When it comes to building a successful PR and marketing campaign, knowing how to build and pitch a press release is vital. At CCF Media we have been working closely with journalist and media professionals for over a decade, and in that time we’ve learnt a thing or two about what does (and doesn’t!) work when it comes to pitching a story or a product.
There is no magic formula to getting press coverage; we constantly evolve and develop our approach when pitching clients to national newspapers, magazine and tv shows. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach that wins every time, and having a static formula when pitching is the biggest mistake some other agencies make.
There are some fundamental things to remember when writing and pitching a successful press release to the national or local media, some of which we will delve into below. We’re industry experts and even we can’t make every single story fly; you’re at the mercy of a plethora of factors most of which are out of your control. But there are some solid pieces of advice we adhere to most of the time.
Know your subject
Before you even put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) make sure you know what you’re selling. After all, if you are selling an idea you should have a thorough understanding of not only what it is, but why it’s relevant and newsworthy. Are you trying to get some coverage for a skin care product? Make sure you know what it’s made of, where it comes from, how much it is, and where people can get it from.
Make it interesting
Your press release will not be the only story a journalist reads that day; to be honest it won’t be the only one they receive that hour. You have to stand out but also make your pitch interesting. What’s new, special or extraordinary about what you’re pitching?
Do your research
Is this idea new? Has it been done before? Don’t pitch an existing idea that made the papers a month or so ago. Have a look online and do some research before you approach anyone with a pitch.
Think outside the box
New ideas sell, old ideas don’t. It’s really that simple. Look at current trends and focus on how your product or service fits in. We’ve managed to repackage existing established treatments and turn them into something newsworthy, like the Puppet Facelift as an example.
Make it relevant
Make sure you’re pitching to the right publication. If your story is about lip fillers it’s not worth sending it to the Technology Editor of The Times. Think about what you’re sending and where – before you even start to write it.
Approach the right person
Make sure you email or call the right person. If you don’t know, ask. Don’t use a scattergun approach, it rarely works. It’s up to you to make contacts and approach the most suitable person at the publication, site or blog.
Know your audience
The media is a vast space. Do you want to engage with a local newspaper or Channel 4? Knowing your key audience is vital.
Sometimes people don’t reply to emails or calls. Sometimes commissioning editors are too busy to chase you. Whatever the circumstances you must remain polite, bee when faced with feedback or news you’re not happy about. Stories get commissioned then dropped the night before print – that’s life. Be prepared to say thank you and just move on to the next project, there will be one – if you act professionally and politely.