Media coverage is one of the fastest ways to position yourself as a health and wellness expert and reach a broader audience with your message. However, with so many stories competing for limited air time, you may be unsure how to cut through the noise to even get the chance to pitch your idea. The key is in building the right relationships with the right people and then tailoring a pitch that will resonate with them.
Here’s a simple guide to help you engage with the right public professionals to listen to your pitch and help you get a featured news segment or story that showcases your expertise:
1. Know where to look
The first step in pitching your story is to identify where you want to pitch it. Your area of knowledge won’t be a fit for every news outlet, so spend your time researching the publications and news programs in your area that are most compatible with your message.
Don’t forget about educational and community programs, as well as newspapers. If their demographic is the right fit, it’s one more place to get featured as an expert and to strengthen your personal brand. With the proliferation of backlinks and content sharing on the internet, all legitimate opportunities to position yourself as a subject matter expert to an interested audience are valuable.
For newspapers, start with the US Newspaper Listing and check out the relevant publications in your area. For local radio stations, use this radio locator to identify the signals that are broadcast in your area, and narrow your outreach to stations that are likely to be interested in your pitch. You can also search local television listings by zip code to create your target list. Most television station websites also list media and PR contacts, as well as guidelines for submitting pitches. More on that in a moment.
Now that you know which media outlets you want to reach out to, you can start focusing on which personnel you need to present your pitch to and how to increase the likelihood that they will feature you as a health and wellness expert.
2. Know who to contact
Invest the time in finding the right PR contacts to hear your pitch. Just like you wouldn’t pitch to every media outlet, regardless of demographic, you shouldn’t contact the first name on a PR list and assume that they will welcome a pitch about health and wellness.
The first and easiest place to start looking for contact names is on media websites. Check the “About Us” or “Contact Us” pages first (you can usually find these at the bottom of the home page).
Next, conduct a good, old-fashioned Google search to see what kinds of articles or genres each PR contact is associated with. Look for people who have experience with health and wellness or related topics.
If Google doesn’t return the results you need, check LinkedIn to read the biographies and professional experience of each person on your list. Their experience doesn’t have to be an exact match for your area of expertise. Do they have a background in lifestyle features? Are they in charge of community-focused stories? Connections don’t have to be 1:1 to have value.
3. Know how to connect
Once you’ve identified the right contacts to hear your pitch, start gathering their contact information. Websites like Rocket Reach or a plugin like SignalHire can find and return results for phone numbers and email addresses of LinkedIn and other social media accounts. If you have an email marketing strategy, you can use your email marketing platform to keep track of your press outreach performance.
If you can’t find the information you need online, call the media outlet and explain who you are and why you need to reach their public relations team. Often, you’ll get what you need with just a simple ask. Remember that these media outlets want to pitch quality stories — be confident in the value of the expertise that you have to offer.
After you’ve reached out to your contacts for the first time, send a LinkedIn connection request. It’s an easy way for the PR person to check out your experience and education to see that you are a legitimate wellness professional, and it also puts your name in front of them (and top of mind) twice.
4. Know what to pitch
Every pitch should contain a few foundational elements. The first is a customized greeting that addresses your contact by name. Generic greetings will be dismissed immediately. You’ve already taken the time to research your contacts — use their name and title in everything you send out to them.
Next, think of a subject line that will grab your contact’s attention. Look for recent stories or news trends that will help your reader make a subconscious connection between you and their publication or news outlet. It should make them want to read your message to learn more.
For example, would you rather read an email with the subject line “Intermittent fasting submission,” or “Help your viewers fight chronic disease and improve their brain health in just 16 hours.” Be careful not to sensationalize, but use the opportunity to show your creativity and confidence.
The body of your email should be as succinct as possible while answering a few important questions:
- What problem are you going to solve for viewers? Set this up by presenting the problem and the imperative need to address it. For example, “Someone has a heart attack in the United States every 40 seconds. Many people are unaware of even simple changes they can make to their lifestyle to reduce the risk of heart attack by 50% or more.”
- Next, offer a few key points to intrigue the reader even further. Connect your points to the local community, if possible, to further tie yourself to the audience.
- Once you’ve introduced the topic, position yourself as the expert on the topic you’ve presented. Give a few brief reasons why you are the right person to solve this problem for the audience, whether it’s your educational background, professional experience, or recent research you’ve conducted.
- Tie everything together by creating a sense of urgency. Example: “Heart disease is an epidemic that has touched every person in our community in some way. We have to take steps to stop it, and that starts with education. I want to help the TV6 audience improve their heart health and quality of life, by…”
- Lastly, ask for what you want. If you want to set a meeting with the contact, suggest some times. If you want them to call or email you, offer your information and ask them to contact you. Let them know when you’re available to take their call. This is the time to be polite but bold in your pitch. Remember — you’re the expert, and you’re offering something of value.
Wherever possible, use statistics and tangible numbers (citing your sources). It adds credibility to your pitch and to you as an expert. Above all, be sincere and show that you’ve taken the time to research the media outlet and the person you’re pitching to.
PR professionals get dozens of pitches. Help yours rise to the top by following the prescription of knowing where to position yourself as an expert, finding the right contacts, building rapport with them, and crafting a pitch that fills a specific need for their audience.