When planning story angles with clients, there are times I will comment that a certain angle would be great for television or that a specific product could be in a magazine’s beauty round-up. With many communications platforms to choose from, pitch angles are not one-size-fits-all. It takes creativity, connections, and experience to know where and how to pitch stories.
This article is the second in a two-part series about choosing a communications platform to best tell your story. In March, I explored the vast world of deciding which social platforms are right for your business. This month, I’ll help you understand which types of media outlets or channels to pitch and why.
Before getting into those specifics, I urge you to do your homework. Read, watch, and listen to the media outlets you pitch. By doing so, you can determine if your brand is a fit based on the topics that are covered and the demographics of the readers, viewers, and listeners. For successful pitching, the deliverables of your brand should correlate with the coverage of the media outlet. For example, if you are a skin care brand that’s carried in spas, industry trade outlets, such as DERMASCOPE, should be on your pitch list. If you own a day spa or skin care center, local media outlets are where you should focus to reach potential clients. If your beauty business is online, there are scores of websites and bloggers to build relationships with.
HOW TO RESEARCH AND REACH MEDIA CONTACTS
This is a larger discussion that I’ll write about later this year. Meanwhile, a few tips:
Every major network has a local affiliate in towns or cities that are of significant size. There are 210 Designated Market Areas (DMAs) listed by Nielsen; New York is number one and number two hundred and ten is Glendive, Montana.
Television is a great lead generation tool. The segment is almost always posted on the station’s website, which you can use for social media, newsletters, and so forth. The segment may air more than once, such as in a morning show and an evening show.
The exposure is large and free, unless you pay to be on a news talk or entertainment show, which is called pay-for-play.
Local stations need local stories. Local television stations dedicated an average of 5.9 hours to news programming per weekday in 2018, up slightly from 5.6 hours in 2017.1
Immediate delivery of your message is another pro. Depending on the timeliness of your story, you could go on the same day that you pitch. If news breaks locally and you have something compelling that is a tie-in, offer your expertise.
Television is great for the spa and beauty industries, as it stimulates the senses. Skin care demonstrations, before and after images, and a b-roll of your facility or products make segments visual and are often required by producers.
Television has a local and regional emphasis. It’s a fantastic medium for reaching people in your market, getting your name out in the community, and establishing credibility.
Television requires a lot of preparation work. At least a basic level of media training is suggested before going on-camera. There’s also the process of selecting clothing, makeup, and hair, and figuring out how to sit or stand, and so on.
You must look and sound your best. If you are live, there are no do-overs. If you are taped and are very nice to the crew, you may be able to reshoot if you say something incorrectly.
Again, television bookings happen quickly. When pitching television, you need to be ready (in town, prepared, have the appropriate clothing, and such.)
Doing in-studio television interviews can be challenging because of the commotion – the lights, the cameras, the microphone, and the teleprompter, and all the while, you need to stay focused and look at the host.
At work, in the car, while making dinner – radio has the broadest reach of any medium. Nielsen reports 227 million adults tune to AM or FM radio each week.2 News and talk radio continues to capture the largest share of the audience, followed by adult contemporary, with country coming in third.3
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention podcasts in this section. 2019 was a breakout year for podcasting. According to Edison Research, more than half of Americans have listened to a podcast, and an estimated 32% listen monthly. Podcast creation also continues to grow, with more than 700,000 podcasts available.4
The estimated total United States daily newspaper circulation (print and digital combined) in 2018 was 28.6 million for weekday and 30.8 million for Sunday.5 The Pew Research Center also reports that among those who get local news from daily newspapers 43% primarily access online, while 54% read in a print format.6 There are more than 1,300 daily newspapers currently in circulation in the United States. “USA Today”, “The New York Times”, and “The Wall Street Journal” have the highest circulations.
Take advantage of newspaper editorial calendars, as they can help you determine where your story might be the best fit.
Community news calendars are also useful. Submit informational and fundraising events that are open to the public.
Send photo recaps. After a successful event, share a couple of high resolution images with a short paragraph and photo caption.
MAGAZINES AND PUBLICATIONS
There were 7, 218 magazines in the United States in 2018. Of course, magazines are now available in both printed and electronic formats. Some of the most popular publications in the United States based on their total reach include “ESPN The Magazine”, “People”, and “AARP The Magazine”.7
More than 4 billion people use the internet. Google is the world’s most visited website, YouTube comes in at number two, and Facebook rounds out the top three. Yahoo! News, the Huffington Post, and CNN.com are also popular.8
Once you or your business have been covered by a few media outlets, more opportunities will open up, which will bring greater visibility and build credibility.
Respected for her communication skills and media relationships, Debra Locker has worked in public relations and journalism for nearly three decades. She is the president of Debra Locker Group (originally Locker Public Relations), which was founded in 2008. Debra Locker Group is an award-winning boutique agency that specializes in lifestyle, spa, wellness, and beauty. Clients are featured on “The TODAY Show,” “The Doctors,” in SHAPE, Marie Claire, and The New York Times – to name only a few. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Locker was the public relations director for the International SPA Association.