Does your shelter or rescue group struggle with getting press coverage? If so, you’re not alone. Competition for journalists’ time is fierce. Knowing a few tips on how to stand out can help you and your animals get time in the public spotlight.
The first step is having a solid press list. This is a living spreadsheet of press contacts to pitch your stories to. It can be anyone from TV reporters, newspaper journalists, bloggers and everyone in between. The list has their contact information, notes and anything else you want to include about them.
One of the most important things to remember when building your list? Do your research.
While it may seem time consuming, taking the time to do your research will help you in the long run. (This is something a volunteer can do from home!) Find out which of your local press contacts are most likely to cover your stories. Which journalists have covered stories about your organization or industry in the past? Add them to the list and make note of any stories that are relevant.
Look at their bio on their company’s website. Does it mention anything about a pet, that they love animals, or are giving back to the community? Add them to the list and make a note of any pets and their names, or other personal information that you could reference in a pitch.
Once you have your press list you’ll be ready to pitch the next time you have a story you want to share. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when pitching stories.
- Make it personal. Instead of sending the same email with numerous contacts blind copied, send a personal email to each from you. Address them by name. Mention one or two of those personal facts. Maybe mention a recent story they did. Start to build the relationship.
- Utilize Twitter. Twitter can be a great way to engage with journalists. Using your organization’s account, follow all of the contacts on your press list and add them to a single list in Twitter. You can make these private so only you can see them. Then, when you have a story you want to pitch, you can tweet it to each of them. You can also view a feed of their tweets that you can engage with to keep your organization top of mind.
- Keep it short. Especially when emailing, keep it short. Briefly explain why you’re emailing, what your story is, and why you thought they (and their audience) would be interested in it. Include links instead of attachments for more information.
- Make it easy for them. Be sure to include the contact information of who to reach out to for more questions, possible interview opportunities, photos or videos, and anything else that will make their jobs easier. Be a resource.
- Don’t just reach out when you need something. Pay attention to other stories they write or cover and genuinely compliment them on one from time to time. Again, build the relationship.
Oh, and if they do a story on your organization? Thank them! A little appreciation goes a long way.