Pitching a national magazine like Entrepreneur Magazine can intimidate even the most seasoned PR professionals. So what is a scrappy, do-it-yourself business owner to do if he or she wants to get some national publicity in hopes of growing brand awareness and income?
Fortunately, it’s not rocket science. You can learn to pitch like a PR professional with a few basic PR pointers, some timely feedback and a little chutzpah!
Here are 8 tips on how you can prepare for and pitch reporters with national audiences like Entrepreneur Magazine:
- Define your Key Message: ask yourself what makes you special, unique and memorable to customers. Is there something idiosyncratic in how you serve customers that really sets you apart from the competition? Is it a marketing strategy that has been really successful at finding new customers? Don’t be shy about asking your customers and vendors for ideas. Sometimes the best ideas come from outside observers!
- News Peg: it’s what makes your story interesting to a mass audience. It’s not enough to be an interesting business. It helps if you can make a case that you represent a larger trend. For instance, an Austin real estate broker called Give Realty donates 25% of all home sales commissions to charities and recently passing $250,000 in total donations in just five years. A news peg for Entrepreneur Magazine might be in relation to the increasing popularity of social good companies that donate a percentage of proceeds to charities in hopes of making the world a better place while gaining a competitive market advantage. In other words, tie your company to a larger story trend and you just mind find yourself featured in the news.
- Eye-Catching Subject or Headline: whether you write a press release or just an email news pitch, take time to come up with 5-10 different headlines that could help hook the attention of a journalist. Often the success or failure of pitches comes down to how effective the subject or headline is at conveying the core idea and why it’s of particular relevance to a given journalist. For instance, if you run a food truck specializing in doggie treats then you would be wise to discover the names of other pet food trucks are roaming the parks and streets of American cities and make mention of the new movement toward high-end pet treats sold out of food trucks. The key is to get your business mentioned along with several others so that all of you share in the media love.
- KISS Principle: the old adage of “keep it simple stupid” has perhaps never been as apropos as it is for pitching a busy journalists or reporter. Make that doubly so for a journalist at Entrepreneur Magazine! When pitching, stick to the facts and avoid rambling sentences. Be sure you answer the Who, What, Where and Why of your story as concisely as possible. But be careful not to omit key facts in your search for brevity. You can always give the journalist a teaser in the email and tell them you have copied more information below your signature line or attached a press release.
- Persistence Pays Off: it pays to be persistent when pitching national outlets like Entrepreneur. You may not win coverage for your business the first time around but keep in touch with occasional news updates to let an Entrepreneur journalist you’re still around and willing to be a resource for an article. After each pitch, be sure to follow-up with either a phone call (assuming you have a phone number to call) or a second email. Be polite with your follow-ups, and above all don’t be a pest and annoy them with a rash of emails and phone calls.
- Be Responsive: if you finally do get the attention of an Entrepreneur writer and are asked to schedule a phone interview, be sure to respond immediately. Journalists are often working against a deadline so if you procrastinate in responding then you could lose out on your golden opportunity for national publicity.
- Show Appreciation: if you do end up getting an interview that leads to a mention in Entrepreneur, then don’t forget to thank the reporter. Don’t send a gift. There are rules forbidding most journalists from credible news outlets from accepting gifts. Simple gratitude goes a long way.
- Stay in Touch: as mentioned above, keeping in touch with a national reporter is an easy way to always be under consideration for future stories. Reporters are no different than the average consumer in that they know what they like and tend to show loyalty to what has helped them in the past. You still need to follow the steps above to make sure you have compelling news to share but as long as you are providing the reporter with a good product, then there’s a better chance you will get picked again.
The good news is you don’t have to be a media expert to get national media coverage from outlets like Entrepreneur Magazine. You just passionate about your business and follow the steps outlined above.
While following these steps is not guaranteed to get you mentioned in Entrepreneur, it significantly improves your chances. One thing I know for certain is very few businesses get media mentions in national news by doing no media outreach at all.
For a list of media contacts at national magazines like Entrepreneur, please visit our free online news media database called MyLocalReporter. Click “Start Now” and then search based on “National” and you’ll be rewarded with contacts from such magazines as Entrepreneur, Inc., Wired and the Wall Street Journal.
About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded an Austin tech PR agency for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. To contact Dave directly about the PR over Coffee blog, please email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.