How to Pitch Your Story to Press
Here is ‘The Clear Guide Light’, a weekly column highlighting the most important actions you can take now to get your communications strategy in place.
Now you know how important PR is, you’ve crafted a succinct, yet powerful press release and you’ve got a good press list. All that’s left to do is share it with the world.
But journalists have to write up several stories per day. So how do you ensure your press release is one of those stories? And just as importantly, how can you make your email stand out in a crowded inbox?
First, you have identify the right contacts for your story and once that’s done, it’s time to send your story to them.
And there are three options for this:
- You can either issue the release as a blanket email (make sure to blind copy all the contacts!)
- You can use a media distribution service like Vuelio or even Mailchimp. The advantage of using one of them is that you know who has opened and read your release and can follow up accordingly.
- Or you can issue the release one by one in personalised emails - this is more time consuming but works best!
Tips & Tricks for personalised emails:
There are few hard and fast rules for direct pitching, as you’ll have your own individual rapport with your specific contacts, but there are a few general pointers for how you might go about pitching journalists you don’t already have a relationship with:
- Timing – You’ll need to think about the day (and time) you hit the “send” button because certain days and times have better success rates than others. Additionally, it's important to consider the day of the week. While modern-day businesses are often active seven days a week, press releases tend not to be read or actioned over the weekend or first thing Monday morning.
- Talk normally – Journalists don’t require special treatment. Would you start an email to a friend with “Happy Friday”, “God, glad it’s nearly the weekend”, and thousands of exclamation marks!!!!!!!!! Probably not. So, don’t do it to press. Be polite, talk normally and cut to the chase. Journalists are busy people and they want the story first and foremost.
- Knowledge – Demonstrate that you know the publication in question, and have a vague idea of where your story might fit in. Whenever possible, you want to show that some thought has gone into your email, and you’re contacting them with something they can use, as opposed to just spamming them.
- Keep it brief and skim-readable – Ideally 2 paragraphs, 3 at most. Anything more is asking for more attention than your email is likely to get. Additional detail can be put into the attached press release – your email should be eye-catching topline info.
- Good imagery – Now more than ever, it is important to include highly engaging visuals to help support and communicate your story and create an easier news gathering experience for the journalist. You’re also more likely to land coverage as your story might be picked over someone else’s – purely because your visuals are more enticing.
- Thank You – If your story does get picked up, I really recommend you thank the journalist. It can facilitate a relationship which you can then nurture, and this might then lead to further coverage down the line.
- Don’t get disheartened – Not every press release will get picked up, so don't get discouraged if it takes a while for you to gain traction. Keep tweaking and refining your approach until you see success. Your first piece of coverage could well be the domino that starts the run. A story picked up by one outlet can soon snowball from publication to publication.
Getting a mention or being featured online, in a magazine or local publication can help you generate great buzz and gain new supporters for your restaurant, but the most impactful coverage you can achieve is a REVIEW.
So, join me next week where I’ll be sharing my tips on how to get your restaurant reviewed by a food blogger, writer of critic.
Andrea Klar-Nathan is MD of Clear Communications. With over 15 years of hospitality communications experience; she co-owned her first agency by 2011 which she then sold 7 years later. Her experience includes everything that’s connected to hospitality: Michelin starred restaurants, pop-ups, venues, events, even wine storage solutions. You name it, she’s done it.
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