November 24, 2015

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Kellie O’Brien spent 16 years in print journalism in Tasmania, writing everything from hard news stories through to international celebrity features. During her career she’s led newspaper campaigns, been a magazine editor, chief of staff, chief copy sub editor and photographer. She also had a regular guest spot on commercial radio and hosted and spoke at numerous live events. Since its inception, her personal blog has grown at a rapid rate. This is thanks to numerous marketing initiatives, strong branding and a keen interest in social media. From this, Kellie helps people realise their dreams through the power of communicating their story to the world and systemisation.


The 3 major errors businesses make when pitching to media outlets

Journalists and media outlets are looking for a way to show relevance & grab the reader, so unless you are heading for 100 years in business – don’t pitch your birthday. These story hooks do not help the journalist to capture the reader. You need to make them timely, relevant, and give them a different twist to what they would normally see. Let’s face it, they are just as interested in promoting themselves as you are. A different twist to your story or story hook will give the outlet a different angle & perhaps a way to capture a wider audience in relation to your story.

Don’t pitch the Editor, pitch the relevant journalist. Editors are responsible for the oversight of the paper, or their section of the paper; & with the exception of smaller outlets they will not be looking for stories. Searching through the relevant paper will help you to find the responsible journalist. Look for the names attached to your niche.

When you get the media attention, make sure that you have a way to capture that traffic when it hits your website. Otherwise you are missing an opportunity to gather leads & more broadly market your business. Ensure that you products are easily found on your website & that there is a clear call to action on your homepage.

Should media pitches differ between print, radio, & tv?

Some coaches will recommend blanket pitching across media outlets, while this saves you time it can cost you opportunities. This scatter-gun approach means that no one agency is getting their exclusive, which they all crave. This is not to say that you shouldn’t pitch to multiple outlets, just that you need to differentiate your hook. Craft your hook to suit their audience. You will need to ensure you have three wins: a win for the journalist (a great exclusive), a win for the reader (interesting content), & a win for your business.

Is there still a place for print media?

Many print outlets will have some form of social media presence, they will also leverage these platforms to capture their audience. Your story might just be one of those stories that they promote online, giving you exposure in the print publication & on their social media profile.

Businesses also need to consider the habits of their ideal client. Do they read the paper (and which one), be it in print or online? This ideal client avatar is useful across the business profile, not just for social media marketing.

Additionally, having an article in media gives you the opportunity to add their logo to your website, growing your media cluster badge. This collection is valuable social proof when other media outlets are searching your site, but also when customers are stopping by. These badges show that you have a reputable brand or offer.

What role does social media play in promotion in media outlets researching your business

This really depends on the story, it can play a part if you are looking for credibility in your field. That said, if you have thousands of followers but no interaction on your profiles the size of your following will not help. Outlets like to know that you are current and active in your field. Additionally if you Google your business name and appear on the first page of the result for your areas of interest then media outlets are more likely to find you when they are looking for article topics.

What is the benefit to having a media pack available

Having a media page/pack helps the outlet research your business. If you are looking to be interviewed, have a list of your top 10 questions (this will save the journalist time in having to think them up). If you are running an event, include a fact sheet. Most importantly, make sure you have a 200-300 dpi jpeg image of yourself for the outlet to use in the promotion.

What are your tips for HARO and Sourcebottle?

The biggest tip is to respond quickly. While some outlets will put a lengthy timeframe for responses, it is often the first few which will gain the most interest. That said, look out for repeated questions, this means that the outlet hasn’t received quite what they are after & providing a great response will mean a grateful journalist.

When responding, ensure that you provide relevant information. While you might want to spruik a new product, unless it’s relevant to the topic you will only come across as needy and spammy. When providing contact details, ensure they are ones that you are able to respond to quickly – no point providing a work number if you are there part-time. If a journalist is unable to contact you, you will miss your opportunity & risk looking unreliable.

What is the power of sound bites?

Sound bites, or quotable quotes, are short, 10-30 sec sound (or text) bites that summarise a point. The key to these quotables is to include emotion. You can inject emotion into the quotes through smilies, metaphors, analogies, pop culture, or just good fun.

Is there a better (or worse) time of year for pitching to the media?

This really depends on your business and the media outlet. Coming into Christmas, relevant products with a novel twist can gain good exposure in the media. Coming in to the New Year, health and business planning services will stand to gain for the quieter holiday period. You have to ensure that you provide a novel twist on the season, something that which will have your service (and the story) standing out from the crowd.

Kellie has a content calendar which includes the holidays and relevant observance days. This is a helpful resources for planning your social media activities & gives you the necessary hooks for pitching to media outlets.

Here is the entire interview with Kellie O’Brien. If you would like to read more about Kellie’s services and products please go to




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