Yesterday JournoLink sponsored Janet Murray’s Soulful PR Live event, a day filled with great PR tips from eight national journalists, networking with amazing business owners and a workbook ready to kick off anyone's PR journey.
Each journalist gave their advice on how to contact them and the best way to pitch your story. Ranging from ‘How to get featured in a national paper’ and ‘How to pitch opinion articles for the national press’.
Below we’ve selected seven key tips to take away.
Know the publication you’re pitching to
From all the information shared at Soulful PR this was the most stressed point by the journalists. Highlighting the need to read and understand the publication you're targeting. By reading a few issues or listening to a few shows you will start to learn the regular features and where your business fits.
When it comes to print publications, such as magazines and newspapers, Janet described how journalists plan the magazines through a flatplan. The idea that if you ripped out all the pages from a magazine and laid them on the floor in order to see how the articles and adverts would be organised.
By doing this a few times you will start to see patterns within the magazine. For example, every week they have an opinion article, and every other week they have an interview. Therefore when you pitch your story you can suggest where it would fit in the publication.
Be aware of lead times
Understanding lead times comes with knowing the publication you’re pitching to. This is important so you don’t miss an opportunity for coverage. For example, Andrea Thompson at Marie Claire explained how she works 3 months in advance for the print magazine, however website features can be online the day after they were pitched.
Therefore, when pitching your story know in advance whether you’re aiming for print or online. In addition, if you’re unaware of the lead times feel free to call the publication to ask.
Put the most important point at the top
This point may seem quite simple, however Keir Mudie, political correspondent from Sunday Mirror explained how many businesses forget to explain to journalists who they are and why they’re contacting them until halfway through their pitch. If you do this the journalist may have lost interest before they reach the main reason why you’re emailing them.
It is important to summarise the top line of your story in the first line of your pitch email, so the journalist instantly knows whether it is relevant to them and you won’t be wasting their time.
Make your pitch personal
Journalists prefer a personal email rather than a round robin to show that you understand why your business is relevant to the publication and why that particular journalist would be interested in your story.
Lynn Enright, news and content editor at The Pool suggested a light stalking is acceptable to make sure you can be specific in your pitch. This can be done by referencing a previous article they have written or something they’ve spoken about on their Twitter feed.
Don’t just talk about your business
Many businesses make the mistake of overloading journalists with information about their business rather than offering them a story to cover. Abigail Radnor, features editor at Guardian Weekend magazine explained how she would rather hear about your life and work experiences rather than your business.
Therefore it is important to build your pitch around a story.Remember that journalists are storytellers so you need to give them a story to tell.
Be visible on Twitter
If a pitch sparks a journalist's interest they will go online to find out more information about you and your business. Particularly when pitching yourself as an expert, they will want to find out who you are, your expertise and why people should be listening to you.
One of the main places they will go is Twitter, to see if you have an account and what you’re currently tweeting about. Anoosh Chakelian, senior writer at New Statesman explained how Twitter profiles are very important to share your views and create discussions. This way the journalist will be able to see that you know what you’re talking about.
Build networks and connections
In order to gain coverage and keep it consistent you need to build relationships with relevant journalists and create networks who you can regularly pitch ideas to, as well as becoming a go-to person when they’re looking for comments.
One place to start as a small business is to contact local publications and radio stations. Catherine Carr from BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour described how building networks with your local BBC radio stations can helped your PR as they’re constantly looking for people to comment on the news.
The seven points above will help any small business kick off their PR. If you would like to hear more of our business tips or would like more information about how you can get more media coverage for your business, sign up for our email updates here.
Written By: Camilla Holroyd, Media Relations Manager
Camilla is the all-important portal between JournoLink's businesses and journalists; connecting them on a daily basis through press releases, Twitter engagements and editorial requests.