I’ve been asked on a number of occasions how best to reply to Sourcebottle media call outs. For those of you in the US and UK, it’s Help A Reporter Out. There are others, but these ones are widely known.
If you don’t know what these are, they’re call out services for journalists and bloggers to find talent for stories. They’re a great way for you to connect with journalists or get on their radar, regardless of whether you get picked up. It’s also ideal when news is slow.
While once it was easy to pick up some media coverage from call out services due to being relatively unknown, things have evolved significantly now and it’s not nearly as easy.
Some journalists are now receiving large volumes of responses to their call outs, so you need to be clever about how you respond when doing public relations for your business, book or event.
Here are my 5 steps to call out success:
Step 1: Be selective with which call outs you respond to
All that takes is just Googling the publication (if they give it to you). You need to be aware of the publication’s reach, because you will find some publications are brand new with zero reach and others are established with 500,000 readers/listeners/viewers. So you need to balance the time you put in versus your return on investment.
Step 2: Be one of the first to respond
The Sourcebottle callouts in Australia go out at 10am and 2.30pm (HARO is three times a day), so watch your inbox at those times. Nowadays, some call outs can receive a LOT of responses, so the journalist won’t read them all. Sometimes they’ll take the best from the first handful, which is why you need to be among the first.
Step 3: Provide the correct contact details
Make sure the contact information you give is a number or email they’ll be able to get you on at any time. For example, if you give your home number and you’re out when they call, they’ll just move onto the next person and you miss out. So always give a mobile and email and make sure your mobile is charged! If you work during the day, let them know you’re only available between these set times. Journalists prefer that than you not answering.
Step 4: Clear and concise responses.
Keep your responses clear and concise, stick to the topic and tell them why you’re perfect talent for their story.
Step 5: Show your personality.
The thing the journalist is looking for is someone either colourful, has a unique or human interest story or who has a strong opinion, so you need to show that in your call out response. If they get 50 responses and 48 of them are vanilla and say the same thing and two of them are unique or will get people talking or fired up, then they’ll go with the latter. As a journalist, their No. 1 goal is to have better stories than their competition to attract more viewers/readers/listeners!
This week’s action to take is to respond to a media callout on Sourcebottle, HARO or any other callout services you’re subscribed to.
If you’re inspired now to tackle your first media callout but are a little unsure exactly what on earth you write, then you can download a free copy of a script template I only usually give paying clients.
This script will help you get your message across clearly and concisely and in a way that will make journalists want to say “YES’’ to your pitch.