Freelance Austin hosted media specialist Rebekah Epstein of fifteen media on June 9, 2021 to share inexpensive ways to build credibility while getting the word out about your brand, or your client’s businesses. Rebekah has been working in public relations for about 10 years; as she says, “I do media relations all day, every day.” Many of her clients are other PR firms, looking for earned media opportunities.
She has found opportunities for her clients in publications such as Forbes, People, Health, Self, the New York Times, Fast Company, Shape and many others.
Rebekah outlined the 4-step OPEN process she uses daily to ensure her emails are read:
- O – Observe the trends. Look at what the media has covered in the past to get an idea of what they might cover in the future. The media doesn’t care that you are trying to get publicity for your brand. They care about bringing useful, valuable information to their audience. This might be an obvious one, but always let the media know when you have new news to share. Examples of new news are launches, new locations, events and collaborations.
- P – Pinpoint media clients. Look at which publications have covered your competitors or similar businesses.
- E – Email prospective clients with short, concise pitches. In the first few sentences of your pitch, let the media know what you are offering. Even if they don’t read the rest of the pitch, they will get the gist of it. Don’t overthink this!
- N – Need to Follow up. Rebekah recommends following up at least once on every email pitch. Sometimes things do fall to the bottom of the inbox and accidentally get overlooked, so a friendly follow-up is necessary.
She said it’s important to look at what the media has covered in the past, so you have an accurate idea of what they’re looking for.
Rebekah suggested that we ask ourselves, “Does this add value?” Editors and writers at media outlets don’t care that we are trying to get publicity for our brands. They only care about bringing useful, valuable information to their audiences.
Of particular interest would be news like the launch of a new location, collaborations among companies, events that are open to the public (not just members) and business upgrades such as a non-profit getting new funding or hiring a new CEO.
Rebekah mentioned that a winning PR strategy is to pitch your product or service to fit into a story the media is already planning to publish. Often that would be seasonal stories related to summer vacation or Christmas. The 4th of July, Hallowe’en, Valentine’s Day and Memorial Day are also annual themes you can count on. You can have a bit of fun by Googling holidays such as National Margarita Day.
When events occur that are related to industry trends, you have the opportunity to fit yourself into the conversation. Studies and trends help tell your story in a compelling way. It’s always best to email your pitch to the media (phone calls are not appreciated.) The exception is local media – go ahead and ring them.
Your email should be short, to-the-point and it should include exactly what you’re offering. An example would be, “I have an expert on X, who is willing to comment on X.“
Make sure you include three to four sentences on your company, your brand, what makes it unique and why the publication should care about your topic.
And of course, include your contact information.
Follow this format:
- Subject line
- Body of email that states what you’re offering
- Your elevator pitch (what would the average person find interesting?
- Contact information
You could also include additional information in bullet point format. But make sure you keep this short.
The most important step is to follow up with media. “That’s where the business comes from,” said Rebekah. Because media employees are often extremely busy and may miss your initial query, send out a follow-up email 4 to 5 days after the original email, only during business hours (9 a.m. to 5p.m.)
Rebekah cautioned against sending more than two follow-ups. After that it’s time to move on to a new story idea.
During the question and answer portion of the meeting, Tanya Jogee asked about responding to negative comments and crisis communications. Rebekah replied that there are professionals who specialize in crisis communications and said it’s best to respond right away on Facebook or wherever the original comment came from.
When asked if she pitches podcasts, Rebekah said she pitches podcasts 50% of her time, noting “There are always more podcasts to pitch.” She warns that if you are interviewed about your podcast, chances are you will not be interviewed again for another year.
Pitches should go out 6 to 8 months in advance of an event or season for national publications such as Good Housekeeping or Real Simple. Local TV, radio and print can be pitched 1-4 weeks ahead of time.
Bloggers will require product samples if you are pitching a product.
Connect with Rebekah and learn more on her Facebook page @fifteenmedia or find her on Instagram @bekahepstein.
If you’re interested in taking a deeper dive into PR, Rebekah has a more comprehensive, self-paced course called, Foundations: A DIY PR Course for Small Business Owners. More information can be found here: https://rebekah-epstein.mykajabi.com/foundations