Real Estate and Mortgage Agents often ask how they can be “that guy” that always seems to score interviews on radio and tv, and articles in the local paper.
There’s some science behind the magic – read on to see how you too, can be a media savvy Real Estate or Mortgage Agent.
1. Read first, pitch second. In social media circles there’s a lot of chatter about listening first and engaging next. The same principle applies to media relations. Scan the publications you think reaches your target market and identify the reporters you think cover your space, then read their articles. A good technique is to bookmark those sites and schedule reading time each week. If you have an RSS reader like NetVibes or Google Reader, many writers have RSS feeds that you can plug into your reader to catch (just) their latest. Regular reading will give you a better sense for the reporter’s style and focus and enable you to write a better pitch. Don’t try to tackle the world at once. Instead, incorporate this into your schedule and find a couple new writers to follow each week.
2. Engage. Engagement can come in several forms. First, if you enjoy an article a reporter you follow has written and have something of value to contribute to the conversation, post a comment. Caution: avoid commenting merely for comment’s sake. Second, if you’re on social media channels, like Twitter, follow those reporters and add them to a list. Watch and read what they Tweet. Tweet links to articles you find interesting and be sure to include the reporter’s Twitter handle in your post. Finally, if you find an article especially compelling, send them a note and tell them why. Most people enjoy positive feedback, especially from their readers, so if you enjoyed a piece of work, let them know. No pitch, no pressure, just conversation.
3. Pitch a story, not a product. Reporters are after a story, something that is useful and compelling for their readers. Rather than pitching about how great your service is, tell them how it solved a problem. An old textbook I have lying around defines “news” as something that defies expectations. What is it about your story that defies expectations?
4. Short and relevant. Of the vast volume of pitches reporters receive; most of them come by email. Since that makes for a cluttered inbox, relevancy and brevity go a long way. When I reach out to a new reporter – someone I haven’t contacted before – I generally like to include a reference to something they’ve written. For example, my first sentence might read, “Mike: I saw you wrote about the mortgage trends and local housing affordability and thought you might be interested in some analysis we conducted on that demonstrates our area is still affordable for young families.” It demonstrates that I know what “Mike” writes about and have a pitch that’s related to his beat.
5. Consider other story angles. The story angle refers to the perspective from which a story might be explained. Take Apple’s iPad for example, which was covered from a range of angles – from the business impact on Apple and the competition, to gift guides and product reviews. There’s even a human interest angle as which iPad apps help austistic kids development demonstrates. The story angle can often be driven by timing, for example, as Valentine’s Day approaches many publications are putting together their gift guides, so this news peg is more appropriate right now, than it would be on February 15th.
6. Try another channel. You’ve pitched a great story to a reporter you just absolutely positively know would be interested, but there was no response. If you’re that sure, try reaching out to them the old fashioned way: snail mail. You could go for a simple letter, which would has the advantage of cutting through the clutter of email, or send them a sample of you product. Pick five reporters you have really gotten to understand through reading, write them a pithy personal note that explains why you think it’s would be of their readers’ interest.
7. The phone still works. Just like snail mail can help you cut through the clutter, so too does the phone. If you’ve done your research, know what the reporter covers, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone can call a reporter. Be sure to have the key point you’d like to get across in mind before dialing. Since deadlines tend to loom in the afternoon, I tend to make calls in the morning, and just like any other call, extend the reporter the same courtesy: “Hi, I’m Frank, I’m with Company Name and I’ve got a story in which I think you might be interested. Do you have a minute to talk?”
8. Focus on a relationship. By relationship, I mean a professional relationship: one built on trust, relevancy and courtesy. Understand that reporters are paid to accomplish a task: inform their audience with accurate and timely information. Reporters keep notes on their sources, and likewise, you should keep notes on your conversations with reporters. Keep track of what you talked about, when and any ideas that you might have in mind for contacting them in the future. Above all, there are three simple guidelines: be honest, be helpful and be responsive. Don’t make a reporter wait. They won’t.
9. Tools that can help. It often helps to include videos, high quality images or other supporting documents/images that add “beef” to your story. Another great tool – a 3rd party quote that supports the point of your story. Thid party validation will make a huge difference in getting your story picked up.
10. Be persistent. If you know you’ve got a good story, don’t shy from being persistent. I’m not suggesting you call them three times a day or email – that’s stalking and perhaps, a little weird. However, if you have something new going on in your business, it’s a good reason to reach out to them again.
In closing, don’t take it personally if you don’t hear back – reporters are busy! Keep in mind that no response doesn’t mean you’re idea isn’t good. Good pitches and good contacts tend to get saved in folders for future reference. PR in generally tends to ebb and flow, a little momentum often carries you a long way. Hang in there!
These 10 points on how to get picked up by the press is courtesy of the PR Web blog.