Six Reasons Not to Pitch Your News Story

heidi smith lr 2x3In a recent consultation with the CEO of a technology company, he asked an excellent question. We discussed pitching his company's story to a journalist and why now could be a good time for some coverage.

His question: Is there a reason we wouldn't want to do this?

My answer: Absolutely. Here are six reasons not to pitch your story.

1. You have something to hide. Once you invite the media to tell your story, you must be prepared for them to dig into public record, talk to associates, search the web. Good reporters want to know the background and reputation of their sources. I trust you to be clean because a trusted source referred you. By pitching you to the journalist, I am lending you credibility from the store of goodwill I have banked with him over the years. If you have skeletons that you aren't willing to explain, then we stop here, and I rethink our relationship.

2. You are at a critical juncture with a funding deal, buyout, merger or other major business event. I usually recommend that clients go silent at such a stage, just as you would be required to if you were publicly traded.

3. You are not going to be available to talk with the reporter. If you're too busy or going on extended travel, then don't invite the media to a party if you won't be home.

4. You don't want competitors to know you exist or what you are up to. If they are worth their salt, they already know, because you have a website. How much your competitors can learn from the story depends on what you are willing to tell the reporter (which means telling the world).

5. You aren't willing to tell enough of your story, for whatever reason, to make the interview newsworthy. Typically, I work with clients to examine the angles that a story could take and to emphasize the messages that fit the story line you would prefer to tell the world.

6. You don't want to answer the tough questions. You don't have to answer directly everything the journalist asks, but if you haven't had media training yet, some questions can be uncomfortable. "What are your annual gross revenues?" "Are you profitable?" There are ways to answer these that are not disingenuous or evasive. You just need to be comfortable with your answers.

If you need help telling your company's story or deciding if the time is right for publicity, we're here to help.

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