In his new book "The Home Office from Hell Cure," entrepreneur and small-business adviser Jeffrey Landers offers these five tips for getting journalists to sit up and notice you, and for making a great pitch:
First, know your journalist.
Who is this person? What does she write about? If she writes about technology, she will not be able to do anything with your pitch about your knitting business and you will have wasted her time and yours.
Don't make the journalist do all the legwork.
Come to the table with a completed story and don't just say you were thinking of a story about, say, how the pet-food industry is probably reeling from the recent food poisoning scandal -- with no idea if it really is. That leaves the journalists to do all the work, and considering all the other pitches and stories they're juggling, they probably won't do it. The burden is on you to flesh out a complete story.
Call and leave a message.
Journalists often are not at their desks. These are great opportunities to leave short pitches on their answering machines. The key here is to be quick. Give them the important points, explain why your story is interesting to the reader and leave your number. Don't drone on, explaining all the intricacies; just get in and get out. They'll appreciate you for it.
If the reporter is open to your idea but wants to take it in another direction, work with it. They know more about what their readers want than you do.
Make yourself available.
If a journalist is interested in your story, make the job easy. Give lengthy interviews or access to anything that will make the story better: colleagues, family, employees and nonconfidential papers. Don't forget that journalists are always on deadline, so if they contact you for a story and need to speak with you by a certain time on a certain day, drop everything you are doing and make yourself available. They don't care about your other important call, your dental appointment or your kid's soccer game.
By Marshall Loeb