TV Reporter Shares the Secrets to Getting Covered on the News
Do you have a great idea for a story, but no clue how to get it in the news? Are you tired of pitching press releases the news media simply ignores?
After twenty years of beating the street as a TV reporter, I have a scoop for you: the media needs good stories. But most stories are pitched so poorly, they are lost in the blizzard of faxes that blanket every newsroom.
So, here are five steps to increase your chances of getting covered that even some PR pros don't know:
1) BE UNUSUAL
The old adage about "Man bites dog" still holds true. The news doesn't cover what's normal. We cover the abnormal.
PR whiz Carolyn Alvey knew this when she was trying to raise money for a charity several years ago. Instead of holding a garage sale, she sent out a press release announcing a "Celebrity Garage Sale." Everything from Bob Hope's old golf clubs to Roger Staubach's long-neglected neckties were for sale. By making an ordinary garage sale extraordinary, the media was instantly sold on the story.
2) BE VISUAL
Reporters tell stories with pictures. If the pictures aren't there, chances are the reporters won't be either.
Even the most non-visual story can be made visual if you're creative. A dog biscuit business? Boring. A dog birthday party complete with doggie guests and party hats? Now you're barking up the right tree.
That's what Michelle Lamont did to boost her dog biscuit bakery. She began baking huge dog biscuit birthday cakes and inviting the media to cover the parties. She's had reporters hounding her for stories ever since.
3) CHOOSE THE RIGHT REPORTER
Perhaps the most common mistake even some PR pros make is trying to sell a good story to the wrong person. Most reporters have a specialty, like "crime" or "business."
So, seek out the reporter who will have the most to benefit from your story. Start studying the news. Before you call a TV station or try and pitch the paper, become familiar with a reporter's work. Don't try and sell an investigative story to a reporter who covers entertainment.
4) WRITE LIKE A REPORTER
If I were going to send a press release to a reporter, I'd write the kind of headline that a newspaper would run. And I'd make the rest of the release so conversational that a TV anchor could read it right on the air.
Why is this so important? A major market newsroom gets hundreds of press releases every day. Often the decision on whether to cover your story is made in a matter of seconds. Many times that well-crafted sentence in the third paragraph of your press release is never read.
5) WAIT FOR A SLOW NEWS DAY
The holidays are the slowest "news times" of the year. When government offices are closed, so are most of our sources. Take advantage of it.
In fact, take out your calendar and begin circling government holidays. If the government isn't making news, we reporters are scrambling to find something to cover. Pitch even an average story on a day when the media is starving for news, and you're much more likely to get coverage.
There you go. Now you're armed with knowledge that even some well-paid public relations professionals don't practice. If your idea is unique, visual, and pitched to the right person when the supply of news is running thin, you're in!
Jeff Crilley is an Emmy Award Winning Reporter and author of Free Publicity - A TV Reporter Shares the Secrets for Getting Covered on the News. It's available at bookstores everywhere or online at www.jeffcrilley.com
Media Relations: How to Get Your Letter to the Editor Published
You may remember Forrest Gump's Vietnam pal ? the one who grew up shrimp farming and was fond of listing the dishes he used to make. "Pepper shrimp," he started, gearing up for his lengthy monotone monologue. "Shrimp soup. Shrimp stew. Shrimp salad. Shrimp and potatoes. Shrimp burger."
Promote Your Products With A Press Release
Writing an effective press release is a way to draw attention to the products you sell and do so at a local level, nationwide and even get internationally. You don't need to be a writer, but you need to clarify exactly what it is you are selling.
Managers: Get Real, Please!
Personnel mentions in the newspaper and product plugs on radio hardly qualify as an adequate return on your public relations dollar, and you probably know it!
How To Write A Press Release
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How To Get Zero Cost Publicity For Your Business Part 2
This is the ending to my previous article, How to get no cost publicity for your business. Some other options include signature files, joint ventures, free for all links, informational articles, webrings, and giveaways.
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You can have dozens of marvelous ideas to get free publicity, but nothing will happen unless you pick up the phone and call a reporter.
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A great way to celebrate your achievements and capitalize on your successes is to share them with your clients, members, community leaders, and other influential decisionmakers. But how can you do that without sounding like you are bragging?
Starting A Publicity Program
Successful buisnesses know that media attention reaches consumers better than advertising can. A feature story on a start-up's new product or service, for example, can send the business into a new stage of growth. Publicity can help bring your business greater visiblity and success. Publicity lets the public know you exist and creates crediblity and good will. That makes customers and prospects more receptive to your products and services.
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If you're like most publicity seekers, you probably think oneproject at a time. You've got a new product coming out in April,so you send out a release in March. You've hired a new executive,you'll put out a release when she's on board, etc.
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When most people think of media relations, they think of press releases. To be sure, writing and distributing them is one of the most important parts of the job. But press releases may be the most overused tool in the media professional's arsenal to the detriment of other tools that might have greater results.
Using Publicity As A Creative Marketing Tool
Publicity is an important and often overlooked tool of creative selling; and a more cost-effective way of reaching your target audience than advertising. With the inherent third-party endorsement of the media implied in every editorial story, a news or feature article in a newspaper, magazine, or on television or radio, is an infinitely more credibly-perceived communications message than an ad or commercial. Publicists less frequently are favored with hard news stories. They are more often tasked with getting "softer" news and feature stories on-air or in print. Here are some techniques involving creative conceptualization and application ? what I call CREATIVE FORMATTING ? and they work very effectively when carefully thought-through and constructed.
Celebrities Cant Have It Both Ways
Corporations are willing to pay substantial amounts of money to prominent personalities so that consumers will relate the brand with their favorite star, and thus will be more likely to buy the product. The buying public imparts credibility to the celebrity because of his or her charisma as well as the credibility that comes with prominence in the media. The power of someone's personality also entails risks for the brand with which they are associated, because any controversial behavior may reflect badly on the product. This has become an especially frequent problem in recent times.
Right PR Empowers a Manager
Business, non-profit and association managers are in a stronger position to succeed when they use their public relations resources in a way that alters individual perception leading to changed external stakeholder behavior.
Attention PR Shoppers!
As a business, non-profit or association manager, what do you want?
Keep The Publicity Machine Rolling with Reprints
More than half of America skips the Super Bowl, the nation's most-watched TV event. So it stands to reason that not all your prospects will see your publicity, even if you're on 60 Minutes and Oprah. Create a strategy to use your publicity proactively to reach and impress everyone with it. Here's how?
How to Get $1000 worth of Advertising for $60
©2004 Jeffrey Dobkin
Writing a Press Release: How to Write Quotes
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A Winning Public Relations Game Plan
You want to sell your products or services, and that means good money management, top quality products or services, and hard work on your part. But, for REAL success, the icing on the cake is public relations.
How to Write News Releases that Get Noticed
What do you do with junk mail? Are you like me? I toss this stuff without opening it ? unless I see some benefit. Publication editors do the same. They toss news releases that don't demonstrate a benefit to their audience.
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