From Beast to BFF – Getting the Media to Eat Out of Your Hand


Is snagging an article in the Wall Street Journal a superpower? Do you need a genetic mutation to catch a reporter’s eye? If the media keeps turning up its nose at your association’s newsworthy accomplishments, it might seem that way.

Getting your organization in print (in a good way) doesn’t require magic. During her recent .orgCommunity webinar, Actionable Steps Garner Media Attention, Adele Cehrs, media magnet and CEO and Founder of When and How Agency (formerly Epic PR Group), gave practical advice and tips that you can use to develop a robust presence in the press.

Adele is a regular contributor to both the Wall Street Journal and Inc. Magazine as well as the author of SPIKE Your Brand. Her clients include ASAE, Lockheed Martin and Vice President Joe Biden. Having begun her career as a journalist for publications such as George Magazine and USA Today, she shared her unique insight into how with the proper care and feeding the media beast can become your new best friend.

Forget the Myths

I don’t have a story the media wants to hear.
We can’t stand out in this crowd.
I don’t know anyone influential.
Print media isn’t worth the time or the effort. We’re better off focusing on our social channels.

Adele busted these common myths that prevent associations from getting the coverage they want and deserve. She emphasized that mainstream media can, and should be, a complement to social platforms. Here are a few reasons why working to get your stories published is a wise decision. You will:

  • Gain legitimacy and prestige
  • Get broad-based exposure
  • Put your brand in the public eye
  • Highlight your association’s credibility
  • Avoid social burnout
  • Make your board happy

Know Your Customers

Getting that coveted media attention is not about how loud you shout or whether your story grabs readers by the throat. Forget about writing the article; that’s the reporter’s job. There’s also no need to get laryngitis spreading the news. If you can prove that you are a credible expert with up-to-the-minute information to share reporters will listen. They have a broad understanding of their beats. They need you to provide the relevance and knowledge that makes news.

Adele likens media relations to sales, membership development or fundraising, you need to methodically build your database. Don’t expect water when you’ve drained the well. You can’t go back to the same ten people time after time. Keep expanding the number and types of contacts on your media roster. But remember, these are your customers. As you grow the list, be sure to deepen your understanding about their individual wants and needs.

Here are some practical steps you can take to discover untapped outlets and find your niche in the news world:

  • Study the landscape–It’s unrealistic to expect to be in the news, if you don’t read the paper. Identify your media-twin. Who is getting the coverage that could have been yours? What expertise can you contribute that they missed.
  • Show the love–Reporters want to hear from their readers. Follow columns and let their authors know what you like, what you might have added to the story or what they missed, in a respectful and generous way, of course. There may be an opportunity for a follow-up article where your comments could be featured.
  • Don’t lose track–Keep a record of the reporters you are following and the contacts you make

Land the Pitch

Your pitch is the carefully crafted, irresistible morsel you’ll dangle in front of a publisher or reporter to capture attention. if properly prepared, it has a good chance of being snapped up. How do you create this tantalizing treat? The answer is—Don’t make candy. There should be no empty calories in your message. Use these seven strategies to deliver the protein.

  1. Get to the point–You only have a paragraph or two to make an impression.
    Know your audience–Be sure that your story is right for the publication and the reporter you contact.
  2. Validate claims–Provide data such as research or expert sources, other than yourself or your members, to verify your story. Use trade publications, academic papers, pundits and polls to prove your point. A story that comes gift wrapped in facts and quotable content, makes you somebody reporters want to work with.
  3. Break it down–Use the rule of three. People can only assimilate so much. Don’t overwhelm. Cite two relevant statistics and one little known fact or astounding bit of information.
  4. Be timely–Highlight how your story fits current trends and why it’s relevant right now.
  5. Make it farm to table–Geography counts. Giving your story a local angle makes it more attractive to regional publications. If it didn’t happen in the neighborhood, find a local expert to comment.
  6. It doesn’t hurt to name drop–If you have mutual or well-known contacts, by all means, use them.

Once you’ve created an unforgettable pitch, what’s the best way to get it into the right hands. Contact information is typically listed along with a reporter’s byline. Other options are direct messaging via Twitter. Adele advises against messaging reporters directly on Facebook. But you could join Facebook groups or Slack channels that include members of the media. Databases of media contacts are available for purchase, but the price is steep. You could also hire a consultant to develop a list for you.

I haven’t covered half of the strategy that Adele shared with us. Her best performing pitch letters and tricks for getting time on your favorite talk show were exclusive for webinar viewers. But I hope that you’re inspired to try her recommendations. Making the media your new BFF could just make you a hero. Your members want to be in the spotlight, and they’ll remember who put them there.

Interested in learning more about pitching? Try these links:

Contact Adele at:

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