It was a warm March afternoon, and I was late for a test in my senior year of college. Luckily, the class was a journalism class. My professor understood that I'd just launched my career.
And, it all started with a simple letter to a producer at a big Hollywood studio.
Even a College Student Can Get Media Attention
I was late to my test because I was talking to a producer of a big sports show. Maybe you’ve heard of it? The Best Damned Sports Show Period! with Tom Arnold.
I was interning with a pizza trade publication called PMQ Magazine, and they asked me to work on some press releases. I had a project due for school, so I was multi-purposing the content I sent to that producer for my portfolio.
I never expected to get that call, but I’m so glad I took it. The person I got on the show was a Domino’s guy from Findlay, Ohio. He had just become the U.S. champion for the “fastest pizza maker.” It’s an actual competition that takes place on a national and international level.
Panning 5 Pizzas in 13 Seconds = National Television Coverage
The short of it is that we sent this pizza guy to Los Angeles and he showed the cast how to pan out five pizza crusts in 13 seconds on national television.
So, to get to the point of my post, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a chef with an agent to get local or even national press. You just have to be creative and effective in communicating why your story matters to the editor or producer or blogger or reviewer.
How to Find Media Contacts
The tips she gave were great, but something we didn’t go into very detail about was how to build a list of contacts.
I’m here to tell you a few secrets on how to find out who these people are and ways to attract their attention:
- Start with the publication or blog website. Then, look for their About Us pages. That’s just a starting point. You can also call the publication and tell them you want to speak to the editor in charge of business, community or lifestyle news. You probably won’t get them on the phone, but you can leave a voicemail introducing yourself. Follow it up with an email noting your voicemail. In this email, you can include a few story ideas.
- What about local TV? It’s very similar. Check out the website first. Then call and find out with whom you need to speak.
- Comment on blogs. Most editors and television personalities have some sort of social media presence now. You can comment on their posts and make suggestions for stories. Producers and editors get many of their story ideas from the comments on articles and videos.
- Check out HARO. It’s a service reporters/bloggers/producers use to find sources on articles or spots they are working on. Help a Reporter Out by replying to requests for pitches. You can also get story ideas to write your own press release to your local media.
- Join your local Chamber of Commerce. Often, one of the services offered by your local Chamber is a list of relevant media contacts. The reason for this organization is to advance commerce in your county or town. Seek guidance on PR contacts from this resource. If you get press that drives business, they are succeeding in helping promote commerce.
Making Your Story Worth Their Time is the Key
Finding media contacts is not that hard to do. Getting their attention is the hard part. And, and as Janet says, the more relevant your story angle is on a hot issue or event, the more likely you are to attract their attention.