How do I get in the Business Record?
That is the most common question I’m asked and for good reason. Why else would you be talking to the editor of the Business Record?
At the end of the day, everyone ultimately wants to be featured, quoted or have their business profiled — and why not? It’s good for your business. Let’s face it; at one time or another, you’ve probably seen a business featured or somebody quoted and thought, “Why not me?” Trust me, you aren’t alone.
We are constantly bombarded with press releases and phone calls and story pitches — and one of the toughest things we do as a newsroom is determine what is or isn’t a story for our audience. Some pitches are excellent, others are just OK, some are just off base, and on occasion, some are even rude and off-putting.
But, we want your press releases, phone calls and story pitches. It’s how we ultimately put out a great product full of the stories our readers find compelling.
So, I want to help you help us to get you in the Business Record.
For the purpose of my next few blog posts, I’ll be sharing the do’s and don’ts of interacting with the newsroom. It’s the rare cold call that instantly results in a story. Rather, it takes patience, understanding and a relationship with our newsroom. For those who truly figure it out, sometimes, making the Business Record happens without even trying.
I promise that if you follow my advice in the coming posts, you’ll be well on your way to increasing your chances of being featured in the Business Record. We’ll start off this week with a look at three basics, which will help lay a foundation for helping you reach out effectively to the Business Record.
DON’T: “Order a news pizza”
Phone calls from public relations reps pitching a story often go a bit like this: “I have a really interesting story that is about Y and X and here are all the details I want in the story.” Then comes the ask. “When will this story published in the Business Record?” Whoa. Hold on a second. I just met you. I often joke that at times people call up and pitch a story like they are ordering a pizza.
Sure the above example is extreme, but trust me, many pitches have this tone in one way or another, and it is one that you want to avoid. Nothing is more off-putting and harmful to your chances of getting a story than approaching it with an expectation that we will publish a story based on a 30-second call. More often than not, this is rooted in a lack of understanding of some of the tips that follow.
DO: Know our audience
We often are approached with story ideas that just frankly have no business being in a business publication — a new basket weaving studio, for example. This wastes a reporter’s time, and doesn’t help you get in the publication. The reason this happens is the story pitcher’s lack of understanding of our publication’s target audience. So, let me help. We are a business-to-business journal, with an audience of top-level executives and community leaders who have an average net worth of $1.8 million.
Our audience isn’t made up of general consumers, but rather top decision-makers. They read our products to stay plugged into the business scene, stay aware of the trends and issues that could impact their business and to meet key players in the community. They do this so that they can make decisions to better their businesses and careers. So, sorry, but your new basket weaving class likely isn’t of interest to our readers — but given the right frame of reference and a skilled pitch, it could be. What? Really? Basket weaving? You’ll have to wait for a future post on that one.
DO: Understand whom we serve
Our job is to serve that audience described above. Every decision on what we publish in our products ultimately comes back to one question: Why would the Business Record audience care? That’s the same question you should try to answer in advance of reaching out with a story idea. If you can’t answer the question, you probably shouldn’t be making the pitch.
That being said, if you aren’t sure or can’t find the reason, call us and discuss the idea under the premise of “hey, I’m not sure about this, but is this a story for your audience?” That simple change in delivery, from ordering a pizza to having a discussion about whether a story will serve our audience, will go a long way. And you never know; we might see an angle for our audience that you didn’t initially see.
That’s where I’ll leave you for now. In my next piece, we’ll build on the above and I’ll help you understand what makes for a compelling Business Record story. I’ll have more do’s and don’ts in future blog posts as well, touching on subjects such as how we cover events, building relationships with reporters, understanding our different product missions and tips for editor-eye catching press releases. As always, if you want to talk further or you’d like me to speak to your trade organization or breakfast club, feel free to reach out. I’d be more than happy to help.