How To Get Local Media To Do Stories About Your
By George McKenzie
Have you ever gotten one of those letters from your
local property tax appraiser, informing you that your
tax bill is going up about 20 percent?
I got one of those recently, so I took it to my friend
Joe Gross. He appeals property tax assessments for a living.
"Man," he said. "I've never seen assessments explode
like they have this year."
My "news antenna" shot up. Then when he showed me his
new web site, which gave property owners a chance to
look up appraisals of other homes in their
neighborhood, I told him--'You've got to pitch this to
the news media.'
I helped Joe put together a short release and then
faxed it to local radio and TV stations. A few nights
later, there was Joe, on the evening news, describing
his web site to tens of thousands of viewers.
Could it happen to you? You bet, if you remember a
couple of basics.
*** Learn to spot opportunities. When you see, hear or
read something in the media that relates to your field,
call the reporter who did the story and offer 'another
angle' or a 'follow- up.' Reporters are often judged on
their ability to 'enterprise' their own stories and
ideas, and if you help make THEIR job easier...guess
what they're likely to do for YOU?
Recently the San Antonio Express News ran a story
about some new software. Darrin Schroeder, VP of a San
Antonio company that had just rolled out a similar
product, called the reporter and offered a
'follow-up.' Result: front page story, with color picture, several
Stewart's Special Report #5: "How to Identify
Story Ideas Within Your Company or Organization"
*** Don't be afraid to ask. Listening to a pitch is
part of every reporter's job. But keep this in mind:
they always work on deadline, so sometimes they don't
have much time to talk. Therefore, if they seem to be
in a hurry and they say "No," it doesn't necessarily
mean your story is worthless. It may just mean "I don't
have time to think about this right now." Call back another time.
See Joan Stewart's Special Report #25 "How
to Pitch Reporters Over the Telephone and Make Every Second Count."
***Talk high touch more than high tech. A high tech
feature is great...but only if it results in a high
touch benefit that makes life simpler, easier, more
enjoyable, or more interesting. Pitch how it saves time
or money and cuts down aggravation. Humanize it as much
as possible, and if you know of someone who
legitimately loves and uses your site, offer them as a
Getting free publicity isn't nearly as hard as you
probably think. It will cost you some time and energy,
but it doesn't have to cost you cash. You WILL get
results if you keep trying, and the rewards will far
outweigh the effort. Just ask Joe Gross.
During his 31 year broadcasting career, George's
TV Reports have appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, ESPN
and CNN. George offers a free 7-day mini course to
anyone who subscribes to his free weekly ezine,
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