In our latest Breakfast Seminar, we had Pat Wooding, Executive Editor of the Daily Star, and David Blackmore, Reporter and Producer for one of Britain’s biggest daytime shows, in-house to discuss how to land your Christmas campaign.
Here are the take-away points from this event:
When pitching your Christmas campaign, don’t just target the news desk – seek out younger, hungry reporters who are more likely to push your story. Build and cultivate these relationships and create a rapport. Another point on this is that news editors are really busy – but they will listen to their reporters. Finally, don’t send your story to all journalists – find the best contact for your story.
Don’t Ignore Smaller Media Outlets
Local papers and websites are often more likely to pick up your Christmas story and have an excellent chance of generating the kind of engagement it needs to make it fly.
Make Your Christmas Campaign Human
When pitching your story for print or broadcast, you need to appeal to the ‘person industry’. Pat and David both agreed that they only tend to use the stories that they are interested in, so, by default, the ones they feel the public will be interested in.
Don’t Be Dull!
If you’re trying to sell your Christmas story, make sure you have faith in it, and in your brand. When speaking to a journalist on the phone or in person, make sure you engage them – your story won’t be chosen if it doesn’t sound like you’re even interested in it. Find an interesting angle and push it.
Samples are important! This was a big take-away point of the morning, with both Pat and David agreeing that sending samples is a great way to get media outlets on-board with your campaign. And cake – if you have cake, apparently it can help if you send that too.
Adapt Your Campaign
Make sure you adapt your Christmas campaign for different media outlets. What works for one publication or television channel may not work for another, so make sure you are tailoring your story for different audiences. Take the time and effort to customise your press releases to each individual outlet, and if you’re sending an email with your pitch, make sure you use the key words in the message field. Try to tell the story in three or four words and grab attention – otherwise it won’t be used.
Find the Right Person to Share Your Story
One point, which is important if you’re trying to get your Christmas campaign televised, is make sure you find the best person to share the story. Whilst it’s always worth getting a celebrity if you can, you need to make sure this person is likable and relatable, otherwise people will switch off.
The FMD Factor
David introduced this as the “Fxxk Me Doris Factor” – the thought processes behind why publications and TV broadcasts use details such as age and location. These details help the public empathise with the person in the story – they see it as though it could be them! This is especially important in television, as this kind of detail helps producers and reporters feel what the viewers are going to feel.
Remember Journalist Etiquette
No matter how keen you are for a journalist to pick up your Christmas campaign, don’t chase them. An editor may receive over 200 emails a day, and if you continuously email them, you may cause more harm than good. Organise a meeting, be that an evening light bite or a pint – but never during the day. The chances are they will be far too busy to leave their desks, but more often than not, they’ll be happy to meet you for a drink in the evening and listen to your pitch!
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