Pitch these subjects to gain attention—and publicity—from journalists
Many small business owners never approach journalists because they don’t think they have anything newsworthy to offer.
The truth is, they don’t know which elements of their business are worthy of media exposure.
Below is a list of 15 types of stories that journalists are usually looking for. Don’t be overwhelmed by the seemingly long list. Consider it a buffet for you to choose from.
Also, avoid the temptation of saying to yourself “My business is different, this idea won’t work.” Yes, it will. These general topics work over and over again for many different companies and individuals.
If you just open up to the possibility, I guarantee you’re going to see different types of stories you would never have thought of that actually apply to you, your business, product, service, book or expertise.
Time-sensitive media stories
1. Announce something new.
Do you have a new product offering? A new feature in your product? Even a new free offer? Did you update a product or service? That’s news your customers or prospects may want to hear about sooner rather than later.
2. Tie into breaking news as it breaks.
Is your business or product relevant to breaking news? Monitor the news with an eye to finding items that relate to your business.
3. Tie into annual events or holidays (or create your own).
Can you tie into a special event or commemoration? What is the time of year that people are thinking about needing your product, program or book? What time of year are they talking about you?
4. Raise a controversial issue or tie into one.
Who gets a lot of publicity that you disagree with? Contact the reporter who wrote about them and say, “Actually this is my opinion …” Reporters can do follow-up stories and it’s an easy way to piggyback onto somebody else’s story.
Do you have innovative ways of doing something? Are there scams or frauds going on around that you can comment on?
5. Pitch yourself as part of a trend.
Is there something that’s on the rise or decline in your industry that you can comment on? Is there a niche popping up that you can tie into?
If you pitch yourself as part of a trend, keep in mind if anyone else can comment or is also part of this trend. Helping a reporter find sources makes doing a story—and their job—easier.
6. Promote your personal story.
This is where you are the main story; it revolves around you. It could be a profile, or review of your product, service or book.
7. Tie into a popular movie.
The Twilight movies have been popular of late. They’re about teens and star-crossed lovers. If you’re an expert on mythology, relationships or teen development, then what input can you offer about these movies? Use popular movies or even TV shows as a springboard for a story idea to pitch.
8. Ti -in with “celebrities.”
If you’ve ever worked with a celebrity or they’ve given you some kind of testimonial, use that. Celebrities don’t have to be just TV and movie stars but can include famous authors, CEOs and influential people in your field.
Another approach is to ask influential people for advice. If you’re writing a new book, ask them for advice related to your book’s topic.
9. Do something for charity.
I’m not advocating doing charitable work just to get publicity. But if you are doing something charitable—out of love—maximize the situation and get publicity. Local initiatives do best—target your local newspapers, radio and TV.
10. Conduct a survey.
In all likelihood, you’re doing some kind of market research for programs and services you want to develop. Why not share your results? This could position you further as an expert in your field.
I’ve seen survey results that have a few hundred respondents. Even a short survey with interesting results can be the basis for a story. However, make sure you follow best practices in research so nobody can criticize your methodology and question your results.
Another way is to watch new studies or survey results that are published, and comment on the results. What bold, outrageous and provocative statement can you make about them?
11. Help people solve a problem.
You’re in business because you help people solve problems. How you help people solve problems is a story idea!
12. Target a certain demographic, race, religion or other niche.
Many people miss this as a story idea. Having a niche can make a good story. What niches are you targeting and why?
13. Issue a “Top 10” list.
People love lists. They provide information in an easy-to-digest format. Make a list of best practices, top mistakes, things to avoid, things to do, what to have … there are many possibilities.
14. Create a memorable brand/name.
People don’t do this often enough. I’ve recently branded myself as “the passionate publicist.” That means I’m passionate about helping entrepreneurs get publicity.
Create an identifying brand or identity for your business and include it in all your communication and marketing materials.
15. Write an op-ed.
An op-ed is a letter to the editor expressing your opinion about something. It’s not a pitch.
Of course, tie it into your business somehow, but keep in mind it shouldn’t be a blatant pitch for your business. When you sign off, for example, make sure to include your branding (see number 14 above) and your e-mail address and website.
This list is by no means an exhaustive list of all the media-worthy stories you could come up with for your business. This is merely a starting point.
What other ideas did this list spark in your mind? Please share in the comments below.
Elena Verlee is a serial entrepreneur, certified professional coach and PR professional who blogs at PR in your pajamas.