What You Need to Know Before You Pitch the MediaYou should know that reporters, editors, and producers NEED story ideas. In other words, they need you as much as you need them. Yes, it’s perfectly okay to reach out to media pros, and in fact they want compelling story ideas. Though before you do make sure you have a news-worthy pitch. A new book release doesn’t usually qualify as news-worthy, especially considering there are hundreds of thousands of new book titles released each year, unless your book is relevant to something currently happening in the news. Instead, tie your pitch into a topic that is timely. When you can tie your story idea into something relevant that’s happening in the news such as a holiday (Valentine’s Day), event (like the Olympics), or other current trend (Pinterest anyone?), that can grab attention.

For example, if your book is about creating a happy marriage, you could send a pitch two to three weeks before Valentine’s Day with a list of Ten Ways to Keep Romance Alive. This is the kind of pitch that will get scooped up by local newspapers and morning news shows. At tax time, accountants and bookkeepers get interviewed. When school ends for summer break, all kinds of experts provide tips for pool safety, things to do with kids, summer vacation ideas, and strategies to keep your kids reading while on break.

You can also get coverage by tying your expertise into a current event. For example, after Lance Armstrong confessed to doping during his career, body language experts were featured on many news outlets discussing whether he seemed honest and sincere. Whenever a major celebrity gets in trouble, addiction experts, psychologists and psychiatrists are interviewed. When there is a major company scandal, such as what happened with Enron several years ago, financial advisors and stock market professionals are interviewed.

The reality is that you are an authority in your subject matter and you can find ways to be relevant to media outlets. To get the best results, figure out how to be news-worthy. All the media outlets want to deliver timely, relevant information to their audiences. Your job is to make that easy for them by stepping up to answer questions that are in the minds of their audience.

Press Releases

The old standard for public relations (PR) is to send a press release. These days many authors use services such as PRWeb.com, a paid distribution service. However, the results you’ll see from online press release distribution are most often disappointing. Media professionals rarely pay attention to these releases. The biggest benefit you’ll enjoy from an online service is that it will likely draw traffic to your website, which is not a bad thing.

For better results with press releases, you should send yours directly to reporters, editors, and producers. Most media outlets accept releases via email these days and list a general email address on their website. But you can take that a step further and send your release directly to the reporter, editor or producer who you feel would be a good fit for your pitch.

If you’re going to send a press release, make sure it looks as professional as possible. It should have a compelling headline, contact information, and the first paragraph should cover the five W’s: who, what, when, why, and where. Keep it brief and to the point. Search prweb.com for some strong examples to emulate.

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