It’s all about the PR sell-in

It’s a rare window of opportunity: the unpredictable hand of PR fate and timing many of us may only encounter a few times in our careers (sniff). The journalist from your primary target publication, coveted and read from cover to cover by all your would-be customers has called for a chat about a 400-word-sized editorial space they need to fill and…they’re open to suggestions!

You’ve got the perfect story: not too salesy, not too empty, not too cliched…and you can meet the deadline because you have the content ready to go, already approved by the upper echelons. It’s PR nirvana.

But doh! You fluff the sell-in. You email the journalist (along with a few others, coz two birds and one stone, you know) and give them a showreel on how not to use hyperbole – what a super, smashing great idea right? Ahem, well, no.

It seems obvious but getting the sell-in right can take some doing.

Whether you’re an in-house marketer, from an out-house agency or you’re a small business owner, the following tips will help you with some successful story selling:

  • Don’t email. Use the phone. If, unlike the example above (and let’s be truthful, an unlikely everyday scenario) there’s no phone call from a journalist with a magical space to fill, you have to be proactive with a sell-in. And there’s nothing that says pro-activity less than a snoozy, impersonal email. Don’t waste time crafting the perfect message. Get to the point with a call, it’s direct, less time-consuming and allows both to respond to more subtle inferences.  Speaking to people builds relationships better, faster and stronger.
  • Have a look at other stories in your target publication that have been written recently. If you want to pitch a story on ‘predictions for automation in warehousing for 2018’ and there’s just been a feature published on the ‘impact of automation in warehousing’, chances are you’re too late with the idea. Go back to the drawing board and look at a fresh angle, there’s nothing more cringeworthy than selling in an ‘exclusive’ that was written two weeks ago. Reading target publications regularly will develop an instinctive feel for the direction of key areas of interest, allowing you to predict with more accuracy where and how to pitch forthcoming article ideas.
  • Be enthusiastic. Not just about your story but about your company. Have you ever listened to a story told by someone who is passionate? Even if you don’t share their passion, the enthusiasm is contagious and although it may not secure you the article right now, it’s goes a long way in priming that relationship for a future pitch.
  • Get rid of the robin. The round robin, that is. No one likes to feel like a number and neither do journalists. There’s a time and a place for a distribution list when numbers count, but for quality content it spells desperation and lack of thought to a journalist.