Sunday, October 23, 2005

How to pitch, part 3

So what’s the problem with targeting all the media? Well, first of all, do you have time to do all those interviews? They do take time if you want to do them properly and you're going to be busy with lots of stuff. You can do them over the e-mail or phone, but that’s if you’re in a pinch. I mean, I like e-mail interviews when I’m rush – I don’t have to transcribe notes. But nothing beats a face to face. So if you can, always try to do it that way. Better chemistry between the interviewer and interviewee (which is important) and you can get a better feel of where ther reporter is going with the story.

Secondly, odds are seeing your face plastered all over the place in other media is going to piss off other writers and, more importantly, their editors. Reporters and editors have elephantine memories. If you want to remain friends with them and keep getting publicity years in the future, it’s helpful to remain on their good side.

Still, it only makes sense you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Why only do an interview with The Telegram? The story could get spiked or cut to a fraction of its intended size. A promised 1500 word feature on the genius of your book might get cut to 300 words because space is tight that day.

So spreading it out – good idea.

But never tell the reporter that.

The fastest way for me to brush you off is to tell me you want the story to come out on a certain day because you’re going to be on NTV or Out of the Fog the day before, and it would be a nice tie-in.

(I’ve had this happen to me more times than I can count.)

I’m in competition with NTV and every other media outlet in the city. I’m not going to help them coordinate your big launch. I want to scoop them. I want my story out first so it looks like they’re copying from me, not the other way around. Remember, egos are in play. I want my story out so that I can show my editor all the other entertainment people copying what I did already because I look good that way. I’m ahead of the game.

So if you tell me this, no story. Just on principle, even if I like the story and I like you, I won’t do it. Because it pisses me off that I’m off secondary importance next to NTV. Petty? Sure. Deal with it.

So lie, tell them they’re the first ones you’ve called. If your story runs 3-4 times in different media, well, they called afterwards expressing an interest and you couldn’t say no and they must have just beaten me to the punch in getting it out. If it shows up in 10 different places before me, I will remember this for the next time.

Your best bet? Two papers, CBC Radio and maybe one of the TV shows. That gets you good coverage across the spectrum, but not so much that people are tired of seeing you.

I will also highly recommend The Express. Biased, yes. But it does have one of the few dedicated arts sections in the province. It covers a diverse number of arts and is also part of a chain. So if you’re from Gander or Buchans, mention that to the reporter. They’ll make a note and send it off to the community paper in that area so if they want it, they can pick it up. So you get coverage outside of St. John’s as well.

By they way, even if you don’t get a story, always send out a psa about your event. So even if you don’t get the story, word is still out there about your event. Be concise, about 25 words should do, e-mail it (call and figure out the best person to e-mail it to) and send a jpeg attachment of an image. Generally no bigger than 400 kb. Bigger than that and it slows down the e-mail, which is annoying. Smaller than 200 kb and it might not be good enough quality to run in the paper.

There’s no guarantee it will run, but hey, it might. And it’s always a good idea to have an image of yourself available at the paper. For example, with The Express, we liked to have pictures for the Now Showing section. So if we have a pic of you rocking out and you’re playing at a bar that week, we’ll run it. And pictures are very important in newspapers. People pay attention to photos. They catch the eye.

They also kill space nicely, which editors like also.

Next up - press kits.

1 comment:

Sure b'y said...

Thanks, Craig for the first comment on my blog. I just think this pitch series is a great service to all artists. I've passed it on to a number of people. Bravo.