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How to get free press: a guide to pitching journalists for care companies

As a PR or marketing manager, your company’s success relies on you to shout from the hilltops, leaving a positive impression on as many potential customers as possible. You can follow the route of traditional paid advertising; however, you should also test the free option of pitching journalists too – we might just publish it for all the world to read. By Sam Lewis, editor Caring Times.

Being free, this route is competitive, and journalists only have so many stories they can write, so make sure yours is not one that gets left behind, doomed to rot in some journalist’s inbox until the end of time. So, how do you achieve that?

Sam Lewis

Timing is key

When you send your pitch is crucial. Don’t send a story on Friday afternoon, for example, because most journalists won’t read it until after the weekend, and by then it is buried beneath dozens more. Instead, wait until Monday morning, when the recipient is looking for content.

Additionally, identify when the publication tends to put news online – it could be every morning, or it could be only on certain days. Send pitches in the hours before stories usually appear on the site, and voilà, yours is top of the list every time.

Any press is good press

Don’t shy away from the tough topics. Sending a quote from your CEO on a major, recent event in the media – new legislation, a scandal, responding to something a politician has said – might not always be the happiest news, but will make a journalist sit up and pay attention far more than another press release about llamas visiting a care home, as wholesome as it may be.

You can even create news yourself. Send an open letter to the PM demanding a change you’d like to see on a sector hot topic like overseas recruitment. You might not get a response from No 10, but write up a press release quoting your open letter and journalists will take notice.

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Make it easy

While getting a story in local, trade or national press can feel like free advertising, there is actually a trade of sorts happening. In sending a good press release, you are making the journalist’s life a lot easier – here is a story or interview that they do not have to go looking for. To that end, make the process as easy as possible for them: write clean, error-free copy; include high-resolution imagery and quotes with every press release; write in a journalistic style.

Talk to journalists

Of course, if your research isn’t paying off, try politely asking why they aren’t publishing your stories. Maybe the subject matter isn’t right for the publication. It could even be that the journalist has not been receiving your emails thanks to an overzealous firewall. Even if the journalist does not ultimately want your news, they likely know someone who does. It can’t hurt to ask.

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