How to sell your story to journalists
Yesterday, we had the pleasure of attending Top Drawer London to meet up and coming designers and to see what fabulous new products will be hitting stores in 2018.
One of the great things about Top Drawer is the fascinating and insightful talks they host in collaboration with PaperFest. And yesterday, we were one of the lucky ones able to grab a seat at the packed-out seminar on how to sell your story to journalists by renowned freelance journalist, Fiona McCarthy.
So we thought we would share some of Fiona’s words of wisdom on our blog for those who didn’t get to see her in action:
Find your story
Journalists like to hear about the person behind the brand, especially if they have an interesting story as to how they started the business. What makes you or your business unique compared to your rivals? Did you change careers later in life? Do you have a triumph over tragedy story? Do you raise money for charity doing strenuous ultra marathons? If you can’t think of anything truly outstanding to share, another option could be finding other people in the same vein as you, whether that be same industry, same area or similar age or life experience and pitch your story out together. Journalists don’t have much time spare to research new feature ideas so if you can go to them with a ready-made feature, you’re more likely to get a reply.
Know your market, know your target
Probably the biggest gripe for journalists is being sent press releases or story ideas that are completely irrelevant to them. Really think about who your target audience is and what magazines, newspapers and blogs they read and only target them. If you are selling traditional, country style products, you don’t want to be emailing magazines targeted at young, modern living. Also, know what the journalist writes and what their past features have been on. Do you fit with these? Have they featured something similar before?
Revamp your press releases
As I mentioned earlier, journalists are always short on time and about four deadlines behind so making life as easy as possible for them will get you instant brownie points. Keep your press releases short and snappy, with one clear message and never send as an attachment! I can promise you it will not get opened. If you are writing about a range, best practice is to start with the star product and then feature the other items further below.
Photography is possibly the most expensive task all online retailers must undertake, so make sure you have at the very least high resolution (300 dpi) cut-outs that have been shot on a flat white background. Don’t just opt for web-friendly images at 75 dpi as journalists need large images for their pages so they look nice and glossy and not pixelated and fuzzy. Again, you want to make the journalist's job as easy as possible and with these, they can just drag and drop straight on to their page. Job done!
If you can afford the luxury of lifestyle imagery, think about what colours and trends are rising in popularity and make sure the scene suits the furniture. And don’t just opt for close-up lifestyle shots of your product, style the room with accessories (even if they are not your products) and take whole room shots from a variety of different angles.
Social media is your shop front!
When you have a million and one things to do, it is very common that posting on your social media channels gets further down the list. But social media is a crucial touch point with your potential customers (and journalists!)
If time is sparse, make a plan and stick to it; whether that is once a day or once a week, frequency is key here and keep your imagery beautiful and ‘on brand’.
Another expensive aspect of getting into a journalist’s good graces is by sending them a sample. As we touched on earlier, if you have set aside a budget for this, make sure what you are sending is relevant and of interest to the journalist. Do they actually write about items like your product? For example, if they have never written about fabric, don’t send them a swatch.
Like us slightly less significant beings, journalists hate waste and will feel guilty about receiving something they can’t write about. Meaning your lovely sample is more than likely to be re-gifted, or even worse, chucked in the bin!
If you would like to see your brand and products featured in your favourite publications but lack the time to pursue yourself, please contact us to find out more about our affordable PR packages.