Want press for your business, but can’t figure out how to get a publication’s attention? According to Entrepreneur magazine’s editor-in-chief, Jason Feifer, you have to first understand how journalists think.
“Reporters don’t just want to hear success stories; they want to hear problem-solving stories,” he writes. “The reason isn’t because we thirst for drama; it’s because ‘Here’s how I did this’ is way more interesting than ‘Here’s why I’m awesome.’ Think about it: Which would you rather read? No matter the issue, that’s the story you should tell.”
Feifer will be digging in much deeper on a Facebook Live on Jan 18. at 1:30 pm EST, giving you even more insight into how to successfully pitch yourself, talk about your business to a reporter, and why you want media attention in the first place. You can sign up to be reminded at the bottom of the page.
Feifer writes about this subject every month in his editor’s note. Here are three tips from past issues:
1. Highlight surprising details that make you stand out.
“Editors have to say no a lot. It’s the nature of the business: We can’t possibly publish every interesting thing we come across. But remember that when an editor says no, they’re really saying, “You didn’t tell me something that fits my needs.” That’s why you should step back. Consider what makes you memorable — because it may not be the basic details of your business or your success. It could be a risk you took. A problem you solved in a creative way. A crazy strategy you adopted. Or, better yet, some other thing I can’t even anticipate. Editors want to surprise their readers, which means you want to surprise the editors. So think differently, and surprise yourself first.” (Full column)
2. You may not be the story — but you can be part of the story.
“I get it: You want the big showcase, the feature, the photo shoot. And you should! But the truth is, we run very few of them. Only six stories in our December issue focus solely on a single company. The bar for a profile is incredibly high — I’m looking for that perfect mix of timeliness, an interesting company, a founder with a compelling and relatable story and know-it-when-I-see-it intangibles — so simply pitching yourself or your brand isn’t the most direct way into this, or probably any, publication. I have to say no to pitches like this all day, every day.
That’s why you should consider reframing your pitch. Don’t make it about you. Instead, write a reporter some (far more detailed) version of this: ‘Hey. Here’s this really interesting new thing happening in my field; it’s important and not enough people know about it. I’d be happy to share details about how it impacts my business.’ That’s an email every journalist wants to open. The resulting story may not be the big, splashy feature you wanted — but truth be told, you may have never gotten that anyway. This at least gets you press, and you can build your profile from there.” (Full column)
3. Don’t just stick to the talking points.
“For a story about trendy businesses, reporter Ashlea Halpern reached out to 25 trend-chasing entrepreneurs; 17 got back to her for an interview, and seven were quoted in the resulting story. How did one entrepreneur make the cut over another one? Halpern explains: ‘Sometimes you talk to an entrepreneur and they won’t tell you anything anyone can learn from. It’s as if they think you’re going to give away their trade secrets. The best interviewees are the most transparent. They talk actual numbers. They’re willing to admit mistakes and explain, in detail, how they overcame them.'”