Pitching the news media successfully has always taken a bit of craft, gumption, and timing on the part of authors and book publicists. One needs to creatively and insistently present a message that will grab the media’s attention. But what does it take to get your message heard in the middle of a trifecta of big stories: the pandemic, the protests, and the national election?
First, don’t get psyched out that the media won’t pay attention to you just because you are an unknown or your book seemingly is not so important in comparison to the level of stories being covered now. You deserve attention, too, and you have to act with a belief in yourself and out of a conviction for your message. If you don’t believe in yourself, they won’t either.
Second, you need to be sensitive to the needs of the media. They are burning out and exhausted from covering heavy news stories that involve life, death, tragedy, and financial hardships. They are doing this 24-7, seeking to keep up with local and global events that change by the minute. I am tired just thinking about it.
Additionally, they could be personally tied to these events. They may fall victim to the pandemic. They may feel empathy for the marchers. They may believe in one political candidate over another. So, be sensitive and aware how the boundaries could be breaking down between journalist and story – and seek to exploit that for your advantage if you sense which way a journalist leans on the stories they cover.
Next, you need to succinctly show what you have to offer by way of story idea, why you are qualified to discuss this, and how you are more interesting than others who seek to get their attention. Brevity is your friend. You need to cut to the chase and to say it in a way that makes the journalist feel something. Spark their curiosity. Engage their sense of right and wrong. Appeal to their emotions.
Find a way to relevantly comment on the stories that already interest them. Or, be prepared to show how you purposely are not about any of the big stories that consume all others. No room for a middle ground. It is one extreme or the other, so pick a side.
Research the media: what does a particular media outlet cover and how do they cover it? What do you know of the specific journalist, blogger, podcaster, TV producer or radio host that you reach out to? Take what you know and use it in your pitch.
The news cycle is bumpy today -- has been for a while -- and it will continue to be so. Don't shy away from approaching the media, waiting for things to cool down. Just dive in to the deep end of the pool and learn to swim.
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