How to Pitch a Story to a Reporter Without Offending Them

The best way to get information in the hands of reporters without wasting their – or your – time.
August 28, 2020 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When it comes to pursuing media coverage, a company is often laser-focused on getting a pitch into a reporter’s hands and winning them over. In the process, it may be easy to forget that reporters are people, too. They’re busy professionals who might feel annoyed or even repulsed by awkward email pitches or follow-ups.

Marketing teams can approach media outlets and get the desired media coverage without hounding them. Here are the do’s and don’ts of reporter engagement.

Related: How to Spot Real News from Fake News Online: A Definitive Guide

What not to do

Let’s start with what you should not do when it comes to approaching reporters, especially those you barely know.

Ignoring boundaries

Let’s say you met a reporter briefly online or at a recent conference. From there, you added them on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, and maybe the reporter added you, too. So far, so good.

However, if you jump right into pitching your company or sending a press release via a private social media chat, you’ll most likely not get what you want. The same goes for trying a “cold” phone call out of the blue. These approaches are offensive, because you’re not acknowledging their right to privacy. No reporter wants to be hit with PR pitches that way. You are assuming the reporter is using this channel for reporting purposes, when that might not be the case. And in any event, no one wants to feel used.

Telling reporters what to write

Another mistake is thinking you are in control of what news story a reporter should write. Doing so assumes you and your brand are more important than the reporter. No reporter wants to hear or feel that. They and the editorial staff at their publication are in control of their professional output, and it’s up to you to determine how to provide them with value.

Delivering promotional content

Reporters are not salespeople, marketers or even influencers. It’s not their job to sell your story ideas, products or services. Rather, their job is to tell newsworthy stories and share insightful, valuable information with their audiences.

Related: Be Careful How ‘Fyre’d’ up You Get About Influencer Marketing

Not taking “no” for an answer

If a journalist tells you that they are not interested in your pitch, they mean it. By the same token, if they don’t respond to your first or second emails, they are also letting you know your ideas don’t work for them. If you continue to push your pitches on them because you can’t take no for an answer, then it may adversely impact your reputation in the media community.

Reaching reporters the right way

Now, let’s look at some effective strategies and approaches to working with reporters.

Get to know who you’re working with

Before your initial pitch, learn more about the media contact. Google them. Also, there are databases with reporter information like Cision where you can search reporters by name and read about their contact preferences for pitches, including format and focus.

Reporters might also have a website or list their niches on their social media profiles. You can also visit their publication and read what they’ve published. Then you can align your email subject line and media pitch to their preferences and previous work, including whether they or their publication are interested in publishing guest articles, breaking news, sector or trends overviews, or product reviews.

If you are following them on social media channels, take the time to scroll through their feed to see what they post, how they interact with those who ask questions and what type of visuals they share. Reporters will see you did your homework and appreciate the effort you’ve made to address their subject matter interests or preferences.

Related: 5 Tips on How to Pitch Your Startup to Get the Press You Need

Cultivate relationships

From there, you need to start building a relationship without asking them to do anything for you. Consider retweeting them and sharing their articles, or those of their publication. Comment substantively on their content and develop your relationship from there. Don’t expect anything in return.

Focus on helping

Begin to introduce and share information that can help the reporter and his or her audience. You can also locate journalists on sites like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and deliver your thought leadership when reporters actively ask for it.

Journalists also want to create stories that set them apart from their colleagues, partly so they can win followers and the respect of the industry. Help them do this by delivering new insights, data and perspectives on trending topics the reporter covers.

Another approach to press coverage is to offer writers alternative viewpoints around a trending story or topic. This is especially useful because reporters might be seeking a counter-argument to the popular narrative rather than just repeating what everyone else shares.

Be respectful

Always be respectful of a reporter’s time and privacy. Optimize pitch distribution to reporters during regular working hours and avoid evenings and weekends when a journalist might want to be left alone.

Be patient

Overall, it’s crucial to develop a strong sense of patience when pitching reporters, whether it’s your first time or a follow-up. There are no immediate results with media coverage or public relations. It’s a slow build that requires thoughtful planning and methodical tactics focused on reporter or publication needs. Taking your time and following these best practices will yield results.

Related: 5 Reasons That Reporter Isn’t Calling You Back

This Email Marketing Tool Can Increase Your Engagement Without Increasing Costs

A lifetime subscription to Kirim Email is just $40.
August 1, 2020 2 min read
Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Email marketing is still the most popular, budget-friendly, and effective method of digital marketing. As such, it should be an integral part of any entrepreneur’s marketing strategy.

However, email marketing is not completely infallible. People sometimes subscribe to lists more than once, change email addresses, or have spam filters up that keep your emails from reaching them. With all of these barriers, you could be paying a fortune for email marketing providers and tools that are only a fraction as effective as they could be. Fortunately, there are ways around that.

Kirim Email is a web-based email marketing platform that can solve problems like duplicate email addresses and other issues quickly. It can help you boost your customer engagement while cutting your marketing costs, which is why it’s trusted by more than 18,000 businesses. Its built-in email validation technology provides a single dashboard to delete duplicates and validate each email address on your list. It automatically removes spam traps, bots, and zombie emails that can hurt your standing with your email service provider, and allows you to run campaigns directly with Telegram, WordPress, Facebook, and more, reducing the amount of code you have to write.

As you run campaigns, Kirim Email allows you to collect surveys with Google Forms and Google Sheets and sync them directly to your emails without third-party add-ons. This way, you can learn more about your customers without having to shell out extra money on data collection. You can even build complete landing pages—without paying any more.

Kirin Email was named a #2 Product of the Day on Product Hunt for good reason. It can save your business money and get more out of your email marketing without hiring more heads. Normally $163, a lifetime subscription to Kirim Email is just $39.99 today.

How to Build a Consistent, Powerful Brand Without Hiring an Agency

Avoid brand fragmentation with this service’s customizable branding tools.
June 24, 2020 2 min read
Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

For small businesses, building brand recognition can be difficult. How do you stand out in an economy dominated by the branding likes of McDonald’s and Coca-Cola? You don’t have to be that recognizable to be successful, of course, but building an identifiable, trustworthy brand in your community or industry can be an integral part of your success.

For many small businesses, hiring a design and marketing team to build your brand up isn’t feasible. If that’s the case, you need to turn to an alternative like 1Brand Creative Brand Strategies.

This service allows you to create and power seamless branding for all of your goods and services in a centralized, easy-to-use, affordable hub. 1Brand was initially created to reduce brand fragmentation; eliminating the proliferation of low-quality images or outdated imagery or logo design. Now, 1Brand’s software helps you create effective, consistent branding from scratch that will drive results and, most importantly, remain consistent.

With 1Brand Pro, you get custom brand guidelines and powerful brand asset management, allowing you to fully customize your brand and ensure all of your assets are consistent in any medium. It has 256 colors, 256 logos, 256 fonts, color models, premium cover designs, and many more features to keep your messaging and logos consistent. With embedded and shareable guidelines, PDF export support, and custom attribution, you can collaborate seamlessly with consultants, agencies, marketing teams, and more to ensure that your brand always has proper representation.

Keep your brand’s messaging crisp, clean, and consistent. A lifetime subscription to 1Brand Creative Brand Strategies is on sale now for just $99.

Create Incredible Branding Initiatives Without Hiring Design Help

PixTeller PRO makes it easy to design campaigns without hiring outside help.
February 5, 2020 2 min read
Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

As the internet becomes more and more saturated with ads, it becomes ever more important for small businesses to gain every advantage they can. Chances are if you’re still in the growth stages of your business, you may not have the capital to bring on a complete marketing and design team. However, with PixTeller PRO, you can create engaging, conversion-worthy designs all by yourself, without needing to hire a graphic designer.

PixTeller lets you create and customize images for tons of mediums, from websites and social media to print and e-books. Even if you’ve never used a design software, PixTeller makes it easy, with more than 134,000 templates, 1.5 million photos, and 100,000 shapes to browse from and customize to make them fully your own. (You can also upload your own photos or vectors.)

With a vast selection of fonts, gradients, and tools, you can seamlessly transform templatized items into complete designs that perfectly reflect your brand. No idea how to present designs? PixTeller has a clipping and cropping function to help you find the perfect file size for any media.

Supercharge your branding efforts without breaking the bank. PixTeller PRO subscriptions are on sale today. Get a one-year subscription for 81 percent off $108 at just $19.99, a two-year subscription for 86 percent off $216 at just $29.99, or a three-year subscription at 84 percent off $324 at just $49.99.

Here’s How to Make Stunning Social Media Videos (Without Being a Tech Wiz)

Video content is king, but you don’t have to be a technology expert to create it.
January 8, 2020 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Unsurprisingly, video content has quickly become an essential part of social media branding. According to research from Renderforest, video content on social media generates 1,200 percent more shares than text and images, and 90 percent of viewers state that a video helps them determine whether they will buy a product. But if you have a small marketing team or lack professional equipment or know-how, the idea of creating a stunning social media video can seem impossible.

However, this doesn’t have to be the case. In reality, even those without any tech-savvy can create engaging, well-crafted video content that drives social media engagement. You just need the right process — and the right tools. Here are some guidelines for making it happen.

Related: 5 Ways Social Media Video Will Benefit Your B2B Business in 2020

Leverage existing content.

For many who are new to creating video content, even the idea of coming up with topic ideas can seem intimidating. The good news is if you’ve been doing your due diligence in other areas, you already have a great source of video content ideas: your old blog posts.

Look at your most popular or most shared posts to get a better idea of which topics most resonated with your audience. Typing your blog URL into a site like BuzzSumo is an easy way to determine which entries generated the most engagement. Once you know what’s performed best in the past, you can start repurposing what you’ve already written to formulate your video script.

In a blog post for Social Media Examiner, Serena Ryan recommends creating videos that target different portions of the marketing funnel: brand awareness, building relationships and making the sales pitch. “Your videos might not use all of the content from your blog post,” she writes. “Your main goal is to deliver the material most relevant to each part of your funnel. Choose the best content to create a one- or two-minute video with the information your funnel requires. To pack the most value into each video, cut introductions and instead display text or titles in the lower third. What’s important is to get your message across clearly and succinctly.”

Set things up for quality recording.

You can certainly film social videos using only your smartphone, but to get good results, you still need to set yourself up with the right equipment. For example, a sturdy tripod will stabilize your smartphone to avoid shaky, handheld camera-esque footage. The right lighting will drastically improve image quality and make it easier to edit your video later on. Soft, natural light is best. Try to avoid harsh shadows or bright sunlight. If you’ll be speaking in front of the camera, arrange the lighting so that your face is evenly lit.

The right location can make all the difference. After all, if you’re filming a product video, you don’t want a busy background to distract from the product itself. If you’ll be speaking in front of the camera rather than dubbing in a voiceover, you’ll need to film in a quiet area free of excessive background noise. Speak directly into a microphone, and focus on your enunciation so that your voice is easy to understand.

Take advantage of user-friendly editing apps for polish.

Once filming is complete, you’ll need to edit your video to give it a quality look. Fortunately, editing is no longer limited to film experts. One tool that I’ve found to be particularly helpful is VideoBoost, a free app in the BoostApps suite that offers easy-to-use templates and animations that can integrate with your business’s logo, as well as trimming and formatting for various social platforms and helpful editing filters. You can add your own video and text or use stock footage and pre-written copy.

You should also be mindful of how different social media platforms can influence your video formatting. For example, Instagram videos have a maximum length of 60 seconds, and most users prefer a square 1:1 aspect ratio that matches the style of photos found in their feed. With Facebook, on the other hand, you can post videos as long as 120 minutes (not that that’s recommended). Landscape video in a 16:9 ratio is preferred. Don’t let the wrong formatting throw off your marketing efforts.

Related: What All High-Performing Social Media Videos Have in Common

Creating engaging video content that you can share on your social platforms doesn’t require that you purchase expensive film equipment or hire a video-editing tool. By following these practices and taking advantage of the resources that are readily available to you, you can create great, dynamic content without breaking your marketing budget.