Some of us here at EMSI remember when color television and microwave ovens were the hot new technologies. We were talking about that recently, and trying to remember how we got anything done before cell phones, websites and email.
In the early days of my business (it’s going on 23 years) we relied a great deal on our personal contacts in the media. We’d give them a call and, if they were at their desk, they’d answer the phone. Today, you need an office number and a cell phone number but, really, they’d rather you make your pitch in writing so they can consider it at their convenience.
Today at EMSI, we straddle both worlds. Yes, we do still telephone some media contacts – but only after we’ve emailed our pitches to them and thousands of other journalists, talk show hosts and producers.
What does all of this mean to you? If you’re promoting yourself, your product, company or book, it’s important to consider the changes and make sure you’ve adapted your strategies accordingly.
Here are some suggestions.
- Email levels the playing field. I love email because it opens the doors to all sorts of people most of us didn’t have a prayer of reaching 25 years ago. Back then, if you didn’t have a direct number and a way to get past secretaries and receptionists, your chances of at least getting your pitch heard were minimal. Email gets you in the door. The downside is, if you can’t craft a brief, compelling subject line, and if you’re writing isn’t clear and professional, you’ve lost the advantage. The means of engagement are now mostly through the written word, so be sure you craft your emails carefully. But do follow up with an old-fashioned phone call!
- Because of the digital age, traditional media have changed. It may sound like I’m stating the obvious, but how that affects you may not be so evident. Newspapers and radio stations are operating with less staff than they did just five years ago. That means the hosts, producers, editors and reporters screening emails are much busier, moving more quickly, and far less patient. If you want to get their attention, you need a headline that grabs their interest immediately. It should be clear, catchy, and with language that’s easily understood. The text of your pitch should be to the point: a brief description of a newsy topic or a problem their audience may have and the valuable information or insights you can contribute. Remember, there are also fewer talk radio shows today, and fewer newspapers, so more people are competing for less time and space.
- Media follow the media. Now, more than ever before, one TV, radio or print interview is likely to be heard or seen by far more people than the original audience. There are a few reasons for that. One is that, on talk radio, 50 to 75 percent of the shows are syndicated. Your interview with the host in Atlanta may be broadcast on stations in Duluth, Phoenix, Hoboken or any of the hundreds of others that carry the program. Newspaper and news websites pass around stories like infectious diseases. (I wish I could think of a happier metaphor because that’s definitely a good thing!) TV and radio hosts see them and get ideas for their own shows. Just last week, one of our clients got an interview on a big radio show because a host saw the newspaper article we wrote for her. And, of course, when you share links to your interviews and articles on your website, you not only enhance your credibility, you expand the audience that much more.
There’s a lot I miss about the good old days, but I’m glad there’s more opportunity now for anyone at all to be heard. Sure, that also means there are more voices clamoring for attention, but if you know how to stand out from the crowd, you have a big advantage.
Read More About Pitching The Media on Biznik