The publicity was working and for a moment I was almost famous. she didn't want my
autograph, but she did take my business card. publicity works, it's important, and you need
to be ready for anything.
For the most part, the act of making a suggestion to reporters, if they think your lead is
newsworthy, will lead to one of two types of coverage:
n A story created from scratch built around the story angle you suggest (i.e., a feature story
on your company, a story about a big gamble on a Super Bowl commercial, a cutting-edge
new program that you invent, etc.)
n The inclusion of your company or service in an already existing story (i.e., the reporter is
already working on a story about your field, and your lead results in your being included in
Another way to get the press's attention is to write a press release. Simply put, a press re-
lease is a news story (that you write) that presents the most newsworthy aspect of your
company and services in a format and language familiar to a journalist. A good press re-
lease places the newsworthy angle at the very top (much like the lead paragraph of a well-
written news story) and is free of hype and over-promotion. It's factual and interesting and
needs to grab the reporter's attention within a line or two. Paragraphs subsequent to the
lead may include background information, spokesperson quotations, and other information
that can help put the newsworthiness of the story in perspective.
Press releases can be submitted through a press release service for a fee, with a plethora of
vendors on the Internet available to assist.
You can also write a journalist directly, by submitting a pitch letter. While the press release
is written in third person, the pitch letter allows for direct communication between you and
the reporter. It's an opportunity to pique interest, form a relationship, and persuade. Bad
pitch letters begin with boring formalities or promotional hype. Good pitch letters begin
with a striking opening that immediately alerts the journalist to an interesting story possib-
ility (e.g., if I'm promoting a new charitable program, “Mission Repair is donating 5 per-
cent of all repair profits to local schools”).
The pitch letter has one purpose: to persuade the journalist to read the attached press re-
lease. Personalize it, keep it short, personally sign it, clip it to the front of your press re-
lease, and mail it to your media outlets of choice. Try the TV stations.