We caught up with Pat Schutte from High Profile PR to learn tips for athletes looking to improve their media exposure. We learned a lot about self-marketing and promoting sponsors.
Getting your name and photo published (for doing something well), whether it’s in a local newspaper or a major magazine is an added bonus in your quest to gain and keep sponsors. Internet exposure (the positive kind) is also important. Media exposure is precisely what sponsors look for because it proves that you’re getting your name and your sponsors’ names out there. Finishing on the podium might result in some exposure, but exerting a little extra effort will guarantee you the amount and type of coverage you desire.
When contacting members of the media directly follow these guidelines:
1. Be polite, but speak up and act confidently.
2. Have all of your information in front of you in case a reporter decides to interview you right there on the spot. Remember: Who, what, when, where and why? Have answers for all of those questions. Also have a headshot and a high quality photo that they can run with the story – so they don’t have to send a photographer if they don’t need to.
3. A resume of your racing career is very helpful for a reporter.
4. It helps to know who you’re asking for when calling the media outlet. When calling a newspaper, ask for the Sports Desk. For radio, ask for the Program Director. For television, ask for the Assignment Desk.
5. More often than not, when you call a media outlet, you’ll reach someone on deadline. Ask them when you should call back. Usually sports reporters and editors don’t roll in to work until the afternoon, and then work later into the evening. It’s best to reach them right when they come in, as they’re checking email and faxes and should have the time to speak with you.
6. When pitching your story, stress the “local angle” of this “national” story.
7. Be persistent. If you feel you’re not getting a fair shake from one reporter, call back and ask for the editor. Research the paper ahead of time, see which reporter covers your sport, and ask for him/her by name.
8. Be flexible with your schedule. Ask what the best time is best for them. Offer to come to the newspaper office or radio/television studio.
9. The Paperboy.com (www.thepaperboy.com) is a good reference site for newspapers and editorial contacts in your area. For television and radio resources, go to Gebbie Press (www.gebbieinc.com).
10. Wait to plug your sponsors until the very end of the interview.
Good luck. Be cool. And don’t take “No” for an answer.
Pat Schutte’s company, High Profile PR works with many action sports industry companies, athletes and organizations to help them tell their story to the world.
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