by Edward M. Yang
While the goal of public relations is always to get
press coverage for your company, your products or
your executives, there’s always been this mystique
about the “exclusive”.
Truth be told, most stories simply aren’t interesting
enough to be considered for “exclusive”.
Remember, the first rule of PR is that you need
to put yourself in the shoes of the reporter or
Is your breaking story really interesting enough that
an editor would consider it for an exclusive?
Be honest here!
The job of any PR firm worth their salt is to help
come up with news stories that would indeed be
But when a story does get exclusive coverage in
a major outlet, watch out! That grand slam could
lead to a whole lotta positive coverage.
In a recent example, Firecracker was able to land
one of our clients an exclusive story on Techcrunch.
The beauty of this is that, besides the high number
of readers that Techcrunch has, many other sites
also just pull stories off Techcrunch for their own use.
The end result was massive downloads for their new
iPhone app within the first week, wildly successful
beyond our initial plans.
So how can you too benefit from a potential exclusive?
Here are a few steps:
1. Make sure you indeed have something newsworthy.
As I said, just because you think it’s interesting
doesn’t mean the editor will.
2. Get familiar with the target outlets. Read the
stories to get a feel for their coverage area. Note
their tone of voice, how technical they are, etc.
3. Start building a media contact list. Find the writers
of stories that are related to your field. Also start
researching their contact info. Many news sites will
have them under About Us or Contact Us, often in
another sub-page called Editorial Contacts or
If they don’t and just have a generic email address
or form, it’s time to do some research.
Google their name + “email” and see what comes up.
Look for them on LinkedIn. If you don’t, upgrade
to the paid Premium account on LinkedIn. This
will enable you to send what’s called “InMail” to
people. You can then send them the pitch through
Or find out what their Twitter handle is, and directly
tweet them. Or try Facebook or Google +.
Essentially in this day and age it should be possible
to find a way to contact any journalist.
4. Sharpen your pitch. Your pitch will make or break
your chances. Pay particular attention to the subject
line which accounts for the vast majority of opens.
Try using their first name in the subject line like:
“Courtney, an exclusive story pitch on new social
From there, make a comment about something
that you found in your research. It could be about
an article they wrote, or where they live, or their
background. It shows them you took the time to
research and you’re not just cutting and pasting a
Tell them why this story would be of interest to
their readers. Why should they care?
Then Always Be Closing (ABC). Ask if they’d like
the story as an exclusive, and if so, to let you know
by so and so a date. Promise that you will not
release the story for two days after they run it.
This gives them the reassurance that they will
be putting something out that no one else will
have, a rarity in this day and age of saturated
5. Work your way down. Start your pitch for
the exclusive story from the outlet you most
want coverage in.
From there, work your way down to the smaller
or less desired outlets.
Follow up a couple of times and give them a few
days each to respond.
6. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. This is
a good rule of thumb for PR in general. If you
break your promise to a journalist, kiss any
future story goodbye.
If you promise only they will get the story,
hold to your promise.
7. Ride the wave. Once the exclusive story
hits, and the promised time has elapsed, you
can ride that wave of coverage to get you
In PR, press begets press. Other journalists
note what is being covered, and they won’t
want to be left out of a big story either. So
getting an exclusive should help you get more
8. Promote it! Post it on your social media
accounts, post it to your News section of the
website, forward it to your sales team for use.
With just a little planning and work, you can
turn a story idea into a lot of press coverage
by mastering the art of the exclusive!