March 2023 Event Recap
Amy Mertz, owner of Brick Road PR; Maggie Ginsberg, Senior Editor at Madison Magazine; and Samara Kalk Derby, Reporter at The Capital Times are no strangers to media pitches. In fact, Maggie and Samara have inboxes full of them every day. But how do businesses and organizations make sure their stories rise to the top?
The Power of Media Coverage
Media coverage is extremely valuable. It gives businesses and organizations credibility while also reaching a larger audience.
“People tend to trust news media because they’re trained journalists,” Amy said. “You’re always gaining brand awareness with media coverage and if you’re appearing multiple times, people see your name and you also get established as a trusted source for future stories if your interview goes well.”
With hundreds of media pitches coming in each and every day, outlets are looking for stories that are going to stand out. Outlets naturally gravitate to stories that meet several of the following criteria:
- Relevant to the outlet’s audience
- Demonstrate economic impact
- Exhibit novelty
- Are trendy
- Present a solution to an existing problem
- Good news
- Have not been recently covered
Targeting the Pitch
Before making a pitch, it is important to get to know the media and find a good match for the story you are proposing.
“There is nothing more frustrating to a reporter than getting a pitch that is not really for them,” Amy said. “Try to get a good match for the kind of audience you’re trying to reach.”
Get to know the media by following their social accounts, subscribing to their news outlet’s emails or publications, watching their newscasts and reading up on past stories they have covered.
“I like to say research, read and repeat,” Amy said. “It helps you know the topics they have covered earlier and helps you personalize your pitch and make it a little more applicable to the platform you are reaching out to.”
The Pitch Itself
Once you’ve determined the story and researched the media, it’s time to shoot your shot. Both Maggie and Samara agree that email is the best way to reach journalists, but personalizing that request and making it clear what the story angle is generally leads to better results.
“It’s good to have a date in mind, specifics and answer the question ‘Why do people care?’,” Amy said.
Samara suggests keeping emails concise while also providing information that will help guide the story and provide clarity on the topic. Helpful items to include with story suggestions include:
- Press releases with quotes.
- Links to photos and video footage that are easy to access.
- Fact sheets, infographics, staff bios or other materials.
- Website URL, social media handle links and emails for story contacts.
When it comes to email, however, space is limited. Sending large attachments through cloud links is the best way to keep your pitch at the front of media inboxes.
“If somebody sends a couple of large files, I am going to delete that email,” Maggie said. “A link to Flickr or Dropbox or somewhere you can get attachments easily that’s not actually in the email is way more efficient.”
After the Story Runs
Once you have made your pitch and if you are fortunate enough that the reporter takes your lead, it’s time to do your due diligence.
“Once your story runs, you’re really excited, and the first thing I like to do is say thank you,” Amy said.
Along with the thank you, it is a good idea to ask for any plans for social sharing of the story and to add the story links to your website news page. Also congratulate and tag any other businesses who are mentioned in the story, and ask that they do the same when they share it.
“Encourage your employees and colleagues to share that coverage after the fact,” Amy said. “And don’t be afraid to take it a step further and utilize positive coverage and testimonials after the fact.”
Thanks to SMBMad volunteer Cassie Sonnentag for writing this month’s event recap.
Goodman Community Center (GCC) strengthens lives and secures futures throughout the greater Madison area. Located in the heart of Madison’s Atwood neighborhood, GCC offers programs for preschoolers through teens, families, individuals and older adults. The GCC has on-site childcare services, including fully licensed and accredited preschool, 4K and elementary after-school programs, as well as a teen center that offers after-school activities and employment opportunities for teens. The center’s food pantry serves more than 200 households a week and is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and they also offer meals, social activities and health and wellness opportunities for seniors.
Accessibility is a top priority of the Goodman Center, and as such most of the center’s programs are free or priced to be very affordable, including access to its fitness center, catering services and community spaces. Every year in November, the Goodman Center hosts its Thanksgiving Basket Drive, when they collect donations to provide thousands of Dane County families with everything they need to make a Thanksgiving meal at home. Stay up to date on what’s happening at Goodman by following them on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Goodman Community Center was an awardee of one of the SMBMad 2022 DreamGrants. We look forward to sharing the grant’s impact story in the future!