Five Ways to Pitch a Story Idea Without a Press Release

Alicia Lawrence

Alicia Lawrence

The following is a guest post from Alicia Lawrence, a contributor for simonoh.com.

The Internet has been blamed for killing everything from newspapers to intelligent discourse to our attention spans.

Now it appears to have claimed another victim: The press release. Press releases have become passé now that there are so many other interesting and unique ways to grab people’s attention. While press releases are easy to ignore, these new techniques are virtually inescapable, guaranteed to gain notice from the person you’re trying to reach.

Whether you’re pitching a story to a magazine or trying to get a blogger’s attention, here are five smart ways to pitch a story idea without resorting to a press release.

1. Social media
Instead of emailing the person you’re trying to get in touch with, why not reach out to them on social media? It shows more effort than simply firing off the same form letter and press release to multiple people. You can find your target’s Twitter handle or LinkedIn account and contact them that way. Bonus: It’s harder to ignore someone who approaches you in public rather than in private.

2. Target a blog post
Say you’re hoping to get coverage in a local agriculture magazine. You can write a blog post about your company’s product that you think would fit perfectly into the features section of the magazine; for example, a new type of organic compost. Then send a link to the blog to the magazine. The blog entry will stand out from all the press releases in the editor’s inbox.

3. Try out Storify
Storify allows you to compile all sorts of different content, such as blog posts, podcasts and videos, into one big post. It’s a unique resource and great for laying out all the elements of your company’s story. For an example, Check out Havahart’s Storify page. Journalists sick of seeing press releases in their inbox are much more likely to take a few minutes to check out a well-crafted Storify post explaining why your company’s new product or program is worthy of coverage.

4. Send a video message
Press releases are impersonal. However, if you take the time to do something really creative, such as sending a personalized video message from the CEO of your company, you stand a much better chance of getting a response. This is probably not the best strategy for every announcement; you don’t need your CEO commenting on the new colors you picked for your website. When you’re pitching a big story, such as a new product or change in management structure, a personalized video could be the way to go.

5. Pick up the phone
Using the phone sounds even more old-fashioned than sending out a press release, right? Wrong. Journalists still make their most valuable connections by talking to sources. If your press releases or even your more creative attempts to get the journalist’s attention have received no response, a quick phone call may explain why. Ask if there’s anything you can do to improve your chances of coverage, and ask what the journalist is looking to do stories on.

At that point, you can reconfigure your pitches in line with his or her responses. Remember, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, preferably without a press release.

Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for a tech company and blogs about online PR in her free time. Continue the conversation with her over on Twitter and Google+.

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