Let me guess: you've been busting your butt sending pitches out right and left, you've been writing press releases and emails constantly but you're still not getting press. And now you're feeling stuck. Trust me we've all been there, even us PR pros. So how can you shift that press energy and "magnetize" publicity to your brand? Often it's not "us" or our brand story that's holding us back, it's some strategy issues that are easily resolved. To be sure you take care of those press obstacles once and for all I have created a bit of a "Not getting press, try this" checklist for you. Before you give up hope on your next pitch, be sure you're doing these things first...
YOU ARE NOT PITCHING OR FOLLOWING UP ENOUGH:
Here's the deal: if you tell me that you're not getting press in say, Redbook Magazine, and I ask you when the last time you pitched Redbook was and you say October, I know why you're not getting press. You're not pitching enough. The same is true for any other type of outlet you're reaching out to. If you're sure you're a good fit for a media outlet (TV, online, magazine) and you're only pitching them once a quarter they most likely don't even remember you're pitching them. Sure, there's a chance you're in their file for future reference but let's not take any chances. I'd rather you take a look at your Media Outreach Tracking sheet (don't have one? Use this template) and be able to tell me that, "YES, I've made recent contact (within the past month) with all of my target media.
The other half of that equation is the follow-up. Just like blending in your foundation or other makeup, always follow-up more than you think necessary. I like to give it a "3 strikes and then you're out" rule and I never let myself think a pitch is complete until I've given them three more follow ups.
YOUR PITCH HAS NO CALL TO ACTION OR "ASK"
Because I work at Tin Shingle I have the opportunity to get a first hand look at several pitches that entrepreneurs and small business owners like you write, neary every week if not every day. Here's what I can tell you: More than half of them are long and filled with information about the business or business owner, but their "here's why I'm writing you" isn't obvious or clear, at least not within the first few sentences. And here's the thing: no one wants to read beyond the first few sentences to hunt for your hook or your "ask".
No matter how important your story is or how much you have to say about yourself and your business, the recipient of your pitch email (or phone call) needs to be able discern the reason for your outreach within moments of opening your email. Too often, the call to action or ask is hidden lines - even paragraphs - down in the email. Other times the pitch isn't a pitch at all, it's simply an essay about a business. The sender assumes the press will know what to do with it. Guess what, that's not their job! You need to tell them who you are and why you're writing them. You need to include the "I'd love to do XYZ for you" or "I am hoping to be included XYZ" or "I have X to offer you for Y".
Don't be shy: Share your value, tell them what you can do for them and why you're writing them. Ask and you shall receive! Don't ask and you shall receive a delete!
YOU WON'T LEAVE YOUR PITCHING "COMFORT ZONE"
How do you prefer to pitch the press, by phone or email? I'm going to bet that you said email, and if I was asked the same question I'd answer the same way. Emails are easier; it's less stressful; and it's a bit more in your control. Phone calls, aka "smile and dial" pitches, can be scary. They're live! Anything can happen! We have to talk to a real person on the other line, one who we do not know and most likely doesn't entirely want to hear from us - at least initially. So we avoid the phone. But what if you're avoiding calling a magazine editor or TV newsdesk that you've been pitching regularly and getting no where with?
Well then my friends, you have to pick up the phone. You have to get out of your pitching comfort zone and try reaching out on the phone. Listen, I know this can be scary. I know that you'd rather email, but I also know that connecting on the phone can, well, connect you to someone faster than an email ever will. And I also know from experience that it can lead to long term relationships and conversations that lead to a better understanding in terms of who you are and what you have to offer this press outlet.
So if you aren't hearing back on a pitch and you've tried a few times, I want you to pick up the phone! Get your script ready (I make one that has bullets that I can refer to if I get stage fright) and smile and dial! Challenge yourself! Realize the worst case scenario isn't that bad, and realize the reward could be that elusive press that you're desperately trying to land.
Pick up that phone, make that pitch and report back! After all, outside of your comfort zone tends to be where all the good stuff you want is!