The New Rules for Pitching the Media
Reporters are always looking for good stories but are also getting pitched all day every day. To get their attention, you have to make it as easy as possible for them to work with you. That starts with understanding that reporters ONLY want to interact with you if you have a story so don’t forward them a cute cat video.
Make it a Video News Release
Video is king. Even newspapers are running video with their stories, especially on their social media sites. Your odds of getting coverage increase substantially when you include short (Less than a minute) videos. News releases with video get 55% more viewers according to a study by REELSEO.com.
Don’t be Annoying
Work to develop a relationship with at least one reporter from every news outlet in your area. Make a point NOT to send them a constant stream of pitches or they will tune you out. Think quality over quantity.
Rules on Sending a Local Release
When sending a local release out, send it to one reporter at a time starting with the reporter who has covered you the most. You want them to know you are giving them first shot to the story.
If they pass, move to the next reporter.
Rules on Sending a National Release
Getting a national media hit is highly valuable. Because it’s so valuable, reporters on the national level are swamped with pitches. It’s super-competitive and challenging to break into that level. One way around is to leverage your local hits into national hits. For instance, if you’re rolling out a website on how to respond to an active shooter, make sure you have screen captures of all of your local media hits that you can put on your site.
Include links to these pages in your national releases. The more local media hits you have, the more comfortable a national reporter will be in contacting you.
A National List of Local Hits
Often, working with a publicist, you can get hundreds of hits on local media outlets around the country. For instance, if a reporter sees that your active shooter story is on the ABC affiliate in Pittsburgh, NBC Miami, CBS Los Angeles, and Fox New York City, that tells the reporter you are getting coverage.
Do not get upset if you don’t get a hit. There are a lot of reasons for that. For instance, I had a huge profile scheduled with the local ABC affiliate in Tampa Bay. They were going to do a 7-minute bio/profile on me. Literally hours before they were to arrive at my school, a Tampa Bay Buc hurt his back. They turned their van around and drove to the stadium instead. I never got the profile. That’s just the way media works. You can’t take it personally, but instead be understanding and helpful.
If you do get the story, share the links and copy the reporter on your shares so he/she can see you’re helping them get the story out. The more media savvy you seem to be, the more comfortable the media will be for working with you.
Rules on Contacting a Reporter
Email is their preferred delivery method so stick to it. If you call, they will tell you to send it in an email. Calls are no longer as useful or welcome. The reporter knows you want publicity and doesn’t like spending her day fielding thinly disguised phone pitches from company reps trying to get free exposure.
The New Phone Call
Twitter and Facebook are the new phones. Twitter is the most used of the two, but use both.
Follow reporters on Twitter and make a note of what they like and how they work and their lifestyle. Make a file on each reporter with any relevant background that you can use to create a stronger connection.
Sample Local Release [Numbers notes are below the release]
Hey or Hi FIRST NAME,
Here’s a story for you. It’s a preview of an upcoming event that you can find below.  I have a video for it as well.  Feel free to use as is, or edit to your liking. Let me know if you want me to send any individual clips.  I’ll also send you a separate event invite in case you want to attend and cover it.  I know that your viewers will appreciate learning how families can gain control of bullying.  So feel free to bring Sally and Joey.  Also, I can introduce you to John Graden. He’s the anti-bully expert who helps your audience deal with bullying at school and work.  Anyway, we can talk about that at the event or when we get the chance.
Here are the video and preview. 
- [This tells the reporter he/she may get two stories out of this; the preview and the event. That is a welcome message.]
- [YAY! The reporter doesn’t have to leave the office and coordinate a remote shoot team.]
- [This relays that you understand how the editing process works and you’re making it easier for the reporter.]
- [This is a Google calendar event invite file that automatically enters the info on their calendar. NOTE: 99% of reporters use Google. Get to know how to send Google calendar event invites.]
- [This tells the reporter that you are focused on their audience, not your agenda.]
- [You learned on Twitter that Sally and Joey are the reporter’s kids.]
- [Here’s a chance to speak with a national expert.]
- [Include the release in the body of the email rather than attaching it. Make it all one read.]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Anti-Bullying Expert to Present Seminar for Families
Tampa Bay, FL – Bullying is not going away, yet many families do not have a plan to deal with it. That’s according to anti-bullying expert and author John Graden. Graden will be teaching a seminar that will help families learn how to prevent and take control of any bullying situation. The 90-minute seminar starts at 11 am Saturday, November 22nd, at the Palm Harbor Public Library. [Always lead with Who, What, Where, When, Why]
VIDEO 1 link
VIDEO 2 link
VIDEO 3 link
Editable Video Package link
John Graden Info [website, video, email, and phone.]