Recently, I was given the opportunity to speak at the MPI Minnesota April monthly meeting and roundtable discussion. Held at the Downtown Minneapolis Hyatt Regency Hotel, I joined over a hundred MPI members for breakfast and a bit of networking.
My roundtable topic was "Meeting Media Coverage- How to Promote Your Organization" and over the course of three sessions one thing became clear- there should be more sessions like this. Those who attended my table had great questions and I could have chatted with them all afternoon.
Approaching media can be intimidating. In most cases you don't know how to pitch a story or write a press release because it's an added task to the list of many others that need attention on a daily basis. Before you know it, it's been a few months and that recent story has lost its importance so you give up. You then tell yourself you'll get around to it faster the next time there's something to share. Sound familiar?
No worries, you are not the only one in this situation. Not everyone has a budget to hire a p.r. agency and we're understanding of that. To help you out I've included some tips below that I shared with my roundtables.
1. Go back to the basics. Before writing a press release or pitch email, begin with outlining what it is you want to say. Look at it from an outsider's perspective and be sure your message answers the following questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. The most important details should be condensed and fit into that first paragraph as best as possible.
2. Now that you know what you're communicating, do a little research on format. This is the step that many people get hung up on because they're concerned they're going to do it wrong. Yes there are bad press releases but if you've already planned what your message is going to be and it's appropriate for the person you plan to send it to, you're already half-way done.
3. Once you have your message written, research your target's website to find the best person to receive it. Is there an editor of a particular section that fits you best? If not, is there a general editor or web editor email address available? Do some digging and you'll save yourself time in the long run.
4. Before hitting send, make sure you spellcheck and fact-check your document one last time. Be sure your email is attached and/or copied in the body of your email. The document can be in Microsoft Word or a PDF, either one is fine.
5. Relax. You may not get a response but if there are questions, know that the editor will contact you for follow up information.
As with anything, there are a few extras that are a nice bonus to include:
Links to your website and those of anything else mentioned
A quote or two from someone at your organization
A brief overview of your organization
Keep those things in mind and you'll be a pro at this in no time!
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