How to Sell Your Story to the Media

Macias PR - How to sell your storyBy Mark Macias

Identifying a great narrative is the most important element behind any successful media campaign, but selling your story to the media can’t be overlooked.

You can have the best idea, but if you sell it the wrong way, your story will never be pitched in any morning news meeting. More relevant, you typically only get one chance to make a first impression in business, and in journalism, it lasts only a few seconds.

During my time as an Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York, tech startups, business owners and publicists pitched me all kinds of stories on topics ranging from consumer tech to medical, health to features.

At the same time, I had to pitch stories on a daily basis to a room full of jaded, experienced journalists who had heard every news idea possible. It’s very hard to reinvent the wheel or spin a square idea with that group.

So how do you sell a story idea to journalists?

Don’t try to tell any reporter that this is a great story, or revolutionary or why everyone loves your product or service. They will read right through it. Instead, take an objective approach and back it up with words that aren’t opinionated.

For example, take a look at that truck in the photo above. It has a story just like you and I have a story to tell. What has that truck seen, or why is it still running years after others have failed? How did it accumulate that rust? What are the stories that took place inside of that truck? Any scandalous cross-country ventures that took place inside the cabin?

That is how you sell a story to the media. And please, don’t use those words or phrases that are on the left box. Every journalist hears those phrases several times a day, so that is the quickest way to get your story rejected before it is even pitched.

Macias PR was named the 2015 top “PR Consultant Firm of the Year – USA” by Finance Monthly. The firm was founded by Mark Macias – a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. Macias is a weekly contributor with CNBC.com and author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media, which has been featured in the NY Times, Fox Business, NY Post and others. Macias PR has run media campaigns for tech startups, financial groups, service providers, nonprofits and politicians.

The Biggest PR Mistake

By Mark Macias

There are many mistakes you can make while running a public relations campaign. Fortunately, most of these mistakes can be overcome and corrected as long as you identify them early.

But, there is one PR mistake you can rarely fix and when it happens, an entire media placement is effectively worthless.

What is the biggest mistake: when a reporter misspells, or worse, doesn’t include the name of your business in the story.

This is why you need to always – repeat – always reinforce the name of your business with a reporter throughout the interview. In addition, you should also be continually dropping the name of your business throughout the reporter interview.

Why Name Dropping Your Business Matters

I helped get a friend on a local TV show in Phoenix and it was a great segment. He was positioned as an expert in his field, but the TV station never put his name or business name on the screen.

He could have avoided this error on live TV if he would have dropped the name of his business at the end of his live segment.

Remember, reporters and producers move at warp speed. Minutes matter in print. Seconds count in TV. Decrease the chances of your name getting lost by taking control of the interview and sprinkling the name of your business throughout the interview.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC, Senior Producer with WCBS and author of the book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. You can read more on his public relations agency at MaciasPR

 

 

 

Get my Story on the News

By Mark Macias

It was one of the most popular questions I heard when I was an Executive Producer with NBC.

“How can I get my business on the news?”

There is no magic formula to getting your service or product on the news, but there are guidelines that will increase your chances.

You can increase your chances for coverage by identifying what is different, new or unique about your business. It sounds simple but a lot of people forget that news is based on the root “new.”

If you don’t have that “new” component, your story is at a disadvantage. You might be able to find a new angle by asking pointed questions:

Is your business contributing to the local community in a unique way we might not expect?

Are you about to accomplish a feat where others have failed?

What is different between you and competitors?

Focus and Clarify your Pitch

The more you can clarify and focus your pitch, the better odds you have of getting your business on the news.

Finding a unique angle is not as difficult as it may sound. You just need to open your mind to timely events that impact and influence sales of your product or service. If you own a fashion or jewelry store, try to link your product to high-profile events like the Academy Awards or the Grammy Awards. If your business is geared towards a niche audience, like traveling business executives, scan the headlines for possible tie-ins to current events.

Biggest Mistakes Most Publicists Make

Not properly defining the story is one of the biggest mistakes most publicists make. Your success on pitching depends greatly on how well you define that story because in many cases, you may only get one shot at pitching your story idea. You can focus your story by understanding and applying the five W’s (Who, What, When, Where, Why and How).

Who is this story about?

What is this story about?

Where is this story taking place?

When does your story take place?

Why should anyone care about your story?

How is your story, business, service or product changing lives?

The more you learn and understand the definition of “newsworthy,” the better chance you have of getting your story on the news. And once you successfully make that placement, you are better able to shape the message with the media.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC and Senior Producer with WCBS. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR.

PR for Start-ups

By Mark Macias

The number of start-ups launching in 2015 will continue to grow as the economy expands, which means publicity for your start-up will get more difficult.

If you’re trying to get your start-up on the news, you first need to identify a strong narrative. I’ve written other articles that give guidelines on how to identify and find the story angle needed for coverage, which you can read in Consistent Coverage. I recommend you read those articles before submitting your story to reporters so you can increase your chances for coverage.

Now that you have identified the story angle, here are some websites geared towards start-ups. You still need to reach out to the reporters, but it will help with your initial media research. Links to the websites and their company mission (in their own words from their site) are below:

TechCrunch

www.TechCrunch.com/

“TechCrunch is a leading technology media property, dedicated to obsessively profiling startups, reviewing new Internet products, and breaking tech news. Founded in June 2005, TechCrunch and its network of websites now reach over 12 million unique visitors and draw more than 37 million page views per month. The TechCrunch community includes more than 2 million friends and followers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and other social media.”

Mashable

www.mashable.com/submit/

“Founded in 2005, Mashable is the top source for news in social and digital media, technology and web culture. With more than 40 million monthly pageviews, Mashable is the most prolific news site reporting breaking web news, providing analysis of trends, reviewing new websites and services, and offering social media resources and guides. Mashable’s audience includes early adopters, social media enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, influencers, brands and corporations, marketing, PR and advertising agencies, Web 2.0 aficionados and technology journalists. Mashable is also popular with bloggers as well as Twitter and Facebook users — an increasingly influential demographic.”

StartupBooster

www.startupbooster.com/submit-site/

“This blog is dedicated to helping young entrepreneurs learn the basic techniques necessary to succeed with their online ventures, share their experiences with others and promote their new startups.”

KillerStartups

http://www.killerstartups.com/submit-startup/

“KillerStartups is dedicated to sharing more than just the hottest new startups. We want to share the stories of the PEOPLE behind the successful companies and their advice for other internet entrepreneurs. Want to share your story with our readers and promote your website?
Fill out our online submission form and tell us about what you’ve got goin’ on.”

StartupWizz

http://www.startupwizz.com/submit-a-startup/

“It was founded in 2009 as a place for entrepreneurs and investors to stay informed about startups on the web. Our goal is to find some of the most disruptive, niche and interesting startups that our peers and investors want to know about.”

Squidoo

http://www.squidoo.com/sumbit-startup

“StartUpLift helps promising startups get featured and receive insightful feedback. People come to the site to learn about new startups and to engage in stimulating conversation. There is no charge simply to feature your startup. However, in the spirit of keeping feedback ecosystem alive, StartUpLift does ask that you provide feedback to at least one of the startups featured on our site before submitting yours.”

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC and Senior Producer with WCBS. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR.

 

How to Measure PR ROI

By Mark Macias

Measuring the ROI from a marketing or ad buy is fairly straight-forward, but PR has variables that can make it more difficult to asses the direct impact on the bottom line. But contrary to what most entrepreneurs believe about Public Relations being nebulous, it is possible to measure its effectiveness.

Here are six different methods to help you measure the ROI of any PR campaign:

ROI of Media Placements

In addition to the number of media placements secured by your PR firm, you should look closely at the internal distribution numbers and demographics reached from your media outreach. Many news organizations publish these numbers on their advertising pages, giving you insight into how many or what type of consumers you are reaching. This assessment can give you a measurable look at the number of consumers your PR campaign is reaching. If you look closely at the demographics, you can also determine if you are reaching the right consumer or businesses.

ROI of Credibility

Public Relations is especially effective and measurable when it comes to increasing your credibility in the service sector industries. Consumers want to know that your service has been vetted and is reliable. If you’re a hedge fund portfolio manager, potential investors will assume you are a better money manager if you’re an expert on CNBC or in the WSJ. You’re less likely to be a scam artist if the media is talking about you. This increased credibility will improve your profile with potential clients and lead to more sales.

PR ROI with Sales

It’s very difficult for a PR firm to assess the ROI from sales if the client doesn’t share internal information, however every business owner should be able to identify where their clients are coming from. A better way to keep track of PR ROI is to create a special website link for the media campaign. If customers are typing in this direct link with any search engines, you know your PR campaign is gaining traction. Analytics and Webmaster can also tell you which websites are sending you traffic.

ROI for Search Engine Rankings

Nearly every PR story helps with your website ranking because the search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) identify these websites as quality links. In other words, Google believes if the New York Times links to your website, you business must have value.

Here’s another way PR can help your website get a higher ranking with the search engines.

Smaller blogs frequently run stories or snippets from the larger media outlets. If you are able to get a large story in a major newspaper, there is a good chance that you can get other, smaller websites to also do a story promoting your business, which can help your SEO with the additional links.

ROI from Analytics

In October 2013, Google changed its analytics data, making it more difficult to determine key words that are sending traffic to your website. The good news is you can still measure the ROI from PR using Google Analytics. Unfortunately, a successful PR strategy gets your company into the conversation, so analytics can’t measure this aspect of PR, but if more people are finding your website using specific keywords for your company, you can safely assume the PR campaign is converting on its ROI. You can also use Google Webmaster to see more details on how the search engine queries to see if these news articles are also driving traffic to your site.

ROI of Social Media Influence

A successful PR campaign that uses video can become another way to measure the ROI of PR. It might be difficult to measure the exact ROI from these videos but you can measure the reach by video views. Marketing research also shows a video on your website can increase sales up to two-fold, not to mention the added SEO value it brings with search engines.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC and Senior Producer with WCBS. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR or MarketYourFund.com

How PR Helps with SEO

By Mark Macias

If you type “PR Help” in Google, you will see a link to public relations site on the first page, called PR Help.  That high profile search engine ranking didn’t happen by accident and it didn’t arrive solely because of the website name.

It was a choreographed PR strategy that took a little less than 3-months to achieve.

There are many strategies that can help push your website ranking with the search engines: key word optimization, Internet marketing, promoting your website through back links – but one of the most cost-effective ways to increase your search ranking is via public relations.

It is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO for short.

How can PR my search engine ranking?

If you want potential clients or customers to find your website via search engines, consider looking to public relations as an alternative.

Unlike online ads, which expire with your budget, with public relations, your news stories keep working long after your media campaign is over, especially if you can convince the news outlet to post a link to your website.

All of the search engines will rightfully believe your company has more valuable information if a prominent news organization, like the New York Times, posts a website link to your website. That in turn, will raise your profile and ranking with the search engines.

Here’s another way PR can help your website get a higher ranking with the search engines.

Smaller blogs frequently run stories or snippets from the larger media outlets. If a major newspaper runs a story on your company, there is a good chance smaller websites will want to run the story, which helps your SEO.

So before you devote that marketing budget to Facebook ads, take a minute to research the ROI of PR.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC and Senior Producer with WCBS. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR or MarketYourFund.com

 

International PR Campaign

By Mark Macias

Would you like to introduce your product or service to consumers in the USA? Imagine the growth an international campaign could bring to your company.

New York City alone has a $1.29 trillion economy, larger than the economy of Mexico ($1.15 trillion), South Korea ($1.12 trillion) and the Netherlands (S838 billion), according to a report by HIS Global Insight (http://usmayors.org/metroeconomies/0712/FullReport.pdf)

And don’t assume you can’t afford a solid PR campaign in the USA, especially if your start-up can afford to buy Facebook ads. A publicity campaign is almost always more cost efficient than an advertising campaign. The cost for a PR campaign varies by the complexity and scope of the campaign, but it can increase your brand awareness, introduce a new product and improve your website’s ranking with Google. (Click here to read how a PR campaign can improve your SEO ranking).

But where do you begin as a foreign company, trying to enter the US market?

MaciasPR has worked with many international companies and start-ups trying to enter the US market. We have gotten our clients publicity inside some of the most influential news organizations, including the New York Times, CBS News, Good Morning America, CNN, Fox News, as well as targeted industry publications like Venturebeat, BusinessInsider and Ecommerce.com.

But before you enter the USA market, you should be prepared to answer a few questions on your company’s vision.

Do you want a national or local media campaign? Is it B2B or B2C? How complex is your message? Who exactly do you want to reach?

We can guide you via Skype if you would like to hear a more targeted media approach for your company. Just message us at www.MaciasPR.com.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC and Senior Producer with WCBS. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR or MarketYourFund.com

Get My Story on the News

By Mark Macias

I recently got a Linkedin email that had a catchy headline on the surface, but lacked truth when you looked deeper.

“Publicity is the most under used method to get attention, yet the media is starving for stories.”

I think the Linkedin spammer might have had a better “PR” argument if he said the media is looking for great ideas. “Starving for stories” implies there is a shortage of story pitches hitting reporters and producers and that is not the case.

As an Executive Producer with WNBC, I approved story ideas from publicists, reporters and producers. When I would log into my email at NBC and CBS every morning, I would easily have 300 new emails that were sent overnight from publicists trying to get their clients on the news.

More than 90 percent of those emails didn’t identify a solid news angle and were treated as spam. Those publicists couldn’t find the story narrative even if they had a journalist sitting next to them. And that wasn’t just based on my media experience in New York. During my time as a news producer in Phoenix and Miami, the publicists were actually even more inexperienced.

The media wants to cover stories that have a compelling narrative, stories that impact the public, stories that uncover wrongs or inspire people to do right. Yes – not all news is bad. There is a home for inspiring stories and in TV, we usually call it the kicker.

The news industry is competitive, and it’s not easy to get a solid news story placed unless you have those compelling elements. Here’s more proof of that with numbers. A 30-minute newscast is actually 22 minutes after commercials. Add in sports and weather, and you have a heck of a lot of people trying to get their product inside of 12 minutes of air time.

So the next time you start thinking of hiring a PR firm, make sure you research the publicist or PR firm. If they start throwing out statements like the media is starving for stories – be leery.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC and Senior Producer with WCBS. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR or MarketYourFund.com

Most Common Publicist Mistakes

By Mark Macias

I was going through my emails this morning and found an old story I wrote while I was a Senior Producer with CBS in New York.

A global PR agency had asked me to write an article for their employee newsletter, giving their publicists some tips on how to write a better media pitch. I reread the story and decided to repost this for business owners and entrepreneurs trying to get their stories told on the news.

Common Mistakes Made by Publicists

Every morning when I log onto my computer, I have about 100 new emails from publicists trying to get their client on the next local newscast. I want to read every email closely, but in an era of shorter staffing and larger workloads it is physically impossible to read every single pitch word-for-word. Unfortunately, I know I may be missing some good story ideas, which is bad for everyone. Viewers won’t get to see the next great product and I won’t get to pitch the next great idea.

This is why it is so important to clarify and focus your pitch off before you hit send. Publicists have only seconds to make a lasting impression with the media, and if your email doesn’t catch the eye, there is zero chance of getting on the newscast.

There is no official “right” or “wrong” way to draft a press release but there are definitely “dos” and “don’ts” that will either increase or decrease your chances of getting a reporter’s attention. Here are a few of the biggest mistakes I see publicists make with their press releases time and time again.

Publicists try to cram everything into one press release.

A press release has a purpose. It is to alert the media to your story idea, not a time to make the hard sell. Your press release should not encompass every single fact and angle for the story and it should never be more than one page. (Think white is good). The release is merely the first step towards getting you on the newscast or in the local papers. Many publicists make the mistake of trying to cram everything into one page, causing the release to lose focus or clarity. Instead, write your release so it sounds more intriguing. Look for interesting angles, ways to tease your story and pique the reporter or producer’s interest. If the journalist finds your story interesting, trust me, he or she will follow-up with you and ask you about the facts you left out of the initial release.

Publicists pitch evergreen story ideas.

It’s hard to fathom how so many people pitching the media forget the basics of news. People watch the news and read the newspapers because they want to find out what is “new” that day. It’s a simple formula: news is new minus the S, yet surprisingly many publicists seem to forget this in their pitches.

This is why you should never send a news release that sounds like it could have been written a year ago. I frequently get the same email pitches from publicists that they pitched me several months earlier. They probably assumed I wouldn’t remember it or perhaps they think I didn’t read their release the first time. No, I didn’t pitch their story the first time because it wasn’t new.

Laser hair removal is not new no matter how you try to spin it. However, the fiscal stimulus plan is new and a good publicist will find a way to link their salon to the new fiscal stimulus plan. In late February, I read an article about a salon in Springfield, Illinois that was offering its own stimulus plan for people who lost their job. The reporter wrote about how the salon was offering free haircuts to people who were about to go in for a job interview. They only had to tell the receptionist that they were in for the “stimulus haircut.” The article also profiled the salon’s new royalty rewards program, which essentially offered 25 percent off a haircut over the course of the program. This article was a great public relations coup that raised the salon’s profile in the community. And, it was a timely piece of work that could travel anywhere (in other words copied by other publicists in other cities). Finding a timely article isn’t as difficult as it sounds. It’s actually quite easy once you learn how to learn to follow the news cycle.

Publicists don’t personalize their pitch.

It’s okay to pitch the same story idea to different news outlets, in fact, I encourage it. You never want to limit your success to one person, and the more people who read your news release, the better chance you have of getting it read. However, I am not a fan of massive email blasts. It’s just another form of spam and it usually ends up getting automatically filtered into my outlook junk mail box without me even knowing it.

You don’t have to rewrite the release, but you should add a one-liner at the top of the email, telling the producer or reporter why this is a good story idea for him or her. Also, take the time to research the right reporter or producer. If you’re pitching a consumer story idea or anything that involves money, send it to the consumer reporter or producer. If you’re pitching a story on a restaurant, pitch it to the food critic or the lifestyle reporter. To me, that’s common sense, but surprisingly I frequently get pitches for sports and entertainment.

As a special projects producer, I suspect my profile in the various media databases details my broad background in consumer, entertainment, medical, lifestyle, investigative, etc. I still always forward good story ideas to the proper person, but a publicist could increase his chances for success by pitching the consumer idea directly to the consumer producer. Finding the right person is not that time consuming and you don’t even need to be subscribed to expensive database lists. Sometimes it’s as simple as looking at the company’s website or calling the news desk and asking for a name.

I understand how difficult it is to get the media’s attention. I’ve called some of my own friends in the media and I don’t even get a call back. It’s nothing personal. If you call a reporter or producer and they ask you to email them a press release or they don’t return a voicemail, it’s probably because they want you to focus the idea rather than ramble on about why you have just discovered the next great idea.

I do believe there is a home for every story idea and it’s just a matter of discovering where that outlet is. So don’t get discouraged if no one is biting on your story idea. Perhaps, you need to go back to the drawing board and find a more timely angle. Or maybe, you need to reformat that press release so it doesn’t look so cluttered. By following the above rules, you may not get on the news that day, but you will definitely improve your chances of getting your product, service, business or client on the news.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC and Senior Producer with WCBS. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR or MarketYourFund.com

 

 

Credibility for my Business

By Mark Macias

Credibility matters in life, but it especially matters if you are trying to get a story on the news.

Whenever a journalist is pitched a story, he will quietly and overtly measure the person’s expertise, integrity and experience in the industry. Journalists  want to see proof on why this person is the best expert to add color to the industry.

This is why your business must establish credibility in the online world if you want to secure credible media placements.

If a reporter doesn’t see a solid online presence, credibility questions will be raised. This doesn’t mean you won’t succeed with a media placement, but it will be a much harder story sell to the media if you can’t show why you are an expert.

Here are a few questions to address and answer before you pursue media placements.

Q) What makes you qualified to speak on this topic?

Q) How many years of experience have you spent in the industry and why does this make you more qualified than your competitors?

Q) How big is your business in comparison to others?

Q) What part of your daily routine is spent reinforcing your expertise?

Q) What do you know as an insider that others would want to know?

Q) Does your business have a direct impact on reshaping the future?

Q) Is your business positioned as a leader in any trends?

Q) Do trade organizations recognize your business as a leader or expert?

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC and Senior Producer with WCBS. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR or MarketYourFund.com