If you want news coverage on television or in print, Jeff Crilley is the man who can help you get it. During his Friday talk, “How to Get Covered in the News,” jewelers learned three important tips from the 20-year veteran television reporter and newly minted author of a book—Free Publicity—on the topic.
First among his suggestions: Pick slow news times to pitch your stories to reporters. For television reporters, a slow news time is Thanksgiving week. Crilley told attendees that half of all consumer news stories come from the government, and another large portion comes from corporations. Circle government holidays on your calendar and keep an eye on corporate affairs, and you’ll know the best times to pitch your ideas. In the absence of government and corporate stories, reporters have to fill the void.
Second among Crilley’s tips: Pitch appropriate stories during “feeding frenzies.” These periods are when particular topics—the war in Iraq, the immigration issue, interest rates, etc.—are being discussed at length by the media. “Give reporters what they’re buying,” said Crilley. Jewelers should pitch jewelry stories around the holidays.
Finally, appeal to journalists’ egos. Read what they’ve written or covered in the past and give them sincere compliments prior to a pitch. Express interest in stories they’ve written that don’t directly benefit you, too. “It’s like a friend that only comes to you when he wants money,” Crilley said.
While jewelers will get rejected by journalists along the way, you can approach other journalists on the same staff if one isn’t interested in your idea. However, if your press release reads like a commercial for your store, it may be thrown away. Crilley uses his own advice to garner free publicity for his self-published book, and he has a binder full of press clips to prove his success. “There is a wonderful world of news marketing coverage that nobody is going after,” he said.