Got a great small-business story idea? Want to pitch it to an editor but don’t know how? There are some approaches you can take that will make an editor more likely to receive and perhaps follow up on your pitch. Here’s the scoop.
Do your homework first
First, make sure that the editor at your local newspaper covers your subject matter. There is nothing worse than pitching an editor who doesn’t follow your market. Check to verify that the editor covers small businesses like your own. If it’s your local paper, make a point of reading it regularly to know the type of stories they run.
If you have a great small-business story idea, take that to an editor. Email your pitch to the small-business editor at your local newspaper. Be short and to the point — one paragraph should do — and make sure it has a catchy subject line.
Most editors prefer contact by email. However, it is not appropriate to send them 5 emails a day or even 10 over the course of a week. You’re pitching them, not stalking them.
If you don’t hear back in a day or two, try again one more time
Your first email may be sitting in the SPAM filter so send another pitch email, short and sweet. Editors are very busy people who are inundated with pitches and information, so they appreciate short, to-the-point messages. They have constant deadlines and are often juggling many different PR requests.
Still no answer? Call
Introduce yourself briefly and say why you are calling.
“I’m Jane Smith, owner of the New Look Gallery on Main Street, and I sent you information about our showing of young artists from the local high school that is happening next week.”
Pitch your idea next. This is your elevator pitch.
Ask questions to gauge his/her interest. “What did you think of the idea? Would you like to speak to any of the young artists? Do you need any other information?”
If the editor asks questions, answer them promptly. Often the editor can’t cover your type of story right now because of something else. If the editor says that s/he isn’t able to write your story but is still interested, that’s a good sign. Ask when you should follow up again.
Be prepared for rejection. If the answer is no, respect it. Don’t argue. Respect their time and their answer, if they turn you down. You need to develop a thick skin and not take anything they say personally.
Are you uncomfortable with following up?
Don’t worry about bothering editors, as long as you are professional. They know that it is part of your job as someone trying to get coverage for your small business. Remember, they are busy and juggling many deadlines and story ideas. Your follow-up call or email can be like a hotel wake-up call. Just a gentle reminder.
Remember that it usually takes several different calls or email pitches to “sell” your idea to an editor who seems interested. So, if you expect that, you won’t feel so rejected.
Still need help? Call a PR pro
Call the PR pros for more advice or to have them make the connection with the editor for you. Call us at Martell Communications, 408-462-1074 or email us at cmartell (at) martellpr (dot) com.
If you would like to read some additional opinions on the topic, we thought these bloggers had some good tips: