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Basics of Media Relations

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

If your organization is growing, innovative, or generally interesting, it can help business to share stories with media outlets. However, getting started in media outreach can be a bit overwhelming. The first steps are the most important. After you get used to reaching out to media outlets and start building relationships, it gets easier. Here are some basic steps you should take to build media relations as a small business:

  1. Create a contact list: Think about what outlets might be most interested in stories your company has to share. Ask yourself whether local outlets, national outlets, or niche publications would be most appropriate. Also think about if print media, video, or audio media would be best. After narrowing down your options, find who you need to communicate with. You can do this by figuring out what kind of stories or news your organization has to offer and then finding the reporter, editor, or producer who focuses on a relevant section of the media outlets you have chosen. Those are the people who should be on your media contact list.

  2. Personalize your emails: Sending a general email to all of your contacts isn’t good enough. No one will be interested in a story if they think you have no idea who you’re talking to. Mention them by name in the introduction, and mention a story that they recently reported on and explain why they should be interested in your story. Your pitch should be personalized to the reporter. Just make sure you’re not contacting them with new ideas too much at first, or you’ll get on their nerves and burn bridges.

  3. Only pitch newsworthy stories: If your story is generic or uninteresting, it won’t get published in any media outlet. Media representatives are generally only interested in trendy topics, like fashion, technology, health, etc. Human interest stories are also interesting if you can pitch them right. Remember: news needs to be timely and relevant and human interest stories need to tug at the heartstrings.

  4. Build relationships: If a reporter uses your story, make sure you send them an email thanking them. If the interview went well, taking them out for coffee or lunch as a thank you might be appropriate. Building personal relationships with media representatives can help your organization get more stories in the news. First and foremost, make sure that you are a pleasant and friendly person to work with.

Pitching to media representatives is scary. Don’t expect it to pay off at first, either. It’s important to tweak your approach with every rejection. Before you email a reporter, make sure that your story is newsworthy and relevant, or your efforts won’t be worthwhile.

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