How to Get Coverage
We have had a lot of news to get out there lately. In fact, if I never hear the word “pitch” again it will be too soon. Alas, that’s a big part of our job and I’ll be pitching away again just as soon as I hit post. One thing has stood out to me in this latest cycle of media frenzy: it’s not about the relationships you have, it’s about telling a good story.
Most people reading this will say “well duh, Starr.” But think about it. When a prospective client comes to us they always want to know what media relationships we have, and the more names we drop – Walt Mossberg, Ed Baig, David Pogue, Eric Zeman, Sascha Segan (I could go on and on, trust me) – the higher we go on the consideration list. But I promise you, we wouldn’t have those relationships if we didn’t feed them with good stories, and if we didn’t know when a story wasn’t good enough. In that sense, to me, it’s not as important what relationships we currently have as it is if we know how to build relationships with the right people. If I send a crappy story to Walt I can tell you it doesn’t matter how often we’ve talked in the past, he’s not going to respond. It’s that simple.
So the better question for prospective clients to ask would be “Do you know how to build relationships?” Yep, we do. It’s all about telling good stories.
What you need to get your story written:
– Something big, different, new, unique, timely; bonus points for integrating contention (Note: this is the part clients usually feel they have nailed – “new product!” “new way of doing this old thing!” “new company launch!” I would agree they have the beginning, but it’s usually not fully baked. Still, they tend to fall down on the below points much faster than in this area.)
– That something needs to be relevant to the person AND THE PUBLICATION being pitched (it’s all about the audience of the pub, truly). For instance, there are very few coverage possibilities for enterprise IT products (databases, storage) in business publications right now, unless you’re going public, are backed by industry heavyweights and/or have changed the face of IT as we know it. If that shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it. Your customers probably aren’t in that audience anyway. It’s our job to find the right places to pitch your story – it’s your job to trust us that we know what we’re talking about.
– Clear, real language needs to be used all over the place – jargon is a story killer, 100%. (Heed the LOLcat.)
– Analogies, examples, and people that will be references for you or your product are a MUST.
– Clients need to be on the same page with what the story is, and they need to deliver in the interview (we can help with our prep and media training, but at the end of the day you have to be able to tell your story)
– Visuals are a requirement. Every company needs to understand how to tell their story visually.
Any elements you would add? Let me know in the comments. And don’t just take my word for it – tons of reporters will give you this very same advice, including Ben Parr at Mashable who wrote this blog post on the subject last fall. (Ben, had to steal the pic you used for the post too – nothing wrong with spreading around a little LOLcat. ;-))