Dear Dr. Noah Lot – How do I get a (positive) story about my practice in the local news?
That is a great question and the answer is honestly easier than you may think. It really all boils down to a few steps:
- Have an interesting, unique, educational, or moving story to share with the viewers, listeners, and/or readers of a news outlet. Know the who, what, why, where, when, etc. Visual stories are always an easier sell.
- Know the media outlets in your community (TV, newspaper, radio, magazine, etc.) and what they typically cover. General news? Business news? Healthcare? etc. And, know which reporters cover which “beat,” meaning- Who handles pet stories? Who covers medical stories? Who covers business stories? etc.
- Now, you’re going to ‘pitch’ a particular reporter whom you know would be interested based on what you learned in step #2. This step is to get them interested in the story idea – like seeing a preview of a movie, not the entire movie. You can provide them all of the details if they are interested at a later time. Send the pitch letter directly to the reporter or producer/editor via their business address (not social media) from your business email. Include a personal message telling them why this is a great story. It’s also a good idea to acknowledge the station/paper/magazine and segment (if applicable) by name. Journalists take pride in their work! Make it about why their viewers would be interested in this story. Be sure to provide photos or video links if applicable, and of course, how to contact you for more information and/or to set up a date to come to the practice for a tour and to learn more.
- Email your pitch. In your subject line, write Exclusive Story for XXXX news outlet. You do not want to offer your story to more than one reporter at a time. Follow up with a phone call in a day or two if you do not get a response. If the first outlet declines, then move on to the next. When you do find an interested journalist… roll out the red carpet! Accommodate them promptly and professionally. And of course, be sure to send a thank-you note following any publicity they give you! Remember, you’re building a relationship with each reporter.
Here is an example of an actual (successful) email pitch. I have changed the information for confidentiality reasons:
To: Pam Smith, KXXX News Channel 4
From: Betty Jones for PAW Animal Hospital
Date: December 3, 2019
RE: Exclusive Story for Pam Smith, Medical Reporter, KXXX News Channel 4
Summary: A family dog diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy (link to source) goes through physical rehabilitation and is fitted for a custom mobility cart at PAW Animal Hospital in Anytown, USA. Her new zest for life is truly remarkable and inspiring.
During this season of Hope, we are confident that the KXXX Channel 4 viewers would enjoy learning about an amazing dog named Moxie. Her spirit and ‘can do’ attitude despite her disability is ripe for this time of year. We would like to offer you the exclusive of telling her tale, along with the services made possible for her at PAW. I have attached some photos. Here is a link to a few videos – including her playing in the snow.
Please let us know if you are interested, as I would be happy to arrange any logistics necessary to meet with Moxie’s family and the extraordinary team of specialists at PAW. I can be reached at xxx.xxx.xxxx or BettyJ@PAWAH . We appreciate your consideration.
We hope you found this helpful. Pitching the media about a single story may result in some coverage, but building a mutually beneficial relationship over time and promoting stories that are aligned with your practice goals are really the keys to getting some traction.
Should you need assistance with your media relations efforts, please feel to contact Linda Kaplan, MHA at BluePrints at 949-756-8071 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See you in the news!