Selling in your stories

Selling your story to the press is a key skill for any PR person worth their salt. The way you go about this can make the difference between a rude rebuttal and getting the coverage you want. Here are some top tips for getting it right.

1. Know your media

Before you pitch a story to the press, you need to understand the media you’re approaching; who they are; what they want and the type of pressure on them.

You can’t pitch journalists or bloggers effectively if you don’t know what they are interested in and like to write about. Take the time to look at the type of stories that they write and decide how you can package your story to meet their needs.

If your story is about school improvement and the journalist you’re approaching is particularly interested in individual student stories, you need to ensure that you include a student story in your pitch.

Be considerate about when they’re likely to be too busy to take your call. National journalists, for example, usually have editorial meetings at 10:30am and are on deadline at around 4pm. They do not appreciate calls at these times.

2. Standing out from the crowd

Journalists can receive 100 e-mails or more every day from PR people. This is why the pitch you send needs to be brief, clear and to the point. A great subject line is very important too.

Remember what they want – great stories that appeal to their readers!

For example, an announcement about a promotion within Company X is unlikely to be of interest unless it means that more jobs will be created as a result.

3. If you don’t use the phone for selling then you’re not telling!

With journalists receiving so many e-mails each day, you can’t become reliant on e-mail communication to get your story picked up.

If you have researched your media well and you are confident in your story, the phone call will be much easier.

You need to get straight to the point with the journalist over the phone. Give them a quick snapshot of the story and offer research, spokespeople and/or photos if you have them.

4. Follow-up

Journalists do not appreciate a phone call that is just to ask if they’re going to use a story or press release.

Follow-up your pitch with additional information for the journalist or an extra interviewee. If your story is relating to women’s sport, for example, you might have picked up on a survey of women’s perceptions of sport in the news that would provide the journalist with the hook they need to write an article on your news.

I hope you have found these tips useful. If you have any more ideas or have feedback on the ideas above, please let me know.

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  • About the Author

    My focus is on achieving great coverage for our clients and the best part of my day is talking with journalists and bloggers. I am the company’s education blogger expert and spend a lot of my time researching what it is that makes them tick. My background in teaching helps me to think from a teacher’s perspective when developing PR ideas and writing for our clients in the education sector. Outside of work I like to run, play the piano and have fun with my kids.

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