Media Relations 101 – Journalists want sources not pitches

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Media 101 | Journalists want sources not pitches

If you want more media coverage become a source.  Journalists want reliable, informed and credible sources. The one thing they don’t want is more pitches.

It is the first thing I explain to every entrepreneur. Traditional PR firms don’t tell them this.

Having been a journalist the first place I looked when I needed comment for a piece I was writing was my contacts book – not my inbox.  My inbox was full of people wanting me to help them whereas my contacts book was full of people that could help me.

Contacts book, not inbox

If you got in to my contacts book you were the first people I called when I needed something. My inbox was my last resort. I had between 5 – 10 subject matter experts I called on a range of topics.  Those in my inbox were fighting against tens or hundreds of others trying to persuade me they had something worth listening to.

Media Relations 101 - Journalists want sources not pitches

I suggest every entrepreneur I work with creates a media mailer I’ve created, based on the things that matter to journalists. It takes 15 minutes to fill in, 10 minutes to write a handwritten note and about 30 minutes to mail. Yes, you heard correctly.  Mail.

Mail, not e-mail

If you really want to capture a journalists attention then you need to mail them. Journalists receive between 100 and 500 emails every day. They receive (I’m guessing) less than 10 pieces of mail every day. Many won’t receive 10 per week.

Include a handwritten note, offering to help them in any way you can. With stories, for example, where your insight could add value for their reader. Resist the urge to pitch them – that will come in time. Provide them with a direct line of cellphone number [journalists work to tight deadlines and don’t want to have to deal with an agency gatekeeper to schedule an appointment]. Then follow up with a call.
Media Relations 101 - Journalists want sources not pitches

To find out how to become a media source and to get a copy of the COMMS.BARMedia Source Sheet template book a 15-minute appointment.