Tips on DIY media outreach

Finding the right media contact is not an easy task, especially as of late, with media continually evolving  and reporters changing roles and outlets.  One would think that it would be easier given the digital media landscape with information literally at our  finger tips – but that’s not necessarily the case. Twitter accounts with profiles descriptions such as “Ottawa Citizen Reporter” are not overly helpful in finding the right media contact at The Citizen to share your story, am I right?

In a perfect world, reporters would update their social media accounts with bio information that described what they cover in more detail. Here are a few examples of Ottawa Citizen reporters who do this well.  (Most reporters from the Citizen and other outlets also do this well – we chose these three examples – there are others.  In addition, many twitter accounts for media outlets also provide twitter lists of their reporters by topic).  

At a quick glance, you can tell if your story is the right fit for these reporters:

Image of Janet Wilson's twitter profileImage of Pauline Tam's Twitter profileSome even provide email addresses to share story ideas and invite followers to other social media channels as in this last example.

Image of Meghan Hurley's Twitter profile

3 Steps to a Successful Pitch  

Beyond the obvious of delivering news value, the key to pitching  is to understand reporters and what they’re really looking for. I recommend that if you want to dabble in DIY media outreach, that you follow these three steps.

  1. Read the tweets and Facebook updates from media outlets.
  2. Watch the conversations being created around the news that is being reported.  Follow Twitter feeds. Be an observer of news for your industry.
  3. Follow the source of the news. Find the names of the reporters who cover your specific topic and search for articles by those reporters.  Subscribe to their feeds. Get a sense of their writing style, what they do and do not cover to better target your pitch.

One last thing…

When pitching a story idea, it’s important to understand the life of a reporter. Here is a link to an older post you might find helpful, or at the very least – insightful.  http://storylinepr.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/a-reporters-job-and-yours/

Reporters, I ask you this…

Wouldn’t it be nice to read ONLY pitches on topics you cover? Granted, this approach of full disclosure on social media profiles, may open the floodgates to more pitches. It will also not stop the non-news marketing pitches being disguised as press releases, nor will it stop those who do not do their homework, but don’t you think it will lessen the number of times you have to hit the delete key? Who knows – there may be gem or two in there that you would have not otherwise received!

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