Make your pitch. How to ‘sell in’ news releases to the media

To gain media coverage for your news stories, you frequently need to put some extra work in.

Unless you are working for a recognised brand, or organisation that is often covered in the media and approached for stories and quotes, you might need to hit the phones.

Few of us particularly enjoy ‘cold calling’, but if you plan your approach carefully in advance, the process of ‘selling in’ your story should go smoothly and you should enjoy more coverage as a result.

You can’t automatically expect the media to pick up your news release and use it (although you might get lucky!). But a carefully thought out and timed phone call to key journalists working for your target media might yield results.

However, before picking up that phone, do consider carefully:

  • Do you have a good enough story in the first place, that your target publications and websites will want to run? See one of my previous blogs.
  • If you have a well-written news release and any supporting materials you need (such as photos, or a one page company background profile), choose your key target media well, composing a list of the most important outlets to contact directly. It may be worth tailoring your news release to suit different types of media; for instance, trade media are likely want more technical and product-based information; the daily newspaper in your town or city is more likely to respond to a people-based story
  • If you are going to call, pick your time carefully. Monthly and weekly magazines work to set copy deadlines, find out when they are from the publications before reaching for the phone and avoid making your call on deadline day! National papers may be receptive to a call between 11am or midday in the morning, following editorial meetings, or 2-3pm. Do avoid bothering journalists when they are especially busy meeting deadlines
  • When you do get through to a journalist on your target list, you need to get the point of your news story (which should be the introduction, if written correctly) across quickly and succinctly. You have around 15 seconds to gain their interest. Make sure, if they are interested or simply ask to see your copy to get a better idea of the story, you have it ready to email straight over
  • Once you’ve sent the story over (which of course should include relevant contact information) don’t pester the journalist with calls asking whether it will be used. Or ring later to ask why a press release didn’t get covered. This will not win you any friends in the media
  • Avoid sending unsolicited photos as attachments (as JPEGs and so on) to the media – journalists’ email in-boxes are often quite clogged and large files can cause resentment. Offer photos or visuals but wait for them to accept before sending those images
  • Keep detailed notes of the conversations, including when you called, which publication or outlets, and what the results were. This will help you build up valuable intelligence for your media relations campaign. Ultimately, you aim to reach the stage when journalists approach you for information!  

If you would like more advice on researching and writing good news releases that gain coverage, or on media relations in general, please email me:

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