10 Tips to Consider When Reaching Out to the Press

In retail, gaining attention is always ideal. After all, competition is tough and “buzzed about” businesses help keep your business top of mind. If gaining publicity is on your to-do-list, make sure you know how to professionally communicate with them – including when to reach out to them, how to reach out to them and what to say once you do.

Below, gain tips on how you can help make your PR communication stronger in an effort to gain more press for your store:

1. Understand lead times and deadlines will vary based on who you are pitching. Many publication websites contain information on submission timing, or a quick phone call can get you the information you need. But in general, know the timeline of your media – not your own ideal timeline – to ensure you are reaching out and staying in touch (including meeting deadlines) of your media sources.

2. Do your homework.  Know the rights (and wrongs) of how to communicate with your media outlets. It’s important that you know the details of each media outlet to help you gain their trust and respect.  When it comes to magazines, for example, make sure you know how often they are published and have familiarized yourself with the types of stories they run. If you’re pitching a particular editor, do some research to determine what he or she has recently written to ensure you aren’t duplicating a recent story idea or offering them something they would have no interest in.  In many cases, you can find a publication’s editorial calendar online that identifies what content is planned for future issues. When it comes to television, do not pitch when the show is currently on-air. For example, don’t dial your local television station during actual program air-time hours.

3. Designate a media spokesperson. Likely, this will be the store owner for small businesses, but this is not always the case. If you don’t think you’re savvy enough to build a relationship with the media, designate someone else on your team to do it for you. The right person vs. the wrong person can make a huge difference.

4. Be friendly with the press – but don’t mistake them as your friends. Develop a rapport with your top media outlet contacts to be among their preferred businesses to work with, but don’t fool yourself in thinking they are your new BFF. Be friendly and respect their roles – and never, ever make them mad at you. This – like it or not – can get your cut from their list… fast.

5. Call and introduce yourself – even if you’re not ready to pitch a story. The media likes to know of sources and guess what? You’re a source! If you are familiar with crafts or candy or interior design or whatever your specialty is in your store, let them know you’re available should they ever need an “expert” in this category.

6. Know your “message” points before you start pitching the press. And stick to them! If sharing details of an upcoming store anniversay is your goal, possibly identify what you have accomplished in the years leading up to this anniversary. Be concise, clear and courteous in your points… as well as quick. Don’t take up too much time. Key is to be concise and clear.

7. Provide a phone number, email or website for those who want more information. Or better yet, all three. Make sure your media contacts don’t have to search for your business – give them all the details they need. If you want to share your social media handles as well, do so. But only if they are actively in use and have a fair amount of followers. Otherwise, this could hurt you.

8. Offer press kits, statistics and other details in a neat, orderly fashion. Press releases are great, as are well written emails. But often, the media will need to know more about your business in a professional fashion. Maybe you create a link on your website designed just for press. Or you can have a press kit organized that highlights your store details and past press. The idea, however, is to be polished and professional in your delivery.

9. Speak slowly and calmly when communicating with the press. Often, you will receive voicemails. And that’s okay! Just remember to speak slowly and calmly so the press knows what you are saying. Say your name, company and phone number at the beginning of the message – not the end – to ensure they quickly know who you are. Repeat this information at the end of the message. In between state your goal or purpose of the call. Remember, though, keep it concise and clear. Brief is ideal.

10. Be persistent. You won’t get anywhere if you aim to gain press once… then drop the ball. Keep at it to ensure you gain press again and again and again. You won’t win every pitch, so to speak, but that’s okay. Staying top of mind among the media is often part of the goal – so no matter what efforts you are making, it’s a win.

Want more support? Check out these past Retail Minded articles below!

PR Tips for Calling Editors 

Writing a Press Release – What You Need to Know 

Publicity Myths Shattered… And Why You Need It 



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