How to find the right press contacts and get on their ‘go-to’ list
Do you dream about seeing your products in magazines, Sunday supplements and on blogs but have no idea where or how to start? PR consultant Kerry Law is at hand to show you how, when it comes to getting featured in the press, it’s all about building relationships with the right people, and that by giving them what they need, next time they might even come to you!
Kerry Law is a PR consultant with a wealth of experience in generating national media coverage for independent sellers. Her new online course ‘PR for Products: How to generate press coverage for your brand’, is available now as a self-paced course or a 4-week interactive course with feedback. Folksy sellers can get 20% off by using code ‘Folksy’ on booking.
5 tips on how to find the right press contacts
Do you hear the old adage, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, and think that’s why you can’t get your products featured in magazines? Don’t despair. The trick is to make friends and influence people – and you can do it yourself, for free. Spend time now on building good relationships with journalists and bloggers and you’ll be reaping the reward of press exposure for years to come.
Here are five tips on how to find the right contacts and get yourself on their ‘go-to friends’ list for product news.
1. Create a media list
There are a dizzying number of media opportunities out there for independent sellers, so you need to start reading… Which newspapers and magazines are your potential customers buying? Browse those titles and start cutting out any relevant shopping or product pages. Get to know the accompanying websites, as many outlets publish content exclusively on their online platforms (particularly shopping galleries) and bookmark relevant sections. Browse the web for relevant blogs (Google is your friend here) and bookmark those featuring shopping or product reviews. Magazine subscription site Readly.com gives you access to hundreds of titles which will save you a lot of money, especially if you use one of their free trials.
Start creating a list of target media by adding specific journalist/blogger contact details (this detail is gold dust) against outlets. Look at the product page you’re targeting – often the journalist’s byline won’t be obvious but may be found in tiny print in the margins of the page, eg ‘compiled by…’ or ‘words by…’ – keep your eyes peeled. Many publications list all staff near the front of the magazine alongside a clue to their email format (eg firstname.lastname@example.org). See if you can spot the relevant section editor or seek out the editorial assistant who, in response to a friendly request, may share the correct name and contact details with you.
2. Understand what they need
Journalists are approached by hundreds of people they don’t know every day. One of their big pet hates is that most of those emails contain irrelevant content. Stand out by demonstrating that you understand exactly what they need. If you’ve identified the right journalist for a specific section that features products like yours, well done, you’re half-way there!
Now build up a deeper understanding of the types of products they feature, and when. This will involve researching over time (or dipping into back issues) but helps avoid wasting your time and theirs. Do they theme their shopping pages? Do they prefer eco-friendly or luxury products? Do they ever run gift guides? Consider lead-times when pitching – a print magazine works 3 months ahead, weeklies around 6-8 weeks, and dailies still need a week or so.
3. Your first approach
You’ve identified your journalist/blogger, you’ve got a relevant product, and you’re contacting them in good time – what’s stopping you?
It’s common to feel a little nervous when writing that first email but remember, your planning has ensured you’re already sending them something they might want. Take your time in getting your first email ‘pitch perfect’.
In just a few lines, a good pitch should:
- address the journalist by name
- mention the specific slot you’re pitching for
- say what is new and/or interesting about your product
- why their readers would be interested
- explain who you are and what you do.
The email should be friendly but professional and to-the-point. Visuals are crucial in product PR but make sure you attach low-resolution, media-friendly images in the first instance, with a promise of high-res images, if requested.
Note the date you send that first email in your media list and if you haven’t had a reply in a week or so, allow yourself one brief follow-up email to check they received it. All journalists differ in this approach but you’ll build-up a knowledge of individual preferences over time.
4. Dealing with the response
That first email is just the beginning – don’t ruin a budding professional relationship with a sloppy response. Firstly, if you do receive a response, of any kind, give yourself a pat on the back – even a polite “no thanks” means that your pitch was professional enough to be read and considered.
If they respond requesting more info, reply as soon as you can. Journalists work to tight deadlines and leaving them waiting can mean you miss out on coverage this time and in the future.
Show them you’re a reliable source by giving them exactly what they need, so read (and re-read) that reply – do they want high-res images via WeTransfer or email? Have they requested a sample to review? When is their deadline?
5. Help the relationship blossom
After a successful first exchange, you’re well on your way to a fruitful professional relationship. If your product does make their edit, it won’t hurt to send a very brief email of thanks. Ask to be added to any request list they may keep so they’ll come direct to you next time. From your first exchange, log every date of contact and personal preferences against their name in your media list – this is the kind of media intelligence that is the bedrock of a good working relationship.
And if your first pitch didn’t get a response? Don’t take it personally, they may have liked your product but had something too similar lined up that time. You definitely should not come across like a spurned ‘first date’ by hounding them with increasingly desperate emails! Along with being overly familiar, pushing your product with grandiose claims, and getting a little angry with them if your product doesn’t make the edit… this behaviour will ensure a swift ‘Delete’ the next time your email drops into their inbox. And that really would break your heart.
Read Kerry’s Tips on how to write a press release here – https://blog.folksy.com/2014/09/22/how-to-write-a-press-release
Find more tips on how to get your products featured in magazines, newspapers and on blogs here – https://blog.folksy.com/category/seller-tips/how-to-get-press-blog-features