How early do I need to contact journalists with my story?
Are you thinking of pitching a story around your pet business or products and not sure how soon you should get in touch?
This month is Christmas in July, an annual event where brands large and small showcase their Christmas offerings.
It’s a reminder that if you’re thinking of pitching anything related to Christmas you need to start thinking about promoting it now.
And whatever story it is you’re thinking of contacting the media about, how successful you will be does depend on your planning.
In this episode, I’m going to talk about when to pitch and explore some different scenarios and stories you might have about your pet business.
You can listen in on the player link below or read as a blog post.
How early you need to pitch depends on a lot of different factors but the key message is…
You can never pitch too early!
I’ve just been featured in a new online publication, the Puppy Post, which is a magazine for pet owners and pet professionals.
The edition came out at the beginning of July, but I was first in touch with Libi and Rivka, the ladies behind the magazine, back in January.
Also featured is Roz from ByBenji, who pitched to them as part of a PR challenge I ran in January too, so you can see that magazines can have a long lead time.
(To sign up for the next PR challenge in September, here’s the link: PR challenge)
How early do I need to pitch a news story?
If your pitch is linked to a news story then you need to get in touch straight away.
For example, we’re currently coming out of lockdown and last month in Bournemouth there was a huge story about people flocking to a beach.
If you were a dog walker or trainer in Bournemouth, you could contribute to this story by speaking about your concern.
It would be an idea to highlight the dangers of dogs being on a beach on a hot, crowded day.
It’s inevitable that some people at the beach would have had their dogs with them and it would be fitting for you to talk about this as a pet professional.
How early should I pitch a business story?
Are you thinking of pitching an idea to a business page? How early you pitch would depend on the nature of the story.
If it was a feature about your business, for example, A Day In the Life section or The Lessons I’ve Learned, timing wouldn’t matter so much.
If it was a story about an award which would be of interest to a local or regional business page section, you’d need to pitch the idea as soon as possible after winning the award.
For example, if you won the award and it was announced on the Saturday night, you should have a pitch ready for Monday.
How early should I pitch to be part of a product round up?
Do you have a product that’s suited to a particular event or time of the year?
If you have a Christmas range, you need to start thinking about pitching it now.
If you pitch in November, lots of Christmas features will be done already. It’s only the national newspapers that would look for live Christmas ideas.
For example, Kim O’Donnell from Leo, Charley and Me worked with me last Christmas on promoting her festive collar, lead and bandana set.
She started pitching about this in October as soon as the products were made and photographed.
This meant she featured in a range of local publications and blogs who were interested in featuring her business and she also had time to pitch them as a national newspaper competition prize.
She pitched to another national pet page and had them featured in a product section.
In Spring, she launched Tote bags with matching collars, leads and accessories in lively, spring prints.
Kim sent off a pitch to Your Dog magazine about new products at the end of January as they were fresh looks for Spring and was featured in the March issue.
How early should I pitch about a charity event?
If you’re doing something remarkable for charity, this could be a nice news story, and it’s important you tell journalists about it early.
Let’s say you’re doing a sponsored bike ride to raise money for animal shelters like Dominic Hodgson did on the Tour De Rescue last year.
We worked on a series of press releases that went out to newspapers in each of the areas he was visiting between a month and two weeks ahead of the event.
One was about Dominic and what he was doing, and this appeared in the Sunday Mirror, Mirror Online and in several regional newspapers like the Newcastle Chronicle and the Sunderland Echo.
The other release was tailored to each area he was visiting, raising awareness of the workshops, what people would learn from attending and general information about the tour.
He had live coverage during the tour, so radio interviews and took a videographer, Alex Wardle from Artifact Media, to document it for his own website and social media.
Following his tour, Dominic put out another release about the money raised for the rescues and the entire tour was covered in two dog magazines.
How early should I contact a journalist about a launch?
Are you launching something new like a book, pet product or a service?
Again, start as early as you can. Also consider the product might not be enough in itself to be newsworthy.
Think about what you can do to create something that is going to give value to readers.
For example, if you’re launching a puppy training book and you’d like local coverage, consider holding a free workshop for owners to attend.
Carol Clark aka the Doggy Doctor did this when she launched From Problem Pup to Perfect Pet and invited a journalist along with their dog for a training session.
Let’s say you’re launching a new trip of eco poo bag. Turn it into a campaign to clean up the walks in your local area and it will be more likely to entice the journalist.
I use this example so many times because it’s a great one.
Jenny from Scizzor Yappy in Warrington offered story about her grooming the local shelter dogs for free to her local paper and it resulted in a full page story.
This is far more appealing than a press release about a new business opening.
Tina Elven from Woof Wag Dogs is running summer camps for kids and dogs starting this month. She started working on the launch in April.
She planned ahead meaning she’s had families sign up from all over the world.
How early do I get in touch with a journalist about an awareness day story?
If you’re putting a story forward with an angle that’s based on an awareness day, for a local weekly or daily, I would pitch a month ahead of the day.
For example, later this month, on July 26th, it’s National Dog Photography Day. The founder, Kerry Jordan, pitches ideas about this all year round.
Whenever she pitches as a pet photographer, she talks about being the founder of the awareness day, as that’s relevant to her business.
But anything themed around activity on that day would be pitched at least a month before the awareness day and you can find out more about Kerry at www.furandfables.com.
You can still send out ideas closer to the time – I had lots of press releases last week about Bring Your Dog To Work Day, which took place on June 26th.
This is because I’m on the same ‘pet’ media lists as journalists on national newspapers who run live stories.
It’s never too early to get in touch with a journalist, whatever your story is about.
The sooner you start planning, researching the publications and writers you want to connect with, the more likely you are to be successful in landing your story.
If you leave it to the last minute, you’ll find you’re stressed and running around like a headless chicken, so plan ahead.
Planning ahead? You can download my free Press Release Template here.
Sign up for the next PR challenge in September here: PR challenge
Other resources you may find helpful:
Hi, I’m Rachel, a freelance journalist and PR and content consultant and crazy dog lady!
I’ve written so many stories about animals and pet brands that I wrote a book on how pet entrepreneurs can do their own PR.
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