We can all agree that times have changed … and keep changing. Today, how to pitch reporters is very different from the way it used to be. It’s still true that a media pitch with a compelling subject line and a dazzling story idea will still likely grab a reporter’s attention.
But the Internet offers reporters a smorgasbord of experts in every conceivable subject.
Reporters don’t need to wait for a PR person to “sell” them a story. Increasingly, they are proactively searching the web for experts.
If they want an expert with blonde hair and blue eyes, they can find him. If you want to be that blonde-haired, blue-eyed expert that receives a phone call for a media interview, then you’ve got to be prepared to respond when the phone rings.
Be Ready to Talk Now
Print and broadcast media have pared down their staffs as more news gravitates to web outlets. Reporters are pressed for time. If you ask to schedule the interview at a future date so that you can prepare, it may be too late. The reporter will just move on to the next expert on his list.
Here are some tips for getting ready for that unexpected phone call, when you can answer, “I’m absolutely ready to talk now!”
- Google yourself. Do a search of yourself to see how you are positioned on the web. Where have you been quoted before? What topics have you discussed? Those are most likely the ones the reporter will want you to comment on.
- Get media training. When a reporter is calling on deadline, he may not have more than a few minutes to talk. Be sure you get media training so that your key messages just roll off your tongue. Practice them until you’re completely comfortable.
- Research reporters. If you’re serving as a company’s spokesperson, then you, or your media department, should develop a list of reporters who cover your company and industry. Know who they are. Just as importantly, read what they’ve written and how they approach a story. Then you won’t be surprised by their questions when they call.
- Reach out to reporters. Don’t wait for reporters to call you. Be proactive. Reach out to reporters to compliment them on stories, send them relevant studies, and suggest other sources they can contact. Offer yourself up as an expert along with the topics you can discuss. Reporters still keep a Rolodex of contacts except that now they’re in online databases.
Relationships still count. So when a reporter does a web search for an expert to interview and sees your name, you want her to remember how helpful you’ve been in the past and move your name to the top of her list.