There is no secret PR people are keeping from you (unlike the lunar landings, which really were faked). Getting coverage is a combination of understanding what journalists (really, really) want, giving it to them in an acceptable form, and then hammering away to get them to write about you.
There’s a lot you can do to dramatically improve your chances of getting coverage, though, and hopefully these pointers will help:
- Don’t assume because you find it fascinating, other people will. Read the sections of the newspapers you’re thinking of contacting, and ask yourself: “Is what I’m saying really going to be of interest to them?”
- Now be honest.
- Contrary to popular belief journalists aren’t out to get you (unlike the Reptilian Elite who really are). They can be rude and somewhat difficult at times, but then can’t we all.
- Remember news is news. It happens, and it’s generally pretty exciting. My eldest son is now on 150 House Points, which is big news in my house, but largely irrelevant to the rest of the world.
- Features are interesting because they tell you something about the world / an industry / business / the people involved. To be in a feature what you are / have to say, has to be interesting. We’re all interesting (up to a point), it’s just a matter of finding the right subject to talk about.
- A press release is not an essay or a sales pitch. It’s written in a particular format and everything you need to know should be in the first paragraph (like in those newspapers you’re reading all the time now). You can expand the story as the press release progresses, but unless the headline and first paragraph grab the journalist’s attention you haven’t a hope in hell of getting coverage.
- Keep reading newspapers (there’ll be a test before half-term), and find journalists that might be interested in your press release. Email them (praising them for past articles is often effective, who doesn’t like to be sucked up to a little). Your email should also contain your headline (in the subject line) an elevator pitch of your story, and a cut and pasted version of your press release.
- Then patiently wait for them NOT to reply.
- Give it a few days (unless of course your story is particularly time sensitive), and then phone them up. Journalists almost never answer their phones, so you’ll probably get their voicemail. Don’t bother leaving a message, they almost never listen to them.
- Keep calling them – at some point they’ll forget they almost never answer their phone, and will pick it up instinctively. You then have a few seconds to give them your elevator pitch. If they don’t like it, they’ll let you know in no uncertain (and often belligerent) terms. As a journalist, that was one of the highlights of my day.
- If they offer feedback (“you are the weakest link, goodbye”), gush effusively and hang up. Only then should you abuse them under your breath.
- If the feedback is actually constructive learn from it.
- Take a deep breath, then try some of the other journalists you’ve contacted.
- Remember, it can take a while to get coverage – for the first six months of my year without lying, every journalist on the planet thought I was a complete nutter (they’re a cynical bunch on the whole). Then I found someone at a national newspaper who really liked it, he covered it and suddenly I was a nutter no more. For fifteen glorious minutes I was featured in newspapers around the world.