Inc. Magazine editor Jane Berentson shares some priceless advice on how to get press coverage. The big ideas:
- A press release will never beat a good conversation.
- Talking to an editor, about who you really are, is how you get the story.
- Canned press releases do not work.
- Hiring an agency to send canned press releases for you is going to turn off the very people you hope will write about you.
A press release will never beat a good conversation.
Inc. receives hundreds of pitches from companies every week, and many of them are essentially the same. Their subjects are a promotion within XYZ Corp., the launch of a product or a service, an offer to talk to the CEO on matters as diverse as the economy and the CEO’s management theories. Often Inc. is referred to as “your publication,” which I suppose makes it possible to send the same letter to Forbes, Fortune, and Fast Company. What can I say? I sometimes delete these.
That’s not entirely fair, of course, because it’s more than possible that the goings-on at XYZ Corp. would be interesting and useful to the readers of Inc. (And congratulations on that promotion. Seriously.) But experience tells me that the best stories for this magazine are rarely the kinds of things revealed in pitches. Rather, they unfold in conversations about this and that and nothing in particular. Recently, for instance, I had a drink with Cal McAllister, co-founder of the quirky Seattle ad agency Wexley School for Girls. I asked about his partnership with Ian Cohen, and out came a tale ready-made for Inc.
Cal’s story (you can read it here) became part of this month’s cover package, a collection of very personal reflections and confessions about the joys, fears, insecurities, and triumphs of entrepreneurship. I trust that many readers will see themselves in these first-person accounts, because they speak to the emotional roller-coaster ride of owning a business. That ride seems to bind together all entrepreneurs, across all industries. I don’t doubt that they will speak directly to the worthies at XYZ Corp.