If you think it’s because those companies with the most exposure hired expensive PR firms, and have decided to mimic their tactics by emailing every single writer/magazine/website you can think of…you might want to save yourself some time.
Fact is, most media types get dozens (if not hundreds) of emails, and if you’re not doing a few key things right, they’ll go straight to the trash.
You have about fifteen seconds to make yourself stand out and get someone’s attention–and the sales pitch you’d use with a client isn’t going to cut it.
Here’s an email I got a few weeks ago:
Hi Yael. We just had a site redesign and have gotten 500 facebook likes for our consulting services. I thought you would want to write about us now, if you know anywhere high profile. We can pay for this service, if you get us in somewhere good. We really just want exposure.
- They’re sending me an email to cover their consulting services…something I’ve never covered. #FAIL
- They might be excited about their new website or facebook fan count–but strangers don’t really care.
- They’re sending me a pitch that’s not timely or relevant. It’s not a story idea; it’s a plug for their business.
- They’re asking me to double-dip, or get payment both from them and from a publication for the same article. That’s considered unethical by most writers—and the type of article they’re likely looking for is advertorial—something I couldn’t sneak by an editor worth her salt even if I wanted to.
So how can this consulting firm actually make me want to write about them?
Here’s the type of email I would have loved to receive instead.
Hi, Yael! I really liked your post last week on making difficult topics accessible, especially the part on weaving plot and character into somewhat dry topics to keep readers interested.
I was actually writing because, as you probably know, Pew Research Report just put out the State of the News Media, their annual report on the state of American journalism. If you were planning on covering this for (NAME OF WEBSITE), we’d love to help you put some context to the report and are available for interviews all week. I’ve attached some other relevant research and would be happy to explain the changes we’ve noticed in our consulting business that reflect some of the key findings in this report—and ones that don’t.
This email is a win.
- The person who wrote it actually knows who I am and what I cover.
- They know which reports have come out and where I’d write about them for, so clearly have their finger on the pulse.
- The story isn’t about their consulting firm, but would allow them to demonstrate their expertise, so everyone wins.
- They just made it incredibly easy for me to pitch a story to an editor by doing some background research for me.
This is one of several strategies I’ll be covering at the PR for Startups workshop I’ll be teaching in Minneapolis on April 15th. We’ll spend two hours This is one of several strategies I’ll be covering in an online video course, where I’ll be helping startups, consultants, marketers and entrepreneurs like you figure out how you can compete with businesses who have the budget to hire PR firms–and generate the media buzz you crave, all in just around 15-30 minutes a day.
We’ll also discuss:
- The top five ways to get your name in print–they’re not what you think
- what PR firms screw up all the time–and how you can do better
- why building relationships is far more important than one-hit wonders
- what you can realistically expect as a result of media coverage
- why your media strategy is completely wrong–and how to fix it
- what’s better than a press release, and more effective
- how to build a media list all of your own
- and last but not least, the talented Holden Page will spill all about getting into TechCrunch–which he did when he was a lot younger than you
The workshop will take place on April 15, 2:30-4:30 at CoCo Minneapolis. You don’t want to miss this, so make sure to sign up at http://prforstartups2013.eventbrite.com/ If you don’t live in the Twin Cities and wish you did, please leave a comment or zap me an email. I’m considering making this material available online–but only if there’s sufficient interest. But if you’re anywhere near Minneapolis, make sure to join us. Sign up at http://prforstartups2013.eventbrite.com/.
If you’re interested in the video course, please send $25 to me via Paypal at firstname.lastname@example.org for more.