Pardon me, but I have a small ax to grind. I see story after story on the frenetic start-up culture in San Francisco; in-depth profiles on millennials who live on the cheap and work long hours to create the “next big thing.”
I respect the grind, believe me. But these articles, most recently a piece in The New York Times called “The Silicon Valley Hustle,” make it seem like Northern California is the only place on Earth where young professionals commit themselves to a cause or passion.
Um, what about the rest of us? There are entrepreneurs in every corner of this country with brilliant solutions to everyday problems. If you have a product/service that deserves media coverage, you have the right to let a reporter know. The way you seek a story, though, requires a little nuance.
How to Pitch a Reporter/Blogger about Your Business
A story about your company in the newspaper, on a blog or on TV is a tremendous marketing opportunity. The coverage exposes your product/service to new audiences, and you can also add the “media hit” to your website as proof of your success.
That being said, there are no guarantees when you reach out to the media. Even the best email intros may not fetch a response. But as the legendary hockey player Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” So down below, I lay out strategies to send the email with confidence and make your pitch hard to ignore.
Two notes before we get started:
- If your company has never received media coverage before, focus on local news outlets and not the national ones. To go after national reporters/bloggers, it helps to provide a link to coverage you landed at the local level. You should include the link after the line that explains why your product/service is a response to a new trend or need in the market. In the template below, the link comes after the sentence that ends “shoes, pants, shirts and accessories.”
- Do your research and send the email to the most relevant reporter/blogger for your topic/industry. Who already covers, for instance, health trends, new restaurants or hi-tech? Don’t pitch the wrong person.
Subject line: [Name of company], new [name of industry] [kind of entity, ex: start-up, nonprofit, restaurant] in [your city] you should know about
Sample subject line: Acme Corporation, new fashion startup in Atlanta you should know about
Hi [first name of reporter],
I’m [first and last name], [job title] at [name of company and link to it; for instance, “Acme Styles“], a/an [describe the company in one sentence; for instance, “an app that allows people across Atlanta to share their clothes and style tips”]. It’s nice to meet you.
Note: Then explain what you want and put your product in context. Remember, reporters look for cultural trends and patterns. If there’s momentum around a certain idea, then say so.
I’m writing you because I feel Acme Styles is an innovative concept and part of a new trend in fashion. Many young people today prefer to “rent” clothes instead of buy them outright. It’s more affordable and allows people to wear a greater variety of shoes, pants, shirts and accessories. [If you have an upcoming event, include it here in bold; for instance, “We’re having a spring fashion show/cocktail hour on Monday, April 12 at 7 pm at Acme Auditorium. Here’s more info if you’d like to come.”]
Note: Next, reference two of the reporter’s previous stories, how much you enjoyed them and how your story would be a good fit for coverage too. Notice how I include the date of the story, the headline and the link. Those details make your email more authentic.
I enjoy your reporting and think you do a great job covering the [name of industry; for instance, “start-up”] scene. I was fascinated by your story from March 9 [“A sea change in boating technology”]. I had no idea boats today could drive themselves. Also, your profile February 17 on John Smith, (“The Godfather of Atlanta’s hi-tech community”) was well written. I know John personally, and your story captured his essence.
Note: Finally, provide one or two relevant links to help the reporter learn more about your business.
Here is more information on the process behind Acme Styles. And here are several testimonials from happy shoppers.
Thanks, [first name of reporter], and please let me know if you have questions.
- Your first name
- Email signature
Let’s recap. The email opens with a quick “elevator pitch” about your business. Then you explain why you deserve coverage and explain how your business is part of a new trend. Next, you reference two of the reporter’s previous stories and why you liked them. Finally, you provide 1-2 “call-to-action” links that strengthen your case.
Again, there’s still no guarantee the reporter answers. But your pitch is strong, full of useful information and shows you respect the reporter’s time and talents. Wait two business days and if you receive no response, reply back to your email and write, “Hi [first name of reporter], please let me know you saw my email from [day of the week] about my company, [name of company]. Thanks so much.”
Then, wait another two days. If you don’t receive a response to your follow-up message, consider calling the reporter at his/her desk. Be ready with talking points about your business and perhaps to invite the reporter to an upcoming event that will showcase your product/service.
Any other questions on pitching the press?
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