Samantha Martin is the founder and ceo of Media Maison, a New York City full-service public relations firm. As a third-generation toy industry specialist who works one-on-one with Hong Kong’s top toy manufacturer, she has a deep grasp of the ever-changing toy business, and is uniquely qualified to provide her clients with the benefit of her industry knowledge, expertise, and far-reaching personal connections both in media and the toy industry. Sam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your business is your baby. It’s your pride and joy. And like most people, you believe your baby is The Greatest Thing in the World. But when an editor or producer says “pass,” it can be pretty hurtful.
Here’s the deal: You need to get over it. It’s not personal. It’s business. The harsh truth is that most media outlets do not have any interest in helping to sell your product. They’re looking for solid news and features that will interest their readers. Your best defense is to know your odds before you get into the PR game.
The chances of getting your product on national television or in a major print publication are slim at best unless you have a celebrity endorsement, or Dr. Oz just announced that playing with your game will result in a 10-lb. weight loss or shave five years off your age.
Editors, journalists and producers get hundreds of email pitches each day, and receive hundreds of products each month to review. How can they possibly go through them all? In truth, they can’t. And, they don’t.
To make matters worse, even if you’ve researched the media outlet and the journalist, memorized their editorial calendar, are on top of trending topics to pitch, and have written the most eye-catching pitch letter known to man – you still can’t possibly know everything that’s going on in that editor’s office, and due to circumstances out of your control, you may never get a response. Whether or not something will hit is just an educated guess. More to the point – a crap shoot.
So why do PR? Because nothing will sell more toys than public relations done well. If you consistently pitch the right story to the right media outlet, it will work and you’ll get results.
Ready to dig in? Here’s a top 10 tip list to get your perfect pitch off the ground:
1. Answer this question before you pitch: “Why should the reporter care?” If you don’t know, you’re not ready to pitch. Know your journalist, producer or blogger; know their beat.
2. Be a source, not a sore spot. For the media to choose your story, focus on how the journalist and his or her reader/viewer/listener will benefit; not you, your product or your business. Give the writer something their audience will WANT to read, and you’ll be a hero.
3. Don’t be boring. Have at least five different story angles for your product. Did you invent it? What inspired you? Great travel toy/game? Family Game Night favorite? Fun for college-bound students? Craft a pitch for each. Bonus: Linking your storyline with some basic human emotion such as (love, hope, fear) helps as well.
4.Think of your product as an onion. Don’t just concentrate on getting profile pieces from major media outlets. Peel back your product’s layers to reveal the many ways your story can be told through television, radio, newspapers, magazines, online publications or blogs. And even among outlets there are many options like national, regional, local, community, trade, religious and niche (i.e. ethnic, senior, special needs, etc.). Pitch outside the box.
5. Go local. The bigger the media outlet, the easier it is for them to find content because they’re constantly bombarded with story ideas from people or companies wanting to get coverage. Your best bet is to start at home with your local papers and magazines. Once you’ve been featured locally, you can leverage it to get featured nationally and internationally.
6. Be clear & concise. Never will more than one page ever be read. In fact, rarely is more than one paragraph ever read. Think elevator pitch and get it on paper, providing enough necessary information so the reporter doesn’t have to search for it. It’s a delicate balance between providing enough and providing too much. Bullet points are great for details like target market, where product is sold and price.
8. Stay hungry. Be constant and consistent in your pitching. You will hit. Eventually.
9. Follow up. If your pitch is met with silence, it doesn't always mean a media source isn't interested. Reporters get hundreds of e-mails per day and yours may get lost in the shuffle. Following up via email is best (but don’t be afraid to pick up the phone), within a couple of days after your first. Still no response? Let it drop.
10. Be responsive. If a reporter expresses interest or requires more information, get it to them in a timely manner. It is imperative that you have images ready, figures available if necessary or anything else a reporter or producer may need. Send samples if they are requested immediately – don’t let it sit for a week or you will lose the reporter’s interest or their deadline.
Bottom line? Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t respond to your pitch. Change up the story angle and pitch again. And once your story pitch gets accepted, don't forget to say thanks. It’s an important last step that will help build lasting relationships and potentially get you coverage again the next time you have a story idea, or even get reporters to come to you when they need a source.