Questions

How do I approach journalists/bloggers to cover my new website?

I live in South Africa however the site is global. I have a lot of questions regarding outreach, any help would be appreciated. I am essentially trying to sell my site to them so that they cover it, should I be subtle or blatant in this? -Would email or phone call be better? -How do I get their phone numbers? - If I send an email would it be enough to simply say "Hi....this is my exciting new site and it does xyz, I thought you may be interested in covering it. Please let me know if you want extra info."? -Do I help them craft an interesting angle to the story? -Do I show them how it ties in with previous stories? -Do I try to send pics, a link to the site, interesting infographics or attached pdfs about site? -Do I ask them straight out to cover the story or do I tell them their readers may find value in our offering? -How do I ensure they don't just read the first line and delete?

5answers

Hello,

Congrats on launching your venture.

First things first, what is your website about, and why should those different bloggers and journalists care? If you can answer this question (your elevator pitch), then you'll be off to a good start.

Secondly, you'll need to determine to whom you want to speak with and develop genuine relationships. Find out what the bloggers and journalists write about, what they like in life, what platforms they use, and more. Then start a genuine conversation so that you build up a rapport that way when you do email them to talk about your website, they'll be more receptive. From here you will learn more about the type of content they produce and if your product will be an organic fit for their readers. (Their contact information will also be somewhere online, and you'll also get a better sense of how you should write your pitch email.) Start with a small list of bloggers and journalists and then build up over time.

Thirdly -- what makes your website "newsworthy"? You can suggest this angle, but as you know, they're by no means obligated to covering your brand because it just launched. So again, make sure you understand WHY they should care -- and be able to articulate this reason concisely.

Furthermore, cold-calling is a no-no. Think about in your personal life. Most of us won't respond to emails or calls from people we don't know. And if there's attachments involved -- no way, we're downloading anything -- it could be SPAM or a virus.

Journalists and bloggers are very busy, and they are often working through hundreds of "requests for coverage" that come seemingly out of nowhere. Make their lives easier. Make your brand make sense for them. Make your message (and visuals) heartfelt. But most of all, be genuine. Since it's your website, I'm assuming you're passionate about the topic -- convey this through your messaging!

Hope this was helpful to you. I'd be happy to answer any questions you have here.


Answered 4 years ago

Background: My work's been covered in Wired, Verge, TechCrunch, Make Magazine, IEEE Spectrum, Hackaday, Engadget, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, etc.

Send them an email.

To answer your specific questions:

A) Do i help them craft an interesting angle to the story?
Yes, the 'interesting angle' to the story should be embedded in your brief, custom taylored description of the site for that person. Don't make it obvious that you created the angle for them specifically.

B) Do i show them how it ties in with previous stories?
Yes, again embed it in your custom taylored description for that person. If possible, don't make it obvious that you came up with the tie in for them specifically. It should come across as a true component of your website, and not something that you custom taylored to hook them.

C) Do i try send pics or a link to the site? or interesting infographics or attached pdfs about site?
You want to deliver your message to their brain as seamlessly and effortlessly as possible. The email should be kepy brief by displaying just enough info to get them interested. They should be able to gauge their interest by just glanging at the email. You should also provide links or attachments for them to learn more if they're interested. Don't overclutter with those add ons though.

D) Do i ask them straight out to cover the story or do I say something like i think your readers may find value in our offering?
You can mention in a single sentence at the end that you're sending them this because you thought they might be interested in it considering their interest/previous coverage of xyz.

Further advice:
Once you've got your list of people you'd like to contact, rank them in terms of which people you would like most to cover your site, and which people you care less about. Plan on contacting the people you care least about first. This is because 1) They will be most likely to say yes, and 2) You will be learning how to tweak your email/pitch as you go, so it will be best to do the learning on the people you care least about. That way, by the time you get to the top people you'll have a well polished presentation that you're sure will work.

Again, the recipient should be able to gauge their interest at a glance. Depending on how interesting your site's concept is, you may be able to just post a screenshot or link and put a heading under it saying, "A website that does X". But make sure to put the personalized hello at the start and a sentence at the end showing that you're familiar wither the person's / blog's interests, and thought it would be relevant.

Composing an email could take a couple days because to do it effectively, you'll have to take a break of an hour or so, look back at it, make changes, take a break, look back at it, etc. Each time you take a break and look back at it you'll notice one or two things that inhibited the easy flow of your message into your brain. The breaks are necessary because they allow you to come at it with a fresh look each time, just as your 'targets' will.

If you'd like me to review and edit your draft(s) send me a message, I'd be glad to help,

all the best,

Lee


Answered 4 years ago

I answer this same question here:

Q: How do you attract the press to write articles about the launch of your product? https://clarity.fm/q/3225

I would be happy to answer specific questions and offer additional suggestions, if you'd like to book a call.

All the best,
-Shaun


Answered 4 years ago

I have been in PR for close to 20 years and placed clients in NY Times, CNN, Conde Naste publications and major outlets around the world. To answer your questions:

-Would email or phone call be better?
Email as a first point of contact. Keep your message to under 200 words and your subject line direct and short 45-65 characters long max.

-How do I get their phone numbers?
Ask for their number in your email. Alternatively every media outlet has a masthead with names of writers and editors and sometimes a number for the office. Call the main line and ask for the extensions of the people you want to connect with.
- If I send an email would it be enough to simply say "Hi....this is my exciting new site and it does xyz, I thought you may be interested in covering it. Please let me know if you want extra info."?

Your company launching is not news. What you need to do is discover the story angles for your company and website. We call it the 'story hunt.' Bloggers and journalists are not there to promote you or write about you. They are in the business of 'news' and also serving their audience and looking for timely subjects that will get them the most clicks and are shareable. To do this right you need to think like a journalist and ask yourself is it really newsworthy?
Are you:

The First
Controversial
New
Broken
Unique
Scandalous
Unusual
Provocative
Better
Corrupt
Problem Solving
Problem creating
Innovative
Scam
Faster
Conflict

If you fall into one of these categories they will likely consider you newsworthy. You want to be newsworthy for the right reasons so keep that in mind.

-Do I help them craft an interesting angle to the story?
Yes 100% it's your job to craft the story and come up with angles and supporting evidence for that angle.
Here is a post we wrote about how to help create an angle that they would bite on.
. Provide a twist on trending news.
If a particular trend, style or accessory is hot in the media, you can bet that journalists are scrambling to one-up each other with new stories. You can fill that void — but you absolutely, positively must show up with a twist to the story they’re already reporting. Share a personal story, a surprising survey result or the contrarian view.
2. Localize a national story.
Pick up your local newspaper or flick on your local breakfast television show, and you’ll see countless examples of businesses that got their 15 minutes by being the local example of a larger story. These types of stories are the bread-and-butter of your hometown press.
3. Nationalize a local story.
This trick also works in reverse. Scan your local news for hometown stories and ask yourself, Does this story have national relevance? How can I frame it for a reporter, and insert myself in the story in the process? This is how a lot of freelance writers get their ideas — and it can work wonders for you, too.
4. Be a contrarian.
Objective journalism hinges on getting “both sides of the story.” If you’re seeing a one-sided media conversation about a trend or your specific product, it’s an opportunity for you to break through as an expert — especially if you’re willing to champion the underdog opinion. Once upon a time, no one believed anyone would buy luxury fashion online. Net-A-Porter, a now multi-million dollar business, categorically proved them wrong.
5. Personalize big data.
Very few micro businesses have the data samples or poll results that attract press. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be the case study that helps the reporter tell the data story. Set up alerts for surveys and polls on topics relevant to your business, and let the media know when you’re the case study for the results (or the exception to the rule).
6. Reinvent the holiday story.
Sick of reading the same-old holiday or seasonal stories? Journalists are tired of them, too. And, yet, it’s inevitable. Every Mother’s Day, you’re going to read countless stories on gifts for mom. If you can give a reporter a new spin on that seasonal feature she has to write every year, you’re on the fast-track to being her go-to source when she’s writing a story on a deadline.
7. Are you releasing something new? Use it!

-Do I show them how it ties in with previous stories?
Yes if it does show them definitely.
-Do I try to send pics, a link to the site, interesting infographics or attached pdfs about site?
Your first email will be short and direct with no attachments and no fuss. When they reply saying they want more send them all the goods and make sure you tell them that you have all the goods in the first email.
-Do I ask them straight out to cover the story or do I tell them their readers may find value in our offering?
Asks should always be direct. Don't waste people's time. However the idea is you have a story angle that is VALUABLE to them and to their readers. Their audience has to find value in the offering. Without that you are just asking for promotion in exchange for nothing. Always ask yourself, 'what's in it for the journalist?' before you fire off a pitch.
-How do I ensure they don't just read the first line and delete?

Make the story compelling! If you know the journalist ( a must!), know what they write about, know their beat, understand their tastes (hint: follow them in Twitter) and you've sent them a good targeted, personalized pitch with a strong hook they are less likely to delete after the first line. You need to be a good listener before pitching journalists and understand the anatomy of a good story. Good luck!
If you want more tips and trade secrets happy to chat with you. Our agency doesn't take no for an answer and we have a reputation for being tenacious and getting a crazy awesome response rate because we take the time and invest in listening to the press so we can be of value to them. You got this!


Answered 4 years ago

My credentials: I've earned coverage for myself and clients in hundreds of international, national, local and niche publications and blogs including the LA Times, Washington Times, Wall Street Journal, Popular Science, CNN.com and many more.

Once you understand the mindset of the folks who work in the media, you'll know the answers to all of your questions. You have to understand that newsroom staffing has dropped dramatically over the past several years. Editors and reporters have even less time to do their jobs, and shorter deadlines, and the PR consultants who earn coverage for their clients are often the ones who do most of the journalists' work for them. This includes finding the angle, writing the press release to Associated Press standards, supplying relevant quotes, background information, and anything else a journalist needs to cover your story.

Stories appear in a newspaper (or any other media outlet) for one reason: to increase readership/viewership so the newspaper can charge money for advertising. The more readers, the more they can charge.

Keep in mind--these media outlets do not care that you have a new website. Their readers don't care. They only care about "what's in it for me."

So your job is to convince the editor and/or journalist that your news is incredibly relevant and appealing to their audience, and (ideally) has the potential to become a viral sensation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

This means you really have to intimately know your target audience so you know what they're interested in, and find out what publications and websites they to go to get their news.

Other folks have given you good advice about finding contact information. However, you may also want to consider working with a freelance PR consultant who can purchase a verified media contact list tailored specifically for your niche. This may seem pricey, but you are far more likely to reach the correct contacts than if you try to distribute your releases through generic contact forms on their websites. It will be a huge time-saver for you as well.

A freelance PR person can also help you find the newsworthy angle to present in your pitch (and yes, you have to do this yourself.) I find this is the area that my clients struggled with the most before coming to me for help.

In ten years of helping entrepreneurs promote their online businesses, I have never found a single one with a "newsworthy" website. But I managed to earn media coverage for virtually all of them by creating the right PR strategy.

I just recently helped a client position his website as the leader in his category in New York City, one of the most competitive media markets on earth. We did it--and he was thrilled with the results--but we didn't promote the website per se. I created a PR campaign for him that was newsworthy by itself, and the website got significant traffic and media exposure as a result. It was a very cost-effective campaign, and accomplished his goals in only about six weeks.

There's a lot more advice in my article, "When (and why) should you send out a press release?" available on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140403192525-3482913-when-and-why-should-you-send-out-a-press-release?trk=prof-post

Best of luck to you with your new site. If you'd like more personalized and specific advice, please don't hesitate to schedule a call.


Answered 4 years ago

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