Practice makes perfect with anything, including public relations. That said, we'd rather you stop making mistakes that could be holding you back from press, media relationships or simply wasting time, which is why we created this list. Compiled from the collection of things we see small business owners do all too often, here are a few items you want to be sure you are not doing when reaching out to the press!
If you see a PR Lead that you're not a fit for, but that DOES contain the contacts of a member of the media you would love to share your story with, don't immediately pitch them your story (unless you are a fit for said story). They are clearly working on something else and expecting answer for their own query. This is bad timing to pitch something out of left field. Instead store their contacts in your media tracking sheet and make a note in your calendar to follow up with them later in the week or month, when they're not being innundated with answers to their own PR Lead.
If a media request asks for tips, share tips with them in your follow up email. Don't say "Hi I'm XXX and I can give you tips if you reach out to me". This is not the best way to get press or grow a media relationship. Immediately follow up with tips and validate yourself as an expert (or someone with something worthwhile to say). No need to write an essay but give them a few nuggets, and then tell them they can reach out to you to connect about more. This is a small change that can make a big difference in your response rate!
Repeat after me: I will not write the actual story when I'm supposed to be writing the pitch." I'm serious. Too many business owners write paragraphs (or one long, continuous essay) about themselves or their business instead of pitching the ideas for a story to the press. Here's the problem there, you may in fact have written a great story in that email, but no one is going to read it all to find out. Your job is to quickly and clearly (with a good hook) email them about who you are, your story, and clearly illustrate why it's a solid fit for their readers, viewers or listeners. Do this with short groups of sentences and bullets if you want maximum effectiveness. If you need help cutting down your email imagine if you were reading it to them on the phone. You would not read them a two page essay. You would be to the point and interesting and lay out your key points first and clearly. Again, "I will not write the actual story when I'm supposed to be writing the pitch."
Don't forget to track your pitch (including who you pitched and what the date was) and follow up! If you don't track it you won't know when you emailed them and thus, when best to reach out again. That makes the entire pitching process much less powerful, and much more disorganized - to things that can throw you off your PR game more than you know!