We are delighted to invite Claire Winter from “Making Words Come Alive” to share her best PR tips for small businesses. Claire, a former journalist for 20yrs and editor of “Thames Valley East Families Magazine” for 8yrs is perfectly placed to guide us. Here is what Claire had to say:
Reaching out to the press may sound daunting, but it has never been easier to make contact with journalists and pitch them a story or feature, here are my top tips on how to do it.
1. Do your Research. Make sure you find out as much as you can about the publications or websites you are trying to pitch to. What is the name of the editor/ journalist? How often do they go to print? What is their publishing schedule, what themes to they have? And most importantly when is their press deadline.
2. Content is King. You need to pitch an idea that is news and headline worthy. What are you doing that is interesting? Are you launching a new business, product or service? Is there something unique or unusual that you offer? If they are a local newspaper, they will have a separate news desk that will be looking for interesting local stories.
3. What is your hook? This is the top line or interesting headline that will make the journalist (and eventually their readers) interested in you. Every good story or feature should have this.
4. Think like a journalist. What would interest them and their readers? What is the style of their publication or website? Do they write long features and use case studies? Or do they prefer short, snappy copy that gives their readers useful advice and ideas?
5. Keep it short. Like many of us, journalists are time poor and always working towards the next deadline. Keep your press releases short and snappy; they will contact you if they need more details.
6. Make it easy for them. Many small publications don’t have their picture desk or photographer, put hi-res images and logos in a Dropbox or Google drive for them. Never clog up their inbox by sending them large files.
7. Use social media. Use Twitter to follow the journalists or media organisations you want to contact. The hashtag #journorequest is a great hashtag to search, because it is journalists looking for contributors to a story or feature. Don’t waste their time by getting in touch for something that isn’t relevant though!
8. Be helpful. Manners go a long way, don’t pester journalists, but be helpful if they contact you. Make sure you get back to them quickly if they request further information or images.
9. Don’t give up. Don’t get disheartened if your feature doesn’t get used or it is dropped it may be used at a later date. If you are helpful and have great ideas, journalists will come back to you when they need a quote or opinion about your area of expertise.
10. Stay focussed on your key message. Remember to be resilient, approachable and passionate – the rest should follow.