Jennifer Tuma-Young

The Domesticated Dad Catering Company - Co-Founder
By the Beach, NJ

    How to Respond to a PR Query and Get National Media Exposure!

    October 1, 2009

    I wanted to blog about this topic because I think so many of you ladies ARE INCREDIBLE, and deserve to be used as an expert source or have your product/service featured in a magazine. Since I am on both sides of the pitching fence (as a “Source” and as a Radio Host/Writer), I wanted to share some tips on how to get national media exposure based on your response to a query.  

    Where can you find queries? Here’s my top 3 list:

    -          Savor the Success (for Premium Members)

    -          HARO

    -          Craigslist

    By answering queries on the above listed and through years of trial and BIG error, I finally figured out ways to respond that have led to things like appearances on nationally syndicated shows, such as Rachael Ray, guest-hosting shows for Dish Network, being quoted as a source for many magazines and blogs, including Woman’s World as one of “America’s Ultimate Experts”.  I also have responded for my clients and they have been quoted as a source, or products used, etc. (no- I’m not a publicist just a firm believer that if you’re passionate about what you do, the world needs to know about it, and I believe in every single one of my clients, so I like to help them spread their word, too!!).

    And, now, on the other side of the fence, I have posted queries on HARO looking for guests for my Girls Night Out Radio Show, and each time I post I literally get HUNDREDS of responses. My radio inbox is flooded, and to be honest, unfortunately I don’t have the time to thoroughly read through all of these pitches. Imagine a reporter looking for a source for an article- they need a couple of lines, a few tips, and they get hundreds or even thousands of replies? Responses need to be formatted in a receiver-friendly way, or else they end up in the “deleted” bin.

    So, the BIG question- how does one respond to a query effectively enough to get chosen? Now, of course, every editor/producer/journalist/writer/etc. has his or her own style, and it’s impossible to know exactly what catches his/her eye in a response, right? But, I think there are a couple of things that can increase your chances of staying in their inbox so you’ll be used as a “Source”.  

    1.       Read the Query and Give Them Exactly What They Want

    Often I’ve posted a query asking for specific things, and I get an inbox flooded with generic press releases about pitches off-topic. Maybe they’ll start with one unique sentence, and then it goes right  into their generic press release. I am telling you, I know press releases can be expensive, and you want to use them, but if a query is asking for something specific, give it to them!! Nine out of ten times, a press release isn’t going to answer a specific question. 

    For example, sometimes a query says to include specific personal details, like where you are from. They may be trying to get a mix of responses from experts around the country- so, if you forget to include your city, you may be instantly deleted!!


    Tip: Copy and paste the query into your email response. This way, as you are writing your response, you can answer with exactly what the person is asking for. Make sure to proof-read and delete the pasted query before responding!


    2.       Tips Help a Ton

    When the query includes the storyline or topic, if you respond with fantastic tips on the subject, you are putting yourself way ahead of the rest!! Articles usually are short, and while pitching should involve using your personal story, a journalist really just wants to include your tips, and one-line bio that connects you to their audience. If you send them a full length novel to read about who you are before getting into what you have to offer the reader/audience, they may never get to it! I used to make this mistake all of the time, and then I learned: send them tips to help them give great “take-away” to reach/relate to their audience.


    Tip: Give them your tips! I usually include 3 solid, unique “tips” with every response. They should stand out as “tips” and be specific to the query you are responding to. So, in other words, don’t hide your tip into a paragraph or a lot of verbiage. 


    3.       Do Your Research- Google is a Girl’s Best Friend

    Know who you’re pitching, and let them know you know your stuff! It’s kind of like a job interview. Remember, this is not about flattery- it’s about “fit”. So, if you’re responding to a national media outlet, you can save the buttering up. I’m sure those guys are inundated with “I love the show” type of lead-ins!


    Make your lead-in count, so if you’re not sure of the media outlet you are responding to, take a minute to research it!! I’ve made this mistake in the past, and I’ve learned if you know the media outlet or specific writer’s style, you will be so much more effective when responding!  


    Tip: Add a statistic and research information to your response. For example, if a writer is looking for information on self-esteem, adding a quick one-liner like “According to a recent study conducted by Unilever, 4 out of 5 women are unhappy with their appearance. Here are 3 tips…” You will surely show them that you are a reliable source who knows her stuff!



    4.       Compelling Details Need to Be In the Body of the E-mail

    Don’t send attachments or links if you think that’s what’s compelling about your response. I can’t tell you how many responses I get that say, “I’d be a perfect fit for your show. Check out my website.” Or “I’ve attached my full bio and press kit.” While I love looking at websites, and I’m sure there’s great information in press kits, that’s another step that adds time. Remember, there are hundreds/thousands of responses, so instead, put compelling details directly into the body of the email. Some of these guys are reading your responses on a blackberry, so get them at “hello”!!


    Tip: Make sure you have a one or two-line bio statement that really says who you are. Make it more than “author of” or “creator of”. Include a personal detail and change it up depending on what you are responding to.


    5.       Rethink the Link

    Choose your links wisely! Often we use a link that goes to directly to our homepage, but if the homepage of our site doesn’t resonate with the specific query, what value does the link add? I find that if I use a link in the body of the email, I choose one that works specifically with the query. For example, I may link directly to my online press kit (after I’ve given a quick bio and tips), or I may link to a specific video, a specific piece of press, a specific service, a specific appearance, etc. The easier you make it, the better!


    Tip: Have a standard email signature. If you are going to reference a web link in the body of the e-mail, make sure it adds specific value, and it’s different than the one that’s in your signature.  

    I hope these tips help and you have learned from some of my mistakes, but most importantly, I want you to KNOW YOUR WORTH!! You and your authentic self are so valuable to any editor/producer/journalist/writer/host/etc. Without you, there would be no articles, segments, or stories that resonate with real women. When you’re pitching, realize the value that you add, the knowledge and passion that you bring to whatever media you are going for, and don’t ever get discouraged! Keep believing in what you have to offer the world, and I am certain you will get your message out there!

    Read Jennifer's other blog entries >

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