How to Get a Reporter Interested in Coaching
You’ve identified the right journalists to offer your expertise as a professional coach. Now what? It’s time to introduce yourself by reaching out with an email and phone call.
You might have the greatest email in the world, filled with inspirational case studies or the latest research, but that only matters if you can grab the reporter’s attention long enough to digest it all. The inboxes of reporters and editors are filled with all sorts of pitches, many of which are written by people who are sending these messages out en masse.
So, how can you get noticed by a reporter and make a real connection? Here are three words of advice that will help you stand out from the crowd: Make. It. Personal.
During my time as a TV news reporter in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, I would have loved to have received fan mail from PR professionals:
“Hey Adam – great live shot from the snowstorm. Stay warm!”
“Hey Adam – I loved your story about the West Baltimore preacher who camped out on the roof of his church to increase voter turnout in his neighborhood.”
“Adam – I can tell you have a passion for including lots of natural sound in your stories. Keep up the great work.”
But the reality was an inbox clogged with coverage requests from publicists in New York and Los Angeles trying to book their clients on the morning show. I was clearly just another name on a long mail merge list.
Part of doing your research on the appropriate journalists is reading, viewing or listening to some of their latest work. Not only will it let you know if they are the right contact, it will also be an indicator that you’ve done your due diligence and taken the time to get familiar with their work.
It can be as simple as this:
I noticed you sometimes cover topics related to coaching and wanted to offer myself as a resource for future workplace-related stories.”
As for your subject line, you can go one of two ways. Being straightforward and direct (Pitch: Credentialed Professional Coach as Source) will give the reporter a summary of your intentions.
On the other hand, a great way to stand out from the dozens of other emails is a unique subject line to grab the reporter’s attention. Reading a reporter’s recent coverage or monitoring their social media activity can help with this.
I once pitched a reporter about an upcoming press conference. My subject line, #FrenchPressFridays, was based on the journalist’s recent Twitter post about her weekly coffee ritual. The reporter responded with interest in covering the story and thanked me for the best pitch she’s ever received.
The Power of the Follow-Up
Have you ever been in the middle of an important task when your inbox dings with a message from a friend or colleague? Often, you’ll make a mental note to respond later. Now take that scenario and multiply it by 100. That’s what it’s like for a reporter juggling multiple stories as their inbox grows with dozens of people jockeying for their attention in the hopes that they’ll cover their cause. Even the best pitches might not get an immediate response from reporters who are on deadline. Usually, the message will get buried under an avalanche of other emails in a matter of hours.
If you don’t hear back from a journalist on your offer to be a coaching source, it either means they’re not interested or the reporter mentally flagged it for a response when they’re not as busy. Sending a quick follow-up message a few days later is a great way to jog the reporter’s memory about your previous offer.
You also don’t have to write a novel-length follow-up email. Your message can be as simple as: “Hi <reporter>, circling back to my note from a few days ago (below) about being a new coaching source for future lifestyle/workplace stories.”
If you still don’t hear back, contacting a reporter by phone—and always making sure to ask if they’re on deadline or have a few minutes to chat—is a strategic way to gauge their interest.
Catch a Reporter’s Attention
Reporters can easily tell when a pitch was sent to just them or to hundreds of other journalists. Making your email personal and then following up will greatly increase your chances of hearing back from the reporter, who may even be interested in using you as a source.
I just listened to the Webinar on Public Relations. As VP Communications for ICF Phoenix, I definitely could use some help. In the email with the slides you indicated there is a form for contacting the team. I am unable to locate it. Could you guide me?
I was struck by the fact that we have our annual Coaching Educational Retreat in October. Everyone wants a press release. Speaking with those who have been in the PR business and exploring the targeted audience of the Arizona Republic, I’m not sure this is the organization with whom we want to promote the event. My Ahha was that we need a more thoughtful strategy. If in fact our goal is to partner with our businesses and communities in organizations, wouldn’t it be nice if we could encourage them to attend. How about promoting it with local colleges and universities that have coaching curriculums? We have also organized a Talent Collaborative with AZODN (org development) SHRM, ATD, etc. that needs to be leveraged. Also, guidance on how to guide the leadership team on the differences between Communication, Marketing and Promotion Or PR
Secondly, loved the piece about “the story” and think that will be as important in the coming months. Want to begin getting those out there for next year in more meaningful ways.
Thanks for letting me go on. If it isn’t you. Would appreciate being directed to the proper contact and help in finding that Form.
Thank you for your comment, Linda! As a Chapter Leader, you should be able to access the form by logging into https://coachingfederation.org/profile and selecting Chapter Leader Resources in the navigation. If you scroll to the very bottom of the Chapter Leader Resources page, you’ll see a teal bar that says “ICF PR Assistance Request Form.” Click the bar to open up that menu item, and follow the button to complete the form itself.
Please feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any additional questions or concerns.
ICF Communications and Awards Manager
Great advice – thanks 🙂
Could use some of the insights to create awareness about coaching in India since it’s still taking off, thanks for the article