Occasionally, people who have what seems like a wonderful message get zero attention from the press. They pitch their message to the print media, TV and radio, and post engaging content on social media and … crickets.
No one writes about them. TV and talk show hosts ignore them. And their only friends on Facebook are old high school and college buddies.
We’ve seen it happen a few times here at EMSI – thank goodness, not many! Why would the media not respond to a person with a powerful message, strong credentials and a product, service or book they believe in?
When our team sits down to analyze such situations, we usually find one of the following is to blame:
• Wrong time of the day or week. You may be sending your email at a bad time. The best time to send a media pitch is in the morning. Our campaign managers here at EMSI recommend sending by 7 a.m. for radio, by 8 a.m. for TV, and 9 to 10 a.m. for print. Don’t send your email on a weekend or at night, and don’t wait until Friday afternoon!
• Problem with the subject line. If your email subject line is a stopper, it’s likely no one will open your email. If you’re not getting any reaction, try a different one. We find that keeping them short helps – seven words, maximum. Make sure it’s to the point. For instance, if you own a dog-grooming business and want to share tips for pet owners, your subject line might read: Dog grooming tips. Avoid symbols in the subject line – question marks, hyphens, quotes and the like may get flagged by spam filters.
• Bad timing for your message. No one’s to blame; it’s just the message isn’t right for the media at this particular time. It may be the topic got a lot of attention in the past year or two and, without a current news hook to reawaken interest, journalists and show hosts are just, well, tired of it. This applies to a number of chronic problems in the world today that are both deserving of and in need of public attention, from child abuse to human trafficking.
• Your message is too advertorial. If it sounds like an advertisement, it’s likely getting forwarded to the advertising department – or deleted. Pitches to journalists and talk show hosts should offer valuable information that audiences need, and want: tips, insights and advice you can offer based on your expertise. Your book should be treated as a credential, not the focus of your pitch (unless, of course, you’re sending it to book reviewers).
• There’s a problem with your book. Whether you’re using your book as a marketing tool, or hoping to generate sales, if it doesn’t convey your professionalism and expertise, it won’t get you much media attention. Self-publishing and using small-press publishers are perfectly fine. But the final product must look and read like a quality publication. It pays to invest in a designer to produce a beautiful cover and a good copy editor to go over your final manuscript. Grammatical and punctuation errors, typos, poor organization and an overall poorly conceived book will hurt your credibility. If the media at first seem interested in your message, and then suddenly disinterested, you may need to polish your book.
Many people embark on promoting their product, service or book, believing that as soon as a few people see how great it is, it will become a roaring success. The truth is, it’s hardly ever that easy. Marketing is a continuous effort. The people who develop recognized brands and large followings have often been at it for quite a while. They actively seek new ways to engage and timely information to share. And they don’t stop once momentum starts to build.
Remember the tortoise in that fabled race?