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It’s Baseball Season, So What’s Your Pitch?

Posted by Nancy Weil on July 1, 2017

  A funeral home or cemetery handling a funeral or burial is not newsworthy, unless something goes horribly wrong. So how can you get press coverage to raise community awareness about your business? Just like in baseball, you have to pitch it. Just like it baseball, there is a process from wind up to pitch to success.

  Let me coach you through the process that I have used successfully:

     Plan a newsworthy event – Right now there is a funeral home in Georgia that is arranging the arrival, wake, funeral and burial of a resident who was MIA since World War II and only recently found and identified. Unless you have a service like this, you need to have something else to pitch. What events, workshops, and programs do you run? Start planning the event with the end game in mind. When I began my Before I Die board project, I was already planning my pitch with the Buffalo News and, not only did the story make the front page, the photo was just used again for a different event I am involved in. So double the exposure and a great program as well!

     Press release – Write up a professional press release. Make sure all of the details are covered –date/time/place, etc. Don’t forget your contact information for them to find you with follow up questions.

     Call send call – Media people are busy. They have more faxes, emails, phone calls than they can handle. So I always call the newsroom or reporter first and offer my quick overview of what is going on. I then ask them where I can send the press release. That way they know to watch for it and it goes to the correct person. Finally I follow up with a phone call a few days later to see if they have any other questions.

     Presentation is everything – Every station has an advertising department that would love to sell you air time or a printed ad. They aren’t interested in giving you free advertising, so you have to pitch the local angle, the community service aspect, the emotional pull, the “you’re helping those in our community by letting them know about this” pitch.

     Grow your connections – Reporters are people. Once you meet them, build a relationship. If you see they wrote a great article or ran an interesting story, shoot them an email and let them know. I now have a group of media contacts that I can call when I have something that is truly worthy of their attention and they will usually cover it, because they trust me.

     Follow up – If you get results, phone calls, letters, any type of response from the viewing public, let the reporter know. They want to know that their work has made a difference.

     Go big or go home – It is great for your business to get local coverage, but if you have something of national interest, pitch it that way. This may be a long shot, but it is still worth an email inquiry. They are looking for stories to cover, so why not give it a try? Good Morning America, the Ellen show, CNN – look on the website and see if they have a place to submit a story idea.

     The important work starts when the story has run – Once the story is out, capture a copy of it. Put it on your social media pages. Try to house the original story on your own server and place it on your website. Be careful of just putting a link on your website. If the station ever takes the story down, you have nothing to show. Play it at events, frame the newspaper story and hang it in your office, etc. Keep the story alive for as long as you can.

     Their SEO vs. your SEO – One of the benefits of getting coverage may not be evident for years. Since they have a stronger search engine people may find you during a google search through their story. I once received a call two years after a story had run from someone who was looking for grief support groups and found me.

  So what are you going to pitch this summer?


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