Pitch to Print Media:
It is now time to implement everything you have just read. Pitching to the media requires three things: A media list, media kit, and pitch.
A good media list is the most difficult item to acquire without a monitoring service. A media monitoring service is like Firm Finder on ASLA.org, except it costs hundreds of dollars a year.
A media list consists of pertinent journalist and publications who are most likely to pick up your story. A media list may include TV, radio, and print and will have anywhere from 10-30 names of local journalist.
If you are pitching to a niche audience, then perhaps the list will only have a few, key contacts listed.
Mike Cowden, ASLA’s PR Coordinator, will be happy to use ASLA’s media monitoring service to create a media list for your pitch. The ASLA PR team has vast experience working with the media and creating lists. If you, as the member, explain your goal and objectives to the coordinator, they should produce a list of local or regional media tailored to your needs.
A media kit may be as simple as a press release. It could also include elements such as a FAQs sheet, CD/DVDs, PowerPoint’s. Whatever form your media kit takes, its purpose should be to give more information to the journalist with whom you are communicating.
If you have a member who has volunteered their time to pitch to the media, a media kit outlines the messages and pitch points you’d like them to use. If you are having an event, your chapter can hand out kits to the media who attend.
Large, expensive media kits are usually not necessary, unless your chapter is hosting a large event and hoping to have a large media attendance. Most often, the press release and FAQs sheet can be e-mailed to a journalist. Be sure to paste the entire release into the body of the e-mail and attach the FAQs sheet for the journalist to read if they should seek more information.
Organize your pitch well before you start calling reporters. A pitch made over the phone should be rehearsed, be only thirty seconds long, and in that thirty seconds, contain everything a reporter needs to know: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.
— Create and practice your pitch. Before picking up the phone, practice verbalizing your talking points.
— Do not be discouraged by “no’s” or voice mails. Journalists have strict deadlines and can be hard to reach. When targeting a particular publication, radio station, blogger, or TV affiliate, consider identifying several reporters or editors at that same outlet who might be interested in your story.
– Make it relevant. Make sure the story idea you are proposing is suitable for the reporter you are calling.
– Be clear, concise, and convincing. If you need to leave a message, speak clearly and be sure to provide your phone number directly after stating your name, then leave your number again at the end of the message. Avoid providing too many details or talking points in a voice message.
– Follow-up. Always provide a reporter with follow-up communication. For example, if you had a conversation with a reporter who seemed interested, you should aim to follow-up that same day with an e-mail containing supporting, value-added information. This can help build your relationship and credibility with the media.
Telephone Pitch Example: Hi, my name is (NAME) and I am calling from the (STATE) chapter of The American Society of Landscape Architects.
I wanted to let you know about the (AWARD) that (MEMBER NAME) received for their project (PROJECT NAME AND LOCATION).
Pause here to see if reporter says anything; continue with pitch if nothing is said during pause.
(PROJECT NAME) is significant to our community because it… (give two reasons why it is important or improves area).
Would you be interested in covering (EVENT)
Would this be something you publication would be interested in covering?
Okay, thank you for your time.
Opinion-Editorial (Op-Ed) Piece
An op-ed piece is commentary in your local newspaper’s editorial page that can be used to examine an issue or to explain your opponent’s position on an issue. Start out with a premise and support it with facts, expert opinion, and personal experience. The piece should be no more than four pages, double spaced, and should be mailed to the Opinion-Editorial Editor. To learn more about writing an op-ed, read the editorials in your local newspaper. If you are planning an event, send out an op-ed piece ten days prior.
Online Outreach Program
Online Editorial Outreach (OEO) programs generate favorable online editorial coverage and word-of-mouth communications through the development of relationships with digital publishers and influencers.
Begin with an initial audit or scan of the existing online conversations surrounding your topic. Analyze key influencers and channels (including blogs, discussion boards, online communities, forums and Web sites), aiming to focus your efforts on the most prominent outlets.
With your key targets identified, outreach will begin. A press release, focusing on current work should circulate to bloggers and online publishers. Links throughout the release will direct targets to your chapter’s site.
The objective being to provide online influencers with information so they write an original piece about your initiative and post to their site.
Some quick tips:
Bloggers like to research on-line. They do not conduct polls or on-the street survey’s; they scour the web for any information they can before making a conclusion or endorsing a product. Make sure to know exactly what, if anything, is being said about you chapter, your company, or project before you begin outreach to bloggers.
They will find any criticism and if they agree with your critic’s stance, instead of yours, this outreach could have the exact opposite affect. You reached out for an ally, but instead found an adversary.
• Heightened discussion and “buzz” around your project or initiative
• Established thought leadership or increased profile for key spokespeople.
• Higher traffic to your state chapter’s page.
• Credible third-party endorsement/discussion of topic.