This step is all about approaching the media. It's the fun bit!
We’ll take you through the etiquette of contacting the media to give you the best chance of success, we’ll show you how to find the right journalists that write about events.
Some of the contacts may be on the media list we gave you when you first signed up, so make sure you check that list before you start your research.
We’ll also teach you about the different types of media, how they operate and we’ll prepare you for any interviews you might have.
Once you’ve worked through this step, you will be ready to go out to the media.
TYPES OF MEDIA
There are various types of media and each type works slightly differently.
Print and online media tend to have a writer that looks after a particular section or topic eg health, technology, entertainment, food & drink, beauty – the list goes on, so that’s the person to contact about your event.
They also have specific writers that write the events sections and list what events are coming up locally. Only the titles local to your event will be interested, ie a Sydney publication will not write about an event happening in Perth.
Radio stations are broken up into programs and each program will have one or two producers that look after the entire show.
There are two types of radio program. The first is talkback where the presenters discuss topics at length and bring experts on to the show and invite listeners to call in with their opinions.
The second is music based with light chat in between songs. These chats topics are often based on pop culture like discussing the latest episode of The Bachelor or celebrity gossip, so you’re better off looking at talkback for events.
You will find there are segments within programs that cover certain topics eg food & drink, technology, health & wellness, so if your event relates to a topic, it makes sense to find that segment and contact them as they are more likely to talk about your event.
TV shows as a rule are unlikely to cover your event before it takes place, but you might get coverage if you invite them to come to the event, especially if you can find a news angle.
You also need to be aware of the timelines that media work to. All media work to lead times but not all their lead times are the same.
Monthly magazines are known as long lead publications because their lead times are three months – this means that they write their stories and send the issue to print three months before it hits the shelves. It follows that you will need to send your event info to these publications over three months ahead of when you ideally want it to appear.
Weekly magazines and newspaper supplements are known as medium lead as their lead times are approximately six weeks.
Newspapers are short lead as they turn stories around in a matter of days, however the sections that cover events are planned and written a couple of weeks in advance.
Radio, TV and online are considered immediate lead because they broadcast stories in a matter of hours however you need to send your info to the experts at least a week in advance of when they will be appearing on the show.
Now we need to work on building your media list. Refer back to the first worksheet you filled in when you outlined your target audience.
Now think about what they are reading, watching and listening to as this tells us which media you need to approach to get your event into.
When you signed up, you got a link to a media list – view it, copy the media you think are right for you and paste them into a blank excel spreadsheet to start a working document you can update as you go.
The list will be updated regularly, so don’t forget to go back to the link and check for any changes before you begin an outreach.
HOW TO FIND NEW MEDIA CONTACTS
So what if not all of the media you want to get into are on the list we’ve given you? Well we’ll quickly show you how to find your own contacts.
There are many online magazines/websites like Time Out, Broadsheet and Concrete Playground that focus on informing their audience on what events are coming up in their city. Look for the 'contact us' or 'about' pages to find their contact details.
Most of the weekend papers run planner and what’s on sections. Often these list an email address to send your event info to, so grab a copy and have a look.
A lot of monthly magazines run a ‘the month ahead’ page early on in each edition. If the contact details are not listed, contact the editorial assistant or editorial coordinator (same thing!) and ask. Their details are usually in the front of the mag.
For radio and TV, you can call the switchdesk for the station and ask for the email address of the producers on each program or the expert that runs the segment on your topic (eg tech, food & drink, health etc).
Don’t forget to add the local media to your list too. Again, look for the planner sections and see if there are contact details listed there.
HOW TO CONTACT THE MEDIA
Most journalists expect to get a pitch via email these days, however you can't just email a journalist your media release on its own and say ‘please see attached’.
You need to include a ‘pitch’ or a ‘sell’ with the release. You need to tell them why you think the event would work for their listings.
Never send out a bulk email cc’ing or even bcc’ing everyone. They will know that you simply blasted it out to everyone you could think of and they won’t respond well to that. You need to contact each person individually.
SENDING YOUR EMAIL TIPS
- Use the journalist’s first name if you have it.
- Get to the point quickly. They really might not read past the first few lines, so you need to grab their attention fast.
- Keep it short and punchy. Don’t just cut and paste your fact sheet into the email. Pick out the highlights and explain why it’s interesting to their audience.
- Attach the media release to the email and direct them to it for more information.
- You can also attach some images as sometimes this can help as the journalist can see what it might look like on the page.
- Include a link to a Dropbox folder with all the images to choose from (it’s a good idea to use bit.ly to create a shorter link that you can customise).
- Be friendly but professional.
- Remember to include your contact details and how best to get hold of you if they want more information.
This is your chance to hook them in and leave them excited to learn more.
What you put in the subject line can be the difference between the journalist reading your email and deleting it without even opening it, so spend some time on this.
Think about what makes your event special and lead with that – who’s your headline act, what unusual thing will people be able to sample, who is the event for? Eg ‘vintage lovers will go nuts for this event’; ‘100 craft beers under one roof’; ‘Never eaten green ants? Well now’s your chance!’
Download the pitch email template and we’ll walk you through what you need to do.
Once you get hold of your contact, either by phone or via email, keep track of who said what by recording it in the status column on your media list.
Give contacts a chance to reply, but if you haven’t heard anything back for 72 hours, then you should follow up with the journalist by email to see if they are interested.
However, there is a big difference between being persistent and being a pain! Never send more than two follow up emails. If you haven’t heard back after that, you can assume they are not interested and you should move on.
Remember to contact the journalist that wrote the story to say thank you.It can go a long way to making you a memorable contact and one they’d be happy to work with again. They may even reach out to you next time they write a story on your topic.
Journalists rely on social media to promote their own content, so it’s also important to share their coverage on your social channels. Also be sure to shout-out the writer and publication by tagging their relevant handles!
There are a number of handy tools that PRs use that you might want to consider using too.
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a popular sourcing service for the English-speaking world. It connects journalists and bloggers with relevant expert sources. It sends out alerts every day from reporters looking for content for their stories.
Click here to set up
It’s a call out service that media use when they are looking for story content. There are often call outs for small business owners and entrepreneurs to share their stories.
You can sign up to get their alerts for free. You can also put yourself forward as an expert so that when a journalist searches for a person to speak on your topic, your name comes up.
Click here to set up
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