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How to Think Like a Journalist

By:Penny Sansevieri

If your media campaign has been perplexing you, maybe you’re not thinking right. What I mean is maybe you’re not thinking like a journalist. The problem with many campaigns is that we pitch our stories with a focus on our books, when the truth is we should never (ever) sell our book and a book should certainly never be the focus of our pitch, we should only sell what our book can do for the reader.

When I pitch stories to the media, I find the best way to get them interested is to give them what they want. Now this might sound pretty simple but for many of us, it’s not. We’re very wrapped up in our books, our message, and our mission and we’ve little time left over to discern the formula for a successful pitch. The formula isn’t complicated, but it does require that you do your homework.

Pitch a timely topic

The media needs stories. It may not seem that way if you’re not getting your stories picked up but it’s true. They need them and many times, they need them now! By pitching a timely topic you’re helping the media do your job and in so doing, you’re getting ink or airtime. When I say a “timely” topic, I mean check your calendar and see what’s coming up and what people will be talking about.

Whether it’s Father’s Day or Valentine’s Day, if it’s on the calendar you can be sure someone will be covering it in the news. I recommend that you take your calendar and start searching dates that you can spin your topic on. It’s what AME refers to as a `book hook,’ a positioning tool to let you hang your star on an upcoming event in the media.

Pitch a newsworthy topic

If the media is covering it and you can comment on it, then by all means let them know about you. The media is looking for stories and experts who can elaborate on or offer a new slant to an existing topic. If there’s something going on in the news that ties into your book and you have something to say, then by all means, say it. Let the media know you’re interested

Pitch appropriately

Sometimes you have a great pitch, a terrific tie-in and a superb book hook but still, no one is picking up your story. Could it be that you’re pitching the wrong people? If you’re not sure then you should do your research. The worst thing you can do for a campaign is take your story to someone who won’t listen. And if you don’t know who to pitch, ask. Often the best person to ask is the receptionist. Most times the person manning the phones knows who’s taking pitches, hot topics they’re looking for and often, when to pitch them.


This is where a lot of us fall short. We send out pitches and then that’s it, we hope and pray that someone will call us and beg us to be on their show or interviewed for their article. Most times this simply isn’t true. If you’re pitching one reporter it’s likely that ten other experts in your market have pitched the same person. After we’ve sent an email pitch, we’ll usually wait two to three days and call them to see if there’s an interest. If we mailed a packet, we’ll time our follow-up to approximately three to five days after the package arrives.

Every email you send could be ruining your marketing campaign.

This last bit of advice might be the most crucial to your entire marketing effort. Why? Because long, lengthy emails won’t get read and certainly won’t get noticed, and many times, they might get you a one- way ticket into an email trash bin. Remember the “above the fold” rule, which is an old newspaper term. Everything of importance is always “above the fold” of the paper, and your emails should be the same. Keep your pitch to the top half of an email; don’t make a reporter or producer scroll through your message to find the hook. Keep your message short and to the point and remember, never ever sell your book - always sell what the book can do for the reader, listener, and viewer.

Thinking like a journalist isn’t that tough, we just need to remember what they’re looking for, and how they want to get their information. Give them what they want, when they want it and how they want it and you’ll find an increasing number of your pitches making the grade!

Article Source: http://www.redsofts.com/articles/

Penny C. Sansevieri is a book publicist who turns authors into success stories. Get her free author marketing newsletter and insider tips at http://www.amarketingexpert.com

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