Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What Gets Media Attention

When pitching the media, there are different stages to getting attention.  For instance, for a press release, the headline must grab them and invite them in, or the rest won’t be read.  Same goes for an email pitch – your subject line has to get their attention or it won’t even be opened.  So what will open their minds and hearts to your story?

You need to drill down on the thing that will make people stop in their tracks and want to know more.  What can you say that will chart a strong reaction, that will make them laugh or angry or fearful?  What button can you push that will light their curiosity?

I suggest you do the following exercise:

1.       Freely write out what you believe are important talking points – the things you’d say if given a chance at an interview.

2.      Start to prioritize them in order of importance, shock value, news, or uniqueness.

3.      Start to reword them so they sound more colorful, outrageous, or scary.

4.      Think about saying your points in a different way.  For instance, instead of making a statement of fact, make an accusation or raise a question.  Instead of talking about something generically, be specific by name or cite a statistic to give it some definition.

5.      Now choose the best one.  Keep it short if it’s for an email subject line.

One way to help you see things the way the media does is to browse headlines in newspapers, magazines, and blog posts.  Borrow their words and styles, but put your personalized spin on it.

Let’s examine the process more closely.  For example, maybe your book is about how to raise a healthy dog.  You can have all kinds of fun with this and play with words that are linked to dogs.  In fact, let’s start with the words we commonly associate with dogs – man’s best friend, bark, howl, roll over, can’t teach an old dog new tricks, loyal, protective, canine, puppy, furry, companions, four-legged creature, paws, woof, dog years, life of a dog, rescued, guard dog, pooch, etc.  Let these words marinate in your head.  Stir them like a soup.  Start to formulate headline ideas like these:

Canine companions live longer on organic chow
Extend your life – and Fido’s too – with long walks
Holistic medicine going to the dogs – Really!
Did you remember to brush your dog’s teeth?
How to ensure happy golden years for your pooch
What is your dog’s cholesterol?
How to select the right treats after your dog beats cancer

If we think it through, we can come up with dozens of quirky headlines.  Sometimes you’ll use five or six different ones, depending on which person at which media outlet you contact.  A pitch to a features editor will vary from the one you send to business or health editors.

Sometimes the perfect pitch comes to you right away or when you least expect it.  Other times you need to just generate ideas and plop your thoughts onto paper and then put the puzzle pieces together until it’s the right fit.

Remember, you have many weapons at your disposal.  You can out-think, out-word, out-create others.  Dig deep and be open to exploring the odd, the crazy, the laughable, the controversial, the critical, the revolutionary, and the daring.

Time: Since you can’t control how much time you have, you must control
  how you use it.
  Energy: You should always strive to use your strength on your strengths.
  Goals: You can’t do everything, so you must discipline yourself to do the
  important things.
  Moods: If you do not master your emotions, they will master you.”
  -- Excerpted, There’s No such Things as ‘Business’ Ethics

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

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