Recently I've put forth some new challenges and discussed promoting yourself through the media. If you haven't read these two posts yet, you might want to go back to look at these if you are interested in promoting yourself and your products.
I realize that the concept of writing a press release and getting to a media contact may sound intimidating to some. In my next post I will return to the topic of the press release, however today I'd like to look at a method that is in reality easier once you've made the right media contact.
Take a look at the opening lines of a story by noted sports news writer Ted Riggs that appeared in the Sunday February 5, 1967 edition of The Knoxville News-Sentinel:
LEE JACKSON, 16, finds football about as exciting as a game of Chinese Checkers.You can read the rest of the story in the clipping below. The person of whom the writer is speaking is yours truly (yes, Arlee Bird is a pseudonym and one day I'll tell that story). Why did this reporter interview me and my family? It's because my father talked to someone at the newspaper about us and suggested that they might want to do a story. My dad was always trying to get our name in the paper because he wanted to promote our juggling act. He wasn't at all shy about self-promoting to newspapers, television, or wherever he might get our name mentioned. It's part of the business of entertainment.
He is just mildly interested in baseball and has a take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward basketball.
Lee, an Everett High sophomore, delights in watching television but is nothing more than a casual viewer of sports events. He prefers comedy and mystery programs.
Would you believe, then, that Lee Jackson has quicker hands, sharper reflexes and better balance than most first-rate high school athletes?
|click image to enlarge|
Shortly after my father made his pitch, Mr. Riggs drove the twenty miles to our house and brought along with him the noted photographer Bill Dye. Not only had we scored the coup of a story in the newspaper, we were going to get the added bonus of an accompanying photo (as seen below). A photo almost always guarantees that readers will be more drawn to a story.
|The extra added bonus of a photo|
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I'm Not Like That! I Don't Have the Nerve!
I realize not everyone has the chutzpa to just walk up to somebody and start promoting themself. You may feel a little shy or embarrassed about doing this. So why not get somebody to do it for you? I'll bet your mother, spouse, kids, or some other friend or relative would be willing to do it. Let someone who's gutsy who cares about helping you know what you'd like to do and I'm sure you can find somebody to help.
You can also ask someone who has experience submitting press information. Think of someone at your church, in the local PTA, in an organization you are part of, on your kid's sports team, or what have you. Most organizations put someone in charge of submitting announcements or other news. Ask that person how they go about it and who they contact. They might even be willing to go with you and introduce you to their contact.
Some of you may even know someone who works for a newspaper or radio or television station. Or maybe you know someone who knows one of these people. You can start anywhere--even the person who delivers your paper.
Back when I was managing a touring stage show I was looking for an actress to play the lead in a production of Snow White. The female lead that I had hired dropped out at the last minute and rehearsals were due to start in a couple of weeks. I was at home in Tennessee on a break before we were to start.
In desperation I put an ad in the local newspaper for a week advertising the job opening. When the ad appeared a light bulb came on in my head about a story for the paper and my search for "Snow White".
I went back to the newspaper office and asked the lady who had sold me the ad space if she could help me get a story in the paper. She was agreeable, but asked if I could write one. Having thought ahead of time, I handed the story over to her. The next day the following story appeared in the paper just as I had written it: A few days later I had my ideal Snow White, who incidentally is now a writer.
|Spinning my advertising|
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A Final Word of Encouragement
Come up with your story and put a spin on your story. Think of why the story is interesting. Make a list of the relevant information that you want to deliver to the public and the story that goes with it. Then get that story into the hands of the person who will see that it is delivered to the public you want to reach.
Just remember that the people who work in the media are just people and it's highly unlikely they are going to laugh at you or slam a door in your face. They are probably more than willing to help you and you should approach them with the attitude that you are helping them find a good story--which you are! Be ready to answer their questions. And definitely be as positive and confident as you can be.
It's similar to trying to pitch your book or a product you're trying to sell, except it's a lot easier and has a much higher rate of acceptance. Once you start doing it, trying to get press coverage gets easier and you learn what works and what doesn't. Don't forget to keep track of the names of the contacts you make--you made need them later.
Have you ever submitted a story idea or piece of news to a newspaper or other news venue? What was your experience? Do you belong to an organization or work for a company that has a press person or department? What do you think is the best medium to use for getting free publicity?