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(George Doyle/Getty Images/Stockbyte Platinum)
(George Doyle/Getty Images/Stockbyte Platinum)

COMMENTARY

Pitching your business to the media? Digital’s the way to go Add to ...

If you’re a small business trying to figure out how to get your story out there, the digital world we live in offers amazing opportunities. From social media to content creation to the distribution of video segments, the options are more exciting than ever before.

However, if getting mainstream media on board with your brand and its story is your goal, there are a few things to consider.

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I was recently interviewed for an article about the last time someone ‘wowed’ me with a media pitch, and what made his or her PR approach ‘unique and memorable.’

Sadly, I had to respond that in my near decade-long news career, not one approach stood out. I recall often cringing at the amount of money spent on fancy folders and press kits that would arrive daily, and usually go straight into the recycling bin.

Why? As a news director and reporter, I was already busy pursuing stories I was working on, so the chances of me looking through a fancy, 20-page document were slim to none. Mostly, none.

If getting your business in front of major media is your goal, the digital era has opened up an entirely new and exciting world for you. Here’s some advice:

The death of the press release


Old-school lingo and traditional format press releases don’t work, unless it’s a slow news day, but that shouldn’t be your intention. If you are working with an agency that recommends and charges for such things, fire them. As digital media continues to evolve, how you speak to them needs to evolve, too.

Go digital


News directors, assignment editors and reporters are becoming more and more available via social media. If you compare sending a press release to an already-overstuffed generic news inbox with being able to talk directly to decision- makers, the choice is obvious.

Sure, it takes more work to figure out who you need to talk to, and what their Twitter and Facebook IDs are, but the return on the investment of your time is well worth it.

Just make sure that your social media feed backs up the story you are trying to sell. It’s easy to confirm or discredit a person’s expertise with a few clicks of the mouse.

Be a storyteller

If you want media coverage, think like a storyteller. Pitch your story in a way that will resonate with reporters. Regardless of what medium you use, if you can make the decision-maker visualize how your story can come together and how it will be told, you have made their lives easier and, therefore, increased the likelihood of your story getting picked up.

Why is your business interesting? What value does it offer? Why should people care? These are a few basic questions that should spark some answers when it comes to creating and selling your story.

Online video works


We live in an increasingly visual, interactive and engaging online world. Online video is still relatively new as a communication medium, and not yet widely used as far as media relations go. (This will soon become the expected norm, mark my words).

So, if you want to really stand out and ‘wow’ a decision maker at a news outlet, use video to tell or introduce your story. Video engages and can sell a story like no other medium available today.

My company has had many clients say the use of video has been the most effective tool in their media kits. Others have had media approach them after coming across their businesses’ online video story. It would be nice to have media come after you, rather than the other way around, wouldn’t it?

Like it or not, the face of media relations has changed. It’s impossible to talk about a PR campaign and not mention the use of social media or video these days. Make a few basic tweaks to your strategy and you’ll be well on your way to additional exposure for your business, whether it comes from traditional or new media approaches.

Lisa Ostrikoff is a TV journalist/anchor-turned-creator of BizBOXTV , a web video and social media marketing agency based in Calgary. Find her on Twitter and Facebook .

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