Every day, journalists are bombarded with emails from people looking for a piece of free publicity for their business, organisation or project.

If you’re in business and understand the value of PR, you will wJant to know how to get free publicity for your business.

I have estimated that in my 17 years as a journalist, I received well over 160,000 emailed pitches for stories. I have written or worked on over 10,000 stories. This is a lot of stories, but what happened to the other 150,000?

They got trashed!!! Deleted! Dumped! Ignored! Frowned at! Yawned at! 

They didn’t make the cut! They didn’t know how to get free publicity for their business.

You see, there is a formula for it. Journalists have a job – to inform, educate and entertain. We try to inspire too.

Our job is not to boost your profit margins and grow your business.

I’m not alone in this – every journalist will tell you the same thing.

Don’t believe me – have a read of this. I asked a number of Ireland’s top journalists to give me their top tips to help you land your story in the media.

Here’s what top Irish journalists had to say about how to get free publicity for your business.

Susan Daly, Managing Editor, Journal.ie

Remove term: J

  • Find the right person to pitch to… emails to the general news address can get lost as so much content is sent there.
  • Personalise your email to the journalist and the publication.
  • Journalists might run weekly business profiles, or start-up spotlights, or some other product…figure out why your business might work there and explain that to them.
  • What is in your company story that appeals to a national audience?
  • Do a bit of work to give the person or publication a reason to include you.

Sean Defoe, Journalist – Newstalk, Today FM, 98FM and Spin South West & often heard on KCLR

  • Lead with the most interesting thing you have to say.
  • Why should the dispassionate observer care about your story over 20 others that might come in that day?
  • Some businesses have gone about this different ways – telling their community story, sharing the personal hardship of being pushed to the wall, lashing out at politicians or even threatening to breach restrictions! NOT CONDONED!
  • Once you decide what your unique story or angle is, refine it to a snappy line or two…lead your email or phone call with that and a brief explanation of who you are.
  • Include contact details (you’d be amazed how many don’t!).
  • Research the media outlet and journalists you’re pitching to.

Eimear Ní Bhraonáin, Head of Content KCLR & presenter of KCLR Live 

The elements of a great story are…

  • A hook to grab the listener or reader (what’s your angle?)
  • A local story that can have universal meaning (can everybody relate to it?)
  • Visuals can be important depending on the medium (ie a good photograph).

Pitching tips:

  • Don’t call a show pitching an interview during a live broadcast. It’s usually the craziest time of day.
  • Don’t call a radio station between five to the hour and five past (news is on air, and it can be all-hands-on-deck and frantic before the main bulletin).
  • Do a bit of homework to know where your story “fits in”… which show are you aiming for and why? Same with newspapers… you should know the title you are pitching to and where it fits. If you figure this out, you have more chance of landing your story.

Dylan White, Multimedia Journalist and Editor, Iconic Newspapers – ie, TipperaryLive.ie, WaterfordLive.ie, Carlow Live

  • Positive human-interest stories captured through storytelling are fantastic for enhancing a business’s reputation. Did a member of your team just win an award with their Tidy Towns group or a county final with the local GAA club? Sing it from the rooftops.
  • Stories should aim to bring value to readers’ lives.  An attention-grabbing introduction, insightful comments from relevant people throughout and a memorable conclusion are essential. High-resolution photos should accompany stories, infographics are engaging, and there is also the option for video and audio for digital publications.
  • Positively engage with journalists on an ongoing basis. Create a dialogue, give them a steer in the right direction with potential leads and journalists will return the favour.

Conal O’Boyle, Editor of The Carlow Nationalist and Laois Nationalist

  • The golden rule is to ask yourself: Do I have something worthwhile to say?’
  • This is the test of a press release: is the story worth printing? Why should busy journalists give up their time to go to this launch? Why should an editor pay a photographer to go along to take a picture?
  • If you want to attract our attention, pick up the phone or drop us an email. It’s much more effective than a press
    release.
  • We want to hear from you if you have a new product or service that is of interest to our readers, you’re creating new jobs, you have won awards, you’re relocating or expanding your premises, even if you’re going out of business, we want to hear from you.
  • It’s my job to sell newspapers and to make every item that goes into it as interesting as possible…I tend to get very fussy about what I put into it.

Ralph Riegal, Irish Independent

  • Know your message, your target audience & the paper/radio station you are dealing with.
  • I’m baffled by the quantity of press releases I get from qualified PR people who think I can write about stove promotions, hotel deals, supermarket openings etc.
  • It’s obvious that they don’t read the Independent…so know your target media outlet & what the journalist you are talking to writes about.

John Purcell – Chief Executive of KCLR & Chairperson of Independent Broadcasters of Ireland, presenter of The Bottom Line

  • Think about how to stand out from the crowd – what is your hook?
  • Great stories can come from company milestones, awards, company launches/ new product launches, employment opportunities and local angles connected to national/international stories.

Do

  • Your research – know about the organisation you are engaging with and ensure you are contacting the correct department/individual
  • Make your story interesting & relevant to the target audience/media outlet
  • Understand that journalists are very often working with limited resources
  • Present your story at the right time in a professional manner
  • Emphasise the story rather than a bid for free publicity
  • Be prepared to engage with the media

Don’t:

  • Send a generic email
  • Submit a story/ request an interview at the last minute

Dean Egan, News and sports editor, news presenter Beat 102/103 FM

  • We don’t always get time to read each email in detail, so we often just scan the subject line and the body of the email. It’s in those couple of lines that you sell the idea to us.
  • We cover 5 counties in the South East, so it’s not always easy to catch onto every story, so grab our attention straight away.
  • Look for the angle on your story that isn’t necessarily “traditional”.
  • Don’t write your media release like an ad for your business.
  • Always include your media statement/press release in the body of your email.

Media campaigns are great for business. With the right angles and amplification, as part of a strategic visibility effort, they will turbo boost your marketing. Media campaigns can be run across local, regional or national media (and sometimes international). They can run across radio, print, TV, online and podcasts and involve targeted press release distribution and interview arrangement.

If you need some advice on how to land a positive PR campaign in the media and how to get free publicity for your business, I offer a FREE 20-minute discovery call to see if you’re newsworthy. Get in touch today.

Christine Tobin and Solas Media Solutions is a full member of the PR Institute of Ireland adhering to the PRII Code of Ethics.