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JoTo DIY: Tell your story to the media

It’s time to get into some down home DIY!  Earlier we were discussing how this is a great time to do a PR inventory – sit down with your bad self and figure out what stories you have that are newsworthy and how you can get them distributed, published, etc.

Action Plan

  1. Read: One of the first things you want to do is read. Yep, I did say read. You want to read industry publications related to your business. Read publications that you know your customers would be reading.  It is really important to be familiar with the media before you pitch it so you know what kind of stories are being written, on what topics, etc. Check out what is being written on your competition and any other similar businesses. So yes, lesson number one is to read!
  2. Avoid the Editor’s Pet Peeve:  When it comes to pitching the media, almost every editor will tell you the same things. You see there is this pet peeve that flies around every publication and it goes like this – someone calls them and says they have a great story and instead of suggesting a story they say: “Write about my CEO or Write about my product, it is awesome. This is not a PR pitch this is what we call the “me” pitch. It lacks credibility right from the time the phone is answered.Let me give you an analogy to the above PR negative pitch. Pretend this guy Jammin Jimmy is at a cocktail party and he really don’t know anyone there, so in an effort to introduce his bad self, he starts going up to people, vigorously shaking their hand, hugging them even, and telling them just how great he is. How popular do you think old Jimmy would be at that party? Before you know it he would either find yourself escorted outside the door or sitting alone in the corner.People don’t want to be pitched like that. They want an opportunity to get to know you and network. If everyone was just pitching “me’s” pretty soon you would find a lot of folks just talking to themselves. Don’t be a Jammin Jimmy!We will come back to the party a little later in this article when we discuss the benefits of a PR campaign, but right now let’s get back to that editor person and figure out what they want. Well consider yourself at a cocktail party with a bunch of editors.  If you were to speak with a handful of editors or even a party full of them, one for one they will tell you pretty much the same thing – whatever you give them must be newsworthy!What is newsworthy? That’s simple enough to answer; it is something that will sell newspapers (magazines, TV shows, etc.). Get the picture? What you pitch has to have a hook and mean something to others and not just yourself.

    Remember the “me me” pitch? Well this is the exact opposite – you have to stay objective and determine what is in it for the reader or listener or viewer. You have to describe how it will in some way shape or form help them. Then it is newsworthy.

  3. Newsworthy: Here’s where you find out what to pitch. Let’s take stock of your inventory of potential stories. Make a list of awards, demonstrable expansion and growth, any new products, personnel additions, milestones and accomplishments as in sales or special installations, something the reader can use, etc. You want to list anything that would be inspiring and of interest to folks and will of course “sell papers” or “sell advertising on a TV station”!
  4. Party Time: Remember our cocktail party where our friend Jammin Jimmy was all over the place telling folks how great he is? Well here’s the secret that no one wants to tell you. People don’t like to be sold. They want to buy but try shoving something down their throat and you have lost their checkbook and their loyalty – and you can forget about the credit/debit cards if that is what you are thinking.Your products, your services, your company all need credibility. Credibility does not come from the braggart column on the menu. Credibility comes from sources other than you who fall in love with what you are doing. Today customers are more empowered than ever before. They have the instant ability to rate, review and criticize from a variety of web sites including Yelp, Facebook, and Angie’s List and so on. There are a myriad of reviewers out there all waiting to praise or criticize.If Jammin Jimmy was to take a look at the market and find someone else to sing his praises, his life would be a heck of a lot easier. When you get other peeps to tell your story – the market will want you… then they are buying into you instead of you having to sell them. This is not to say that sales are not needed, they are. But your frontline and in fact your lifeline to sales is PR. The growth of your company depends on it.So the next time old Jammin Jimmy hits the party trail, folks know him, they have read about him or seen him on TV, heard him on the radio and they come gushing up to him wanting to buy.
  5. Pudding Time: You want to walk the walk not just talk the talk don’t say how great you are, show it. The proof truly is in the pudding and that 3rd party endorsement goes a long way to demonstrate just how great you are. Show what you are doing to make a difference in your industry or community. People respect that. They don’t want to hear yet another talking head bragging about how fantastic they are (we have enough politicians strutting their stuff as it is). What they want is to be helped in bettering their lives in some way. Then you are talking story time.
  6. Story time: So here is a new rule of thumb (looks at his thumb with wonder). Don’t pitch your stories, your company, your personnel, your releases, etc.  Instead, what you want to do is tell a story. You want to tell a story about how your product or service helps people. You want to tell a story about why you got in this business and how passionate about it you are and that you want to make a difference in this world and how your company will help you achieve it. You want to be on a one to one personal level with your customers, your prospects and yes with the editor. You have to be a good story teller to succeed.

Advice Disclaimer. This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional public relations or legal advice. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay seeking professional PR or legal advice because of something you have read here. Contact an attorney to obtain advice on any particular legal issue or problem. Use of this Web site or any of its e-mail links do not create an agency-client relationship between JoTo PR and the user.