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Pitching Your Business to the Media Outside the Traditional Press Release

Author: Christina Galoozis Date: February 23, 2011

Get your message out through PRIf you ask any reporter or editor how often they pay attention to press releases, they’ll probably say close to never. Sure, some press releases can be effective, but for the most part they are expected—and ignored—by members of the media. That’s why your small business needs to catch the media’s attention in less predictable ways.

To get the press interested in your story or business, try these five strategies that avoid the traditional press release:

Follow reporters on Twitter

Sometimes the shortest pitch is the best pitch, and there’s no shorter pitch than the 140-character limit on Twitter. To catch reporters’ attention on the social media site, follow their updates and interact with them without directly pitching. Getting on a reporter’s radar means he or she will be more likely to remember you and your business when looking for a source. Plus, reporters often put a call-out on their Twitter feed when they need a source—and there’s your chance to swoop in and deliver your pitch. Search for journalists on Twitter here:

Sign up for HelpAReporter.com

Founded in 2008, HARO is a matchmaking site for reporters and sources. Sign up as a “source,” and you’ll receive daily emails of media queries that come directly from reporters. (For example, one query could be titled, “Looking for small business owners to discuss best hiring practices.”) Once you’re signed up—it’s free—keep an eye out for the queries you’re qualified to comment on.

Here are a few bonus tips: Remember to follow the query’s directions. (Did it want you to use a specific subject line in your email?) Always keep your pitches concise and relevant, and provide a direct phone number. And don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back—maybe your pitch will still work for a future article.

Other similar services include Pitchrate.com and ReporterConnection.com.

Build up your SEO

It’s rare for an editor to read your press release and think, “We should write a story based on this!” More often than not, they’re looking for a specific source for a previously planned storyline—perhaps they need a veteran tax professional in New Jersey or a serial entrepreneur from the electronics industry. To find these sources, they head for Google. So make sure your website, LinkedIn profile and any other professional presence on the Web is complete with keywords about your expertise, industry, location and experience. Essentially, make sure you’re easy to find.

Reach out to your network

Reporters and editors are connected people: If you don’t know one, odds are someone in your network does. So if you’re looking to get press for your small business, don’t just pitch the media directly—also let the people in your network know you’re looking for coverage. Email past colleagues, vendors and even family members with your pitch. You may be surprised at who has a connection to the media.

Bonus tip: If your pitch doesn’t fit a reporter’s immediate needs, offer to refer him or her to people in your network—for this story and for any others in the future. The more often they come back to you, the more likely they’ll be to use you in the future.

READ NEXT: 5 Things Reporters Don't Want to Hear From You

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