Step 1: Determine Your Reflexology Story Idea to Pitch
If you want the newspaper to write a story talking about how amazing reflexology is, or for the TV station to have you as a guest, you’ve got to find a story idea that will be of interest to the newspaper readers or TV news watchers, etc.
Imagine you’re a person watching the news or reading the paper who has never heard of reflexology. What headline would catch your attention and lead you to scheduling a reflexology session? This would make a great topic to pitch.
Or you can try to pitch having them talk about the general benefits of reflexology, highlighting some recent successes you’ve seen with clients (assuming you have permission to talk about it), or even timely topics such as summer sandal choices and how it affects the feet (and thus the body).
Step 2: Select the Right Media and Contact Person
It’s helpful to make a list of all the local newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, magazines, etc. in your area to decide who to contact first. (If you need help, here’s the example media list I put together.)
For starters pick the media or contact person you think will be most receptive to your pitch or would have the best audience that’s likely to become your new clients. If you watch/read the media/publications you’ve listed you might have a good feel for who that is.
If you don’t know, here are two approaches you can take instead.
- Start by sending it to the media outlet that has the biggest reach. This might be the local newspaper or TV station depending on your market. If they pick up your story it is going to get the best exposure and sometimes even get the attention of other publications and news media.
- Send it to the one that is most likely to do a feature story (instead of media that focuses more on breaking news). This might be a local magazine or a morning TV or radio talk show. For example the 5 pm news tends to be more focused on “news” that is happening vs the morning shows that tend to bring in people to interview. Since your story idea is more likely to be considered a feature or general interest story it might not make the “front page” news but would go into the “features” section of the newspaper.
- (Bonus) Turn it into a news release and send it to everyone possible. Reporters and journalists typically prefer to get unique stories, thus the first suggestion is to just pitch a story to one contact first and see if they respond. But there can be benefits to using a news release and sending it out to everyone too. (I’ve got several news release templates with pitches you can use available for the MORE FEET Club.)
If you don’t get a response from the first contact you try. Don’t give up. Keep working through your comprehensive list of local media until you get someone who picks up the story.
Step 3: Find email addresses
I like to keep a spreadsheet with the contact info and notes for each contact person. When watching the news or reading the paper, etc. pay attention to what kind of stories the various journalists/reporters cover. For example, in most newspapers a story about reflexology isn’t something you’d pitch to the person who mainly covers the local government or crime beats or even the sports writers. Now maybe you could pitch reflexology benefits to athletes to the sports writer, but you’re more likely to your story picked up by a features writer.
Most media websites will have a “contact us” page. You might have to dig a little to find it (often in the footer or in a sub menu), but it’s there. If they list all their news staff’s email addresses there, you’re set. Unfortunately, these days they tend to list a general news email and not much more. You can always try the general email first and see if they respond. If not, you could try calling a receptionist to ask for the email, or you can often guess the right email if you know the format used by the organization such as first initial of the first name followed by the last name, etc. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you aren’t sure who is the best contact, look for the following job titles:
- Newspapers (larger): features editors or writers, or the managing editor who will assign stories to specific writers
- Local magazines and smaller newspapers : editor, community editor, or news editor
- Radio and TV news: assignment editor/managers will typically assign the stories to the specific reporters, you can also go to the specific reporters if you think they are likely to take an interest
- Morning shows: while you can try to pitch the show hosts directly, often the show’s producer will be setting the lineup of guests to be interviewed.
If this feels too daunting or overwhelming, you could hire a press release service to distribute your news release. PRMediaRelease was recommended by the Illinois Press Association and turns out, it’s “powered by the media” which in my opinion means it’s more likely to get things right and help you provide what they are looking for. As of this writing you can get media distribution in your state to local editors, journalists, daily and weekly newspapers, and TV and radio stations, plus some online distribution too for $149. Granted you likely don’t need it distributed to the whole state, but depending on your rates, it’s only the cost of two or three sessions and if it gets you media coverage when you wouldn’t have otherwise, it’s a small price to pay. Note: while this article is about pitching news stories, this service is for news releases which are similar as it’s a way to get some media coverage. PRMediaRelease also has a free tool to help you create your news release.
Step 4: Send your email
Remember your subject line is the most important part of the email. If it doesn’t get your email opened, the rest of what you write doesn’t even matter. You’ve got to think about what is most compelling about your idea and focus on that.
For the email itself, you want to keep it short and simple and make sure you get to the point in the first sentence. I’ve put together this template you can use as a guide. (The MORE FEET Club also has some ready-to-send emails you can copy and paste for specific pitches.)
That’s it! Well until they contact you for the story!
If everything goes well, the reporter/journalist/editor will love your pitch and call or email you for an interview. If you don’t hear back, just move on with a new pitch idea or send the same one to a different media outlet.
Do you have questions? Leave them as a comment below!
- Mics Uncut interview photo featuring the show’s host, Ahavah Mauré (on right), interviewing Chama St. Louis (on left). © Mics Uncut, an emerging talk show for underground artists, entrepreneurs & game-changers that currently films in Peoria, IL.
- Magazine photo by Mattias Diesel on Unsplash (Unsplash is a website I trust when I or my clients need free stock photography)