Read this post if: you’re interested in raising your profile in the media but feel scared of being rejected, or if you have doubts about your story being good enough.
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You don’t have to be a freelance journalist to get your story in the media. Any entrepreneur or someone with a story to tell can benefit massively from media coverage.
As an editor, I found business owners felt scared to approach publications with their story. It doesn’t have to be that way at all. Editors are just humans like the rest of us, and they have a job to do. Understanding how to pitch, and when can make all the difference, so let’s try and debunk a few myths and help you get ready to pitch.
1. What’s your story?
You have to be brutally honest here, and it can help to get an outside opinion. Editors are looking for stories that are new and unique. Try the ‘So What’ test on your ideas. If your answer is hazy then chances are it’s not a story. As a guideline, editors look for the following;
Is your story aspirational? The fact that you’ve lost weight isn’t enough. If you’ve achieved it in the face of adversity that an audience can relate to then it could be. Remember though this story isn’t directly about you, it’s what the reader will take from it that will prompt acceptance from an editor.
Is it opinionated? Perhaps you have an opposing view on something that’s topical and currently in the media. It’s OK to be controversial as long as you can support any new facts or findings with credible evidence. If it’s just your view and there’s nothing really new in your opinion that you have less chance of being accepted. Back it up with something the editor hasn’t heard of then you just might be onto a winner.
For a clearer idea on news values and what makes your story newsworthy take a look at the this blog post >> What makes your story newsworthy?
2. Your Credibility
What if you’ve never been published before? How can you establish your credibility and be taken seriously? Everyone has to start somewhere, and in my personal experience I made sure I’d written several blog posts about a topic, I’d appear as a guest blogger on relevant sites (mainly friends I knew, contacts are so important) and I also referred to the number of public speaking events I had been invited to deliver. I made sure my social media presence was up to date, that my bio was consistent and that I’d shared posts on Linkedin which had garnered several comments. My first port of call as a commissioning editor was to do a Google search on the writer. If it showed their credibility and samples of their writing style then I was happy work with them.
3. What do you want to be known for?
This is an important point. Articles stay around forever (if it’s online) and months/years if it’s in print.
For example, whilst I had an extensive knowledge of social media and had fantastic coverage online and in magazines I also had a very personal story of living with a chronic illness (ME/CFS). I had to really think about my WHY. I also had to think about the timing.
I was more interested in growing my business at the time than focusing on a medical condition so during that year I only wrote and spoke about social media. Once I’d grown the business, I found another avenue for my personal story and went on to be published in several womens magazines. There’s no reason why you can’t do both at the same time, but an editor looking at your writing could find this confusing so I always found it more effective to focus on one main topic and become known as the expert in my field.
Over to you!
Take 10 minutes or so now to think about areas that you could write about. Try to think in terms of a series rather than just a ‘one-off’ article – more exposure and you can build a better relationship with the editor.
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Don’t forget to jump over to the Facebook page too and share your ideas, ask questions or tell me about your successes.