Media Relations and the Frustrated Wine Writer
I want to demonstrate an example of a failure of both the skill and principles using an email pitch that was sent to me yesterday.
I recently started a wine import company focusing on terroir – driven wines. Getting it off the ground takes a lot of work even with a really good portfolio. We would benefit greatly from press coverage of our new company. I’m hoping you will consider writing a story at Ferment (sic).
No doubt this new import company could use some press coverage. In fact, positive press coverage that explores a company’s unique contribution to an industry or region, for example, will yield exposure for the company and its products/services that can then be further exploited via social media and with partners. Done right media relations works and works really well.
But as I said, there are skills involved and some principles that need to be adhered to. Conscientious sales people will recognize these skills and principles:
–Be a good writer. Not great. Good will do.
-Spell things correctly.
-Always check to make sure you have names of people and publications correct.
-Recognize the difference between a good story and a run-of-the-mill tale.
-Research the media person’s writing before pitching so that you know whether or not there is any chance at all they will be open to the story idea you are bringing them.
-Whether calling or emailing them, keep your story idea pitch short, to the point, compelling and in line with the kind of stories and articles they tend to write.
-Be willing to take “no” for an answer and move on.
-If the story you are pitching can easily be applied to another company in the same industry, then stop what you are doing and start over considering what makes the company, service or product unique.
-Be flexible. If you are asking a writer or journalist to meet you or with your client, it’s going to be on their schedule.
-Keep notes on who you’ve reached out to and when. It’s easy to forget you did so and stupidly repeat the pitch. Plus, going over notes and outcomes will a good idea of which story ideas work and which don’t.
-Always have background material ready to send, but don’t send it with the story pitch if reaching out via email. If they ask for information, send it.
-Never lie. Ever.
-Always tell the truth.
The person who contacted me violated 6 of the items noted above. That’s not to say there isn’t a really interesting story embedded in this new company. I just have no idea what it is and have no good reason to investigate.
Another thing to keep in mind is this because it will make it easier to start reaching out to media: Writers and editors and journalists GET what you are doing and why. They do the very same thing all the time. They pitch stories to editors that they want to write and they have to adhere to the same rules, principles, and skills I’ve noted above. It’s one of the reasons you often see publicists and writers migrating back and forth through the same door throughout their careers.
Use media relations as part of your marketing. If it’s done right, it will produce a healthy ROI. But if it’s done wrong, you may be the inspiration for a blog post by a frustrated wine blogger.