Pitfalls to Avoid in Media Outreach

Guest Post by L. Drew Gerber

Major pitfalls that can befall authors in their media outreach are usually simple things — minor overlooks that can result in the loss of the media’s attention. The Internet has made the media more accessible and email has made media outreach easier, but it has also increased the chance that you or your book be overlooked or even ignored. Here are a few things we did before hitting the “Send” button to land a client on Dr. Phil, CNN, and other national media outlets:

Email Subject Lines ~ Getting Lost in the Mix

Some journalists at top tier media outlets receive over 1,000 emails an hour. Media flooded with emails will often use search terms to go through their in-boxes and find emails relating to major stories they are working on. My PR team always put brackets around the one or two words in the subject line that involve the breaking news item. For example, during the Rihanna and Chris Brown fiasco we sent pitches out for our client and landed Dr. Phil with this subject line:

[Rihanna] Dr. Jill Murray — 3 Stages of Violence — Which one is Rihanna?

The breaking news item acts as the keyword search and the brackets grab the attention of the media.

Summary & Body ~ Losing the Media’s Interest

The first few words of your pitch have to get immediately to the point: What can you offer the media that they can’t get elsewhere? If your pitch is tied to breaking news, you must say immediately how you will help the journalist advance their story. One way to do this is to list topics you can discuss that will shed new light on the news. Another is to give the journalist a sampling of key tips or advice that you can offer their audience. These should be short, concise, single sentences.

Teaser ~ Forgetting Who the Media Serves

Close your pitch with a “teaser” designed to show the practical advice you will provide the media’s audience. With Dr. Jill Murray we closed with the warning signs around text messaging to alert parents, friends and relatives that a young person may be in an abusive relationship. We even provided the media with a link — we never send attachments — to an online quiz by our client to help educate their audience on warning signs of relationship violence. We closed with the all-important after-hours contact information to show we were serious about getting our client coverage.

When it comes to media outreach today, less is more. Now that the media is bombarded with pitches via email, your subject line and first few words of your email have to be clear and concise. If you keep it simple, you’ll grab hold of their attention and see results.

About the Author: L. Drew Gerber is CEO of www.PublicityResults.com and creator of www.PitchRate.com, a free media tool that connects journalists, publicists, and experts. Gerber’s business practices and staffing innovations have been revered by PR Week, Good Morning America and the Christian Science Monitor. His companies handle international PR campaigns and his staff develops online press kits for authors, speakers and companies with Online PressKit 24/7, a technology he developed (www.PressKit247.com). Contact L. Drew Gerber at: AskDrew@PublicityResults.com or call him at 828-749-3548.

Posted on June 8, 2010, in Publicity & Writing, Writing & Publishing. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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