Pitching to the media is not always easy, but there are ways to increase your chance of success.

An effective media release all comes down to research, preparation and a targeted pitch.

You’ll notice that last point I mentioned was a targeted pitch – this goes against the traditional approach of PR, but times have changed and therefore our approach needs to change too.

If you are a small-to-medium sized enterprise (SME) the media is likely not going to go out of their way to cover your story. So you have to do something to tip the balance in your favour. One way to do this is to make it as easy as possible for the journalist or editor to use your article.

An effective media release all comes down to research, preparation and a targeted pitch.

News is now a 24-hour cycle, which means media outlets are always on the lookout for content, but they also have an overwhelming workload. So it stands to reason that if you make their job easier by pitching something that is not only relevant to their audience, but clearly created just for them, you increase your chances of getting published. This is the exact opposite of the old-school approach, which is to create one press release and then mass-mail it to all the media outlets on your database.

Success of a press release is never guaranteed, but my below tips will hopefully give you an added boost.

1. Have an (actual) hook

The ‘hook’ is industry jargon for the subject matter of the press release that gets your attention. This can often be a hard one, because what you think is interesting a media outlet may not! So you have to step back and be objective when considering your hook. Media organisations want their article read – particularly online, because that increases their click through rates!

2. Write a killer heading

Whilst media outlets may change your heading, thinking creatively about your heading is the first step in getting your pitch email opened by the journalist or Editor. Like all of us, their inboxes are likely very full so you need to stand out from the crowd. You may well have a different email subject line to your heading, but make sure both are interesting.

3. Ensure you have relevance to their target audience

I mentioned previously that mass-mailed press releases are an old-school approach to PR and not nearly as effective a personalised approach. The down-side is more time and effort from you, but the benefits should outweigh this, with you tipping the scales in your favour. You need to look at your media database and determine which ones are more likely to run your story. Then you can demonstrate your research by personalising your email to the media outlet. Include your contacts’ first name and the reason this article is suitable for their target audience.

4. Write using their style

This one is a little harder, but with a little research it is doable. Do they use first names for quotes or titled last names? How do they present date formats? How do they present their quotes? Do they have long or short headings?

5. Use a spokesperson

Providing quotes from a spokesperson within your article gives it some personality and authority. This is also a great way to get more subjective content included, as it is attributed to a person. When a journalist or editor runs your press release they want to be able to appear objective, therefore any flowery language will frequently be cut, unless it is said by someone else.

6. Provide an image that is pertinent to the article

These days the vast majority of articles have an image with them so it is in your best interest to provide an image. The best images are those that are original – so something you have had taken for your organisation. It could be a photograph of staff, or a product, a location, a publication, an event – the options are endless! Remember to always caption your image and attribute it to the photographer if required. If you don’t have something original another option is to use a stock image, but please take your time and pick something that is professional, has not been used a million times before and presents your company in the best light.

7. Provide logo files

When you provide your press release and photograph it is also a good idea to attach your logo as well. Online media outlets will sometimes include a logo at the base of their story – but even if they don’t at least they now have it on file.

8. Include online links

Following on from the above, many media organisations will include link in the online version of your story. Provide all your online links, but also embed them as part of your media release, if appropriate.

And do you know the benefit of undertaking all of the above? You become an easy pitcher. What do I mean by this? I mean the editor, journalist or blogger likely had to put in a minimum of effort to run your article, so in future it is likely that your pitches will be looked upon favourably and they may even seek you out for comment or contributions.

There are never any assurances that your press release will get a run, but by following these tips you’ll definitely be on the right path!


HollyMartin_150x150px_Apr2016Holly Martin is a small business marketing dynamo! She breaks down marketing jargon and concepts so SME businesses can confidently take control of their marketing and make educated decisions. She is the Director of Just Holly and runs 6-week online marketing workshops for business owners, administration staff and marketing graduates.

You can connect with Holly on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram or via her website.

Information, news, articles, features, content, content, content – it’s absolutely everywhere – but is it of value?

Creating stories or delivering your business message isn’t just a formulaic process; it requires planning, focus, creativity and the ability to format it correctly.

So how can you get back in touch with content that is meaningful, interesting, human, and above all worthy enough for a journalist to feature?

Claim back your untold stories and take your share of the content voice with this ten-step newsworthy plan to create attention-grabbing content.


Is this a big story of national importance, maybe even bigger, possibly worldwide? Think about the recent “Cure for Cancer” headlines or “Woman 106 dances with Obamas”.


Whatever the topic it has to be relevant for its audience, you wouldn’t send your school exam results to a business magazine but you’d definitely send the news to your local newspaper.


Anyone or anything that wields power is of interest to the media. Whether it’s about a powerful person, corporation, or economy, just think about the recent headline “PM Admits Owning Shares In Dad’s Offshore Fund.”


Does it involve a celebrity? In this celebrity-obsessed era you’re sure to catch attention if your story involves someone who is well known. From a soap star visiting your charitable cause to a pop star referencing your brand in a song, the opportunity is there for the taking.


It could be something quirky, something that breaks with tradition, or makes us laugh. Remember the biscuit shortage news? A serious story made quirky as we learnt of the UK based United Biscuits factory being hit by Storm Desmond.

Bad news

The news is full of bad news; it won’t be difficult to follow an example. Job loses, conflict, disaster, death, misconduct, you name it; the media just loves bad and sad news.

Good news

Achievement, success, triumph over adversity, heroism, bravery; from a local charity story to the London student who beat one in a 25 million odds of finding a stem cell donor to fight her blood cancer. Human interest and the feel-good factor is the key.


Hidden talents and myth busting are always good topics for the media. Did you know Steve Jobs created the first ever computer-animated feature film – Toy Story? Did you know it doesn’t matter how much Vitamin C you take it won’t prevent you from catching a cold?


Everyone likes a follow-up. Just think of the program Grand Designs; don’t we just love seeing how the houses look after five years? Maybe you have a ‘latest development’ story, or ‘where we are now’ piece, either way so long as it shows progression, is interesting, or grabs attention, it will be valid.


Who is the media channel for? There’s no point sending an academic white paper to a tabloid newspaper – speak the same language or forget it.

The secret to making a great story isn’t the quantity of information, it’s the quality of information created for the audience it’s intended for.

Just make sure it’s newsworthy – simple.

When I received feedback from a client that read, “Thank you for your advice, we put it into action and it went down a storm! We never thought we would accomplish what we did, thank you”, I considered that a priceless comment!

This company achieved a full-page news article in their local newspaper, based on our advice and input concerning media relations. Never before had they attempted this, believing they weren’t good enough, interesting enough or newsworthy.

They achieved what they deemed to be the unachievable, and also received a huge dose of recognition and credibility – I love PR for having the power to do that.

How did they achieve this? They developed a story that was authentic and relevant to their audience.

Here I share with you 3 PR tips to help you capture media attention, whether its for yourself or your business.

1. Be interesting

How do you make your story interesting but, keep it authentic and rich with content that is relevant to your audience. Be honest with yourself, is the story you are contemplating interesting? Maybe you have a hero in your business, a product that makes your customers’ lives easier, or a quirky service.

Just think of the most gripping stories, they can be exciting, scary or enlightening – but regardless, they engage.

Just think of the most gripping stories, they can be exciting, scary or enlightening – but regardless, they engage. One of my clients didn’t think they had much to announce this month so we got talking about business and developments and it turned out they had achieved new business on a national scale. From a provincial business they had developed into a UK wide business. We were able to develop a piece of communication around this to ensure the audiences they wanted to engage with knew about their capability and credibility nationally.

2. Be unique

Maybe you have a new service or product, or have achieved something unique in your industry. Maybe you are the only company in your industry to reach a particular milestone. Perhaps your recent new starter is unique – perhaps the only male in a female environment? Maybe your product is the first of its kind off the production line.

It isn’t good enough to create corporate fluff dressed up as a good story; think about how you would want to read about you. Only last week we identified a story that demonstrated my clients business performance and innovation in their market with their investment in electric vehicles. This is a worthy piece of communication for my client as they are the first company in their sector to make this investment.

3. Be newsworthy

Putting aside scandal and conflict, which the media love to focus on, ask yourself: Is my story really news? Is it bang on trend, an opinion piece, or hard-hitting? Is it filled with human interest and local interest?

Ensure it is timely – and by that I mean current. Your stories need to be fresh, and relevant to the media channel you are engaging. We easily achieved success for a high school that had organised a school trip to England’s chocolate capital to learn about its history and heritage. No, it isn’t hard-hitting news, but it’s full of human interest, relevant to the geography of the school, and let’s face it – who doesn’t like chocolate?

If you can identify a few of these PR nuggets you’ll be achieving top quality PR results that will connect you to your audience, create more understanding about what you do, and develop your reputation. What’s not to love about PR!

Videos are the best way to engage with your audience in today’s online world. It has never been easier to create videos and share them to the world, and, specifically, to your audience.

Businesses who use video are perceived to be more engaged with their audience – it’s a short cut to building rapport with your current and prospective customers.

But how do you get into the habit of being a prolific video creator? Here are 5 ways to easily generate video content to enhance your brand.

1. Make it easy and replicable

Firstly, you need an easy process for creating videos. The more complicated you make this, the more of a burden it will become, and the less likely it will be that you will bother. It needs to be easy to set up and quick to do.

Unless you have a spare few thousands of dollars lying around, make use of the surprisingly effective recording device you carry around with you – your mobile phone. With reasonable lighting conditions, your phone can produce quality videos with little fuss. You can pick up a simple stand for the phone or use a selfie stick (but don’t hold it – attach it to something).

2. Get the audio and vision right

You’ll be more inclined to share your videos if they look and sound okay. The first and essential item is a microphone. You can get a good quality phone lapel microphone for $50. Viewers will forgive poor vision, but not poor sound. Don’t rely on the inbuilt microphone. You will sound distant and amateur.

You should also find a spot that has some decent lighting. It can be sunshine, or just a well-lit room. Bouncing bright lights off a wall or the ceiling will soften the impact and diminish harsh shadows. But once again, keep it simple. The easier it is to do, the more likely it will be for you to maintain the momentum.

3. Streamline your systems

There are a few elements you can create once, and re-use for consistency and branding. For $5 on Fiverr.com, you can commission an animated logothat will immediately give your videos a professional look.

Keep any intros short – no more than 3 or 4 seconds. Your audience is there to be informed by your content, they shouldn’t have to endure a long opening that is just to promote your brand.

Also you can find royalty free music on YouTube and iTunes that you can use for your video openers.

4. Learn some new skills

Invest an hour or two in getting your head around the editing software that comes free with your computer. On a PC there is Movie Maker and iMovie is on a Mac. Editing is actually quite fun, although it does tend to take longer than you’d think.

As the business world embraces video production, you will need to be creating content to compete. It is worth taking a couple of hours to get your head around the software so you can easily create, edit and share videos for your audience.

If all else fails, find a secondary school kid (got any lying around the house?). They’ll be able to show you what to do!

5. Look out for topics to generate

You will have moments of creative proliferation. The ideas will come thick and fast and you will be able to record those videos easily. Of course, there will be other times when you’re busy, tired and the ideas just aren’t flowing. Keep looking for ideas. Jot them down on a note in your phone so you can check in on topics when you are stuck.

You should also build up a library of content that you have in store to release during the busy periods. You can add them to your YouTube channel as unlisted files and then make them public at the appropriate time.

Video is not going to go away. It is here to stay and it is one of the most effective ways to connect and engage with your audience. The sooner you embrace the sooner you can benefit from its power.

You can check out some technical mistakes to avoid here


Featured image via Geoff Anderson


Geoff-800Geoff Anderson

Geoff Anderson is the Managing Director at Sonic Sight a Sydney based video production facility; author of Amazon Bestseller “Shoot Me Now – making videos to boost business” and a presenter on using video for business. He has been working in TV and Events production for over 20 years. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Want to know the truth about PR?

Education is the key to creating understanding and ridding those pesky negative preconceptions that can often hound and taint many a sector and industry.

This is generally the role of PR, to pro-actively develop, action and maintain a strategy of communication that hits the right audience, with the right tone, the right information, and all at the right time to maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and the public.

Only the other day a client said to me they would never have received a request to quote from their dream client without the help of PR. Another said they didn’t have to hire a business development consultant thanks to the work of PR and the credibility it has given them.

This isn’t just great news for me but validation that the industry I work in does achieve what it says it does. But PR as an industry suffers from negative preconceptions, and I challenge those every day by doing a good job to dispel them.

Successful PR takes time and experience and the honest truth is PR isn’t easy; PRs just make it look that way.

So here I’m sharing with you 5 truths about the PR industry that many people just aren’t aware of:

1. It’s more than just writing.

Some days can be purely devoted to research. As a PR pro being informed and educated on a wide variety of topics isn’t just required, it’s essential. Some days it’s about problem solving and looking for solutions. Other days it can be devoted to looking for and creating opportunities for your clients.

2. It’s stressful.

Whether it’s making sure results are achieved, being organised, staying on top of your tasks, working with different personalities, and managing those inevitable last minute demands, PR can be a juggling act based on integrity to do and achieve the best for the companies you represent.

3. It isn’t 9 to 5

Say goodbye to fixed routines. Being pro-active is the key but reactive equally so. You have to be able to react quickly and that can mean working during unsociable hours. Sometimes a response, a story, a statement is needed NOW, and no, it can’t wait until the morning.

4. Proving your worth.

Not everyone understands the importance of PR or the skills and attributes needed to provide it. ROI is generally king and the sole preserve of the sales department, but it’s important to demonstrate how ROI comes from PR activity too. Without reputation and credibility how would a company survive? It isn’t tangible people cry, reputation is tangible, it’s an asset that attracts and retains customers – what are customers worth? What’s your reputation worth?

5. Anyone can do it

Where do I begin?! You must be a self-starter, be able to spot opportunities, be a good listener, good communicator, good at developing relationships, be discreet, take responsibility, be creative, skilled, knowledgeable, a quick learner…

…The list goes on and any self-respecting recruiter will tell you not many people have all those qualities rolled into one. The number of people I have given the opportunity to fashion a career in PR and they just didn’t have the will-power, drive or inclination believing the job was just too demanding and not the glamorous party they were looking for.

If actions are the result of the perception of facts then PR is the part of your business that is working to create, change, challenge or reinforce perception. Your reputation doesn’t clock off at 5 and neither does PR.

Last week I was asked about how to create perfect news. My response from my public relations experience was to say that typical news stories have two or more of the following qualities: Impact, topicality, size, impact, human-interest, or an element of the bizarre. However it isn’t as simple as that and although those components are essential considerations, it’s what you do with them that’s important.

Very rarely will your story have every component mentioned but so long as you have identified a news story that is topical, timely, and relevant, you should have enough information to develop a story fit for distribution.

Here are a few more top tips on how to create the perfect news:

1. Make your headline stand out

Creating a news story starts with the headline, so often overlooked, this small line of copy is THE most important part of the article – it is the part that encourages the reader to continue reading. One simple way to get this right is to ask yourself, “Would this make me read more?”.

I’d like to think the title I’ve used for this item attracted your attention enough for you to read on. I usually demonstrate the importance of headlines by sharing examples from the tabloid press. Before you scoff at the thought, notice how short, snappy and attention grabbing their headlines are – this isn’t an accident, it is crafted that way to grab your attention; and it works.

2. Use the inverted pyramid

Once you have deliberated and created your perfect headline the next rule of news is: Important information at the top and least at the bottom. Also known as the inverted pyramid to journos, the first paragraph should always try to answer Who, What, Where, When, and Why. This presents your message immediately and encourages the reader to continue reading.

If you go back to the top of this article you’ll notice I have given you the most important information about creating perfect news to attract the attention of your audience first. In the time it’s taken to read one paragraph you are more informed about the subject and are in no doubt about the information I am communicating.

Expand upon your introduction in the second paragraph, maybe even into the third, unfold your story and go into more detail explaining the facts. Don’t repeat your introduction, it’s easy to reiterate without realising you haven’t actually contributed anything new, the purpose here is to explain and inform.

3. Human interest – give it personality

Humanise your story and add a comment, or comments from a spokesperson or people, who relate to your story. This is a great opportunity to put someones opinion, thoughts and experiences across so use it and make it of value. I’ve added my comments in this article by way of illustration but hopefully it humanises it more for you and helps you understand the message I am putting out here.

4. Highlight authority or expertise

Conclude your story with a bit of background about who you are and what you do. Don’t use it to sell, simply sum up who you are, where you are based and what you do. Have you been in the business for 10 or 20 years? Are you an award-winning speaker or authority on the subject?

Presenting the perfect news story isn’t always as easy as it looks but if you keep it short, to the facts, in simple language – no waffle or jargon, and humanise your message, you’ll have created the perfect news story for distribution.

Colette Lowe is the Founder and owner of Chew PR. Colette has worked in PR for over 15 years. She has seen both sides and worked for consultancy and in-house teams providing her with an insight not many see. Colette will be contributing to the Public Relations section. She is based in Wakefield, England.

Photo credit: Pixabay