Having pitched the news media for many years, and having managed other to do so for the book publicity firm that I work for, I can tell you the media hates fielding solicitations for media coverage but they tolerate the practice because they know their livelihood depends on it. However, there are right and wrong ways for approaching them.
The news media hates:
1. Being contacted about something they would never cover because it’s not their beat. For instance, don’t contact a business editor about a book on fad diets or The View about a first-time, unknown sci-fi novelist.
2. Harassment. Do not contact them over and over about the same thing, especially if little time has passed and the content of your pitch hasn’t changed much. Sometimes you need to accept a “No” and move on. You also need to accept that silence on the media’s part is tantamount to a no.
3. Extra-long emails. Get to the point so they can decide if they want in-depth materials or not.
4. Leaving voicemails that go on and on. Give them your name and number—clearly—in a short message if you decide that leaving a message makes sense.
5. Being pitched on something they just covered. Chances are they won’t revisit the topic for a while.
6. People who contact them that show little understanding or awareness of how that show or publication or site works.
7. Gimmicks. They are smarter than that.
8. Liars, hypesters, and those who misrepresent the facts.
9. Those who are argumentative, rude, or begging them for media coverage.
10. People who make fact-less accusations or editorialize or seek to assert opinion as evidence of truth.
11. Those who don’t follow up to the request of the media in a timely manner.
12. Pitches that lack focus.
13. Freebies and bribes. Sure they like useful gifts, but most stuff that is sent to them is crap, and the good stuff is rare.
14. Small talk. Get to the point or they’ll hang up on you.
15. Name-dropping. If you reference a big name out of context you make your pitch seem lacking in substance.
So, the next time you think to pitch the news media, avoid the above items and just simply give them what they want—a great story or guest. Do you have that?
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, a leading book publicity firm. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.
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