Ever read a great article about a local artist or filmmaker and think, Man, I wish they would do a story about me! It’s not as hard as you might imagine to get press coverage for your art or creative project. Contrary to popular belief, print media is not dead — and in fact, many publications are hungry for content, especially human interest stories. So, how can you get your name on a journalist’s desk? Follow these steps.
Find your pitch
Newspapers are just that: they focus on news. If you have nothing coming out, you likely won’t catch a news editor’s eye. Magazines are a bit more lenient and often publish “evergreen” content and general human-interest stories. However, you’ll probably have to wait a while for coverage.
Either way, make sure that you hook an editor’s attention with a well-refined pitch. You and all the people reading this article want to have an article written about you: it’s up to you to tell an editor why they should choose you. Do you have an interesting background or “origin story”? Is your work socially relevant or tied into a current sociopolitical issue? Are you involving members of the community (i.e. the publication’s readers) in your work? These are all angles you can play up to make your story more enticing.
Do your research
Once you know what you’re going to pitch, find the right person to read it. As a rule of thumb, sending your pitch to a general news submission form or email@example.com is a good way to ensure it never sees the light of day. Spend some time with each publication of interest. Look at the bylines of other stories about people like you. Who wrote them? Was it a staff writer? If so, you might be able to reach out to them directly.
Otherwise, find the publication’s list of editors. Identify the person who’s most likely to accept your pitch, e.g. the “Culture” editor or “Local” editor. Then, do your homework on them. See if they’re active on LinkedIn or another social network, engage with their posts, and figure out the best way to contact them. Editors get TONS of cold emails, so if they recognize your name, they’re more likely to open your message.
Assemble a media kit
Press releases are so 2010. These days, you should expect that content publishers want assets to accompany a digital version of your story. In fact, they’d probably love to have most of the legwork done, since they’re horrifically understaffed and overworked. Make it easy for them with a media kit.
A media kit is a package of information about your story. It may include a short biography, artist statement, CV, headshot, social media links, and quick facts about your work. For example, if you’re trying to get press coverage for your upcoming independent film, you can include your bio, the film synopsis, basic details e.g. runtime, a link to the trailer on YouTube, and an approved promotional image. This gives a journalist everything they need. The easier you make it for them, the more likely they are to pick up your story.
Put it all together
Once you’ve got your list of email addresses, your pitch, and your media kit ready, start composing messages. Send a customized email to each contact, rather than an obvious copy-and-paste. State very briefly why you think your story deserves coverage in this publication and why readers will appreciate it. Direct the reader to open your attached media kit for more information. Oh, and thank them for their time! A little courtesy goes a long way.
With practice, you can easily procure media coverage for your creative work. As with any sort of promotion or marketing, think about your personal brand. Always maintain a professional, consistent presence, and clearly communicate your message to your reader. Then, go forth and get yourself some press coverage!
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