By Penny C. Sansevieri, Adjunct Instructor NYU & CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
How often does your small business make headlines in your local media market? On average, the media rejects 95% of the pitches they receive. How can you become part of the 5% that get picked up for a story? This two-part series explores the reasons that many pitches get rejected and also offers tips that will help you refine your ability to pitch stories and effectively gain media coverage.
Let’s begin with a few reasons why pitches get rejected and keep in mind that these aren’t the only reasons, but certainly the majority of them:
Uninteresting email subject lines: Often your pitch is judged by the subject line. Make it something interesting. Make it a catchy headline or risk getting relegated to the delete bin.
Long emails: I don’t know about you, but I hate reading long emails. The media hates it even more; in fact many of my media friends have told me that if they have to scroll through a pitch, they often won’t consider it unless it comes from a very trusted source. How long is too long? If you can read it on the screen without scrolling down, you’re in good shape.
Non-compelling topics: You won’t get attention for your topic just because you pitch it. It has to be timely, unique, and relevant to the audience they serve. Think HUH: Hip, Unique, and Helpful.
An opened email isn’t always a sure bet: Even if your email gets opened, it might still get deleted, here’s why: For all of the above reasons. Create a tight, focused pitch that isn’t too long and stays on topic. This will increase your chances that the media will read it through.
Not relevant: What I mean by this is that it’s not relevant to the audience the media outlet serves. Don’t think for a minute that just because you find it interesting and compelling that your media target will. For example, I once had an author tell me about the amazing world of fly fishing, and then insist that Oprah would be interested in this topic. Really? I think not so much. Watch the show, listen to the broadcast, or read the blog or publication – before pitching.
A false sense of urgency: Often I find that folks pitching, in order to get noticed, will call upon a false sense of urgency. Yes, it’s urgent that we fix our school systems. Yes, it’s urgent that we clean up the environment. Neither of these things are going to blow up tomorrow so don’t pitch them as though they are. While it might make for a more compelling pitch, it will only serve to paint you as an unreliable and often excitable source. Neither of these are good.
Unknown senders: An unknown source or sender may be considered an unreliable one. It’s easy enough to get to know the media long before you start pitching. And I highly recommend that you do so.
Now that we have identified a few reasons as to why your pitches are being rejected, next week we’ll talk about ways that you can make yourself and your pitches gain media attention in an article titled, “Thirty Ways to Make Yourself and Your Small Business Irresistible to the Media.
Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. Follow on Twitter @Bookgal.
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