Getting coverage in a national media outlet doesn't just happen.
planning, preparation, persuasion, persistence, and in most cases,
lots of patience. Here are 10 tips to help you create a
winning media strategy.
1. Determine your ultimate goal: Think about
what you want the media coverage to achieve. Is it visibility for a
new organization, service, or product? Participation in a clinical
trial? With your goal in mind, identify your key audiences. Who are
you trying to reach? What media does this segment of the population
follow? Knowing your ultimate goal and audience will help you find
the best media to deliver your client's message.
2. Do your research: Identify which media
outlets are reaching your audience. Is it national, regional,
local? Print, TV, radio, or online? Which outlets are covering
topics similar to yours? Which reporters are writing stories like
the ones you envision? You need to be able to pitch the right story
to the right reporter.
3. Time your pitch accordingly: Typically,
magazines are working on a 6-month lead time, and major stories can
take up to a year. The lead time for weekly print magazines is
generally 3 to 6 months, and for dailies, it's usually 1 week to 1
month. Online outlets have the shortest lead time, usually 1 day to
4. Determine the angle: You will need to look
for opportunities to tie your topic to something timely. Reporters
are not generally interested in general announcements, but if you
offer them a story on the advances of detecting a particular
disease, they just might be interested. Look for timely events,
such as New Year's resolutions, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, the
Great American Smokeout, and Men's Health Month.
5. Develop supporting materials: You'll need a
press release and factsheet. Be sure to include any data and
statistics that are relevant to the audience, as well as real life
examples. Be sure to check your facts and have a source for every
item. You'll also need a brief bio for your expert or
spokespersons. These materials need to be clear and concise--no
more than one page each. The idea is to capture the reporters'
interest so she can pitch the idea to her editor.
6. Prepare your spokesperson: In most cases,
the reporter will want to interview an expert on the topic. Make
sure your spokesperson is trained and prepared. You'll want to
develop a Q&A to help prepare your spokesperson. If your
spokesperson is new to media interviews, provide media
7. Write the pitch: You've got 30 seconds or
less to capture a reporter's attention. Your pitch needs to be
clear and concise. Include what the story is, what makes it
important to the audience, and what makes it timely.
8. Make the pitch: Most reporters prefer to
receive story ideas by email. Be sure to follow up with a phone
call. Always ask the reporter if this is a good time to talk (they
may be on a deadline). If the reporter sounds interested and says
she'll consider it or discuss it with her editor, ask when you
should follow up.
9. Follow through: You'll want to make sure the
reporter has everything she needs to write the story. If there's
something that you really want in the article, like your web
address, be sure to tell her why it would be helpful to her
readers, and be sure she's got the correct address.
10. Follow up: When the story runs, be sure to
thank the reporter. If there are any errors, let her know right