. Not, but oh Susie can I just add in that we won this award and that we are launching a new product and that I overcame a serious illness to launch my business and that one of my team is an Olympian and that our product has saved a life and that a famous TV start wore our products and……so …..on…. you get the idea. Of course, all of these angles may indeed be media worthy, but you don’t share them all in one pitch as a big, garbled ramble in the hope of firing off so many angles that the journo will pick one. Guess what? They won’t pick any, as by the time they reach the second line, they will be lost and not know what story they are supposed to be spotting and plop the whole thing into the ‘too hard basket’. If they can’t spot a story within the first line or so, you have lost them. Better still, they need to spot it in the subject line (see tip 1). 

Still fancy having a go at using the media to scale your business? I hope so, as seriously, it is one of the most powerful strategies a growing business can use to generate quality leads. And, in my opinion is so much fun – who wants to fiddle with SEO keywords or waste money on paid ads that might never convert when you could be on TV sharing your story? 

The buzz of seeing yourself on TV, or listening to yourself on the radio or seeing your name in print is fantastic and what better content can you get than that to leverage and demonstrate to potential customers that you are credible and someone to do business with. 

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