How to grab a journalist’s attention
Journalists work in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment everyday and are only looking for stories which capture their attention right away. They constantly receive media releases, phone calls from PR consultants and emails about the latest and greatest product or business ideas. So to make sure you are noticed there are a few things to keep in mind when contacting the media.
Make them want to know more
Whether you are sending them a media release or pitching an article over the phone, make sure to present the most interesting information first. The information may have to be tailored for different types of media, eg: community newspapers are generally only interested on something to do with its immediate area. Most media releases won’t even be read all the way through if the journalist isn’t interested from the beginning.
Personalise your attempt
Whether emailing or calling do a bit of research first and find out which journalist you may wish to speak to. Simply using someone’s name can get their attention and makes them feel like you have a put in a bit of effort and aren’t just calling every media outlet in the country. If sending out a mass email make sure to BCC all email addresses so journalists don’t know you are sending it to every media outlet in the country, they will be less inclined to use information they know everyone has.
Pick your time wisely
A bit of research and common sense can tell you when a media outlets deadline is. Daily papers will obviously have a deadline each day so getting your information to a journalist earlier in the day may be an advantage for you as you’ll be contacting them when the stress is a bit less. Monthly publications such as some magazines have long lead times and can be looking for articles months in advance, there is no point contacting a magazine at the end of the month trying to get into the next month’s issue.
Don’t be afraid of journalists
They are people too. They have good days and bad days and there are ones who will be nicer than others. But don’t be intimidated by them if they are less than sugar and spice, they will respect you more for not sounding nervous. If you contact them at a bad time apologise once and move on, apologising more than that can become annoying. If you have all your information at hand, know what you are talking about and are polite at all times you should be received well.