Word on the street is that old media is dead and social media is king. As a long-time publicist and media relations expert, I’m here to report that news of old media’s death is premature. Moreover, I submit that earned media (stories written about your beverage business by legitimate media) can still play a key role in increasing your exposure and sales. However, pursuing media coverage requires you follow some simple but hard and fast rules.
These rules for successfully reaching out to the media have been important for all of the more than two decades I’ve been working in wine media—and they’ll remain so decades after I retire. I consider them so important to successfully reaching out to the media that I keep a small piece of paper taped to my computer as a reminder:
Pitch a story, Not Your Company
Very few journalists of merit will write happy stories detailing the greatness of your company. Rather, they want to write a story that hasn’t been written to death already, that’s relevant to current issues within the alcohol beverage industry, and that contains ideas that resonate with the broader culture. Most important, they want to know how your product or service fits in. Before you reach out to a writer of publication, know what this larger story is and how your company is part of it.
Find the Correct Writer for the Story
The odds are that Jim Laube, who reviews California wines at The Wine Spectator, isn’t going to write a story about a new service that matches importers with distributors. It’s crucial you not waste time pitching a story to someone who isn’t going to write the story. Before reaching out to the media, make sure the writer or editor you’re approaching is likely to have interest in your story.
Read What the Writer Wrote
Reading what writers have published previously is the only way to know if the story you are pitching is in their wheelhouse. It will also let you know if they’ve already covered the angle you’re pitching. Additionally, if you’ve read their work, when you eventually speak to them about you story idea you can do so intelligently and with an eye toward what’s interested them in the past.
Craft a Concise Story Pitch
Whether you’re reaching out to the writer via email or phone, you must be able to quickly and concisely communicate your story idea, what you can contribute to the telling of the story, and how it fits with the writer’s audience. A concise pitch is one that easily communicates the story’s compelling essence.
These simple rules apply to media relations in any industry. There are more elements that go into garnering the media’s interest in your product or company, but when it comes to finally reaching out to the media and pitching a story, these four rules will go a long way toward successfully raising eyebrows and interest and getting you included in a story that will raise awareness for your products or service.