Seems impossible, right? That's what I thought when I started out. I knew I had to get my brand out there, but how was I supposed to when I didn't know any journalists in the right space and had no PR background at all?
It's simple really.
: Create your list. Spend a couple of days compiling a press list of journalists in your space. You can do this by looking up the email format (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org), and then finding their names on the website or their LinkedIn. The press-list I put together when I started is one of the most valuable lists I own. Journalists may not stay at the companies they are currently at for years at a time, so the list may become outdated if you don't keep on top of it, but they tend to stay as journalists so having their names and contact details in one document is extremely useful. If you want a particular contact, do get in touch with me. I probably have it.
: Understand them. Do a little digging on their most recent articles and what they seem to be interested in. If you do this, you can get a flavour for what they like writing about and tailor your email in a way which will excite them. A little more importantly, you can start a conversation with them and/or grab their attention by connecting with them on a personal level. For example, starting an email with something like "I read what you said about X last week, and it inspired me to reach out to you" sounds great. Or "Your words in yesterday's column were really thoughtful. I wondered what you would think about writing a piece on X?".
: Be human. Don't pitch your business cold, but talk them through something personal about how you started or why you are where you are now. Tell them what it would mean if you could get some publicity in this particular publication and why it would really interest their readers. Talk to them, not at them.
: Blame the customer. This always works... Saying "I think my story would interest your reader" doesn't sound very convincing. However, if you start with the customer by saying "my customers always tell me how they can see my story/product in their favourite publication X, which has encouraged me to reach out to you". This makes it sound like there is a demand from their readership, it sounds good.
: Get an introduction. This is the best way to get talking to a journalist. One way I have done this before is by purposely contacting somebody in the wrong department, asking them for the contact details or an intro to the right person. Even if they don't make a direct introduction, if they have passed on their details you can start the email by saying "Person X has passed on your details, I think you may be able to help" For example.
: Link to your website. When you're talking about your business, make sure it's always linking to your website so they can take a look at what you do easily.
: Add visuals. If your business is product based, it is always good to add a few visual images at the bottom of your email. However, don't put too many or the email may be too large to reach their inbox.
: Keep it brief & well-written. Journalists don't have time to A) read a long email, or B) re-write information. If you can give them something polished that they can almost copy and paste into a story, they are more likely to run with it. Their deadlines are often tight.
: End the email with a question. Encourage the journalist you are reaching out to, to get back to you. Something like, What do you think? Is this something you'd be interested in? Can I grab you a coffee to show you what we do?
: Grab their attention with your subject line. Journalists get hundreds of emails per day, and unless they know the sender or are attracted by the subject line, they won't open it. One example is to take a look at the headlines of some of their recent stories, and try and replicate it with your own content.
: Keep chasing. You'll be lucky if 10% reply to you, but don't be disheartened. Keep following up with them as you may have caught them at the wrong time during your previous attempt(s). A lot about securing press is good timing, so keep trying until you find the right time. One other thing, if you get an automated reply that they are out of office, make a note in your diary when their return date is - drop them another line then or the day after. In the automated replies they may also give contact details of other valuable contacts, so make sure to reach out to them too.
: Don't call. Everyone will tell you something different here, but in my experience, don't call unless you have an introduction of some kind. Journalists get so many calls and just don't have the time to speak to you over the phone, especially if they don't know who you are.
: Write them a letter. No luck with email? Send them a brochure/info with a handwritten letter, telling them what you want to tell them. Once they have that, you can email them to ask if they have received it. Chances are, they will reply.
: Engage with them. Engage with key journalists on social if you can. Follow them using your brand account on Twitter/Instagram etc. If they haven't replied to your email previously, drop them a tweet.
: Show off. Tell them about other press you have been in (if possible). If journalists can see you're getting interest elsewhere from other great publications, they will be interested!
The above are just some ways you can get the attention of journalists, but if you have any questions do get in touch. Some of the press I have been in is listed below. Best of luck!