How To Get Media Attention For Your Brand With Amy Bushatz
Episode 53 on the Business Bites Podcast
The Gist Of This Episode: If you aren’t capturing the attention of media reporters -you’re missing a huge marketing piece of the puzzle! Come listen to Rachel’s chat with Amy Bushatz on pitching and securing media coverage for your brand.
RACHEL BRENKE: Hey guys welcome to this episode of the Business Bites Podcast. I am your host, Rachel Brenke and I am joined today with Amy Bushatz. I found her through the military spouse community. I absolutely love her adventures, business and personal. So Amy, welcome to the show.
AMY BUSHATZ: Thanks so much for having me.
RACHEL: Of course. Amy, you can be found everywhere, we’re talking military.com, the Spouse Buzz Blog, you’re a reporter for military.com and you’re currently living in Alaska. How’s that going?
AMY: Alaska is spectacular. You gotta learn to like all of the different versions of it.
RACHEL: You know, Amy and I were talking before we got on here. She recently went to a retreat while she’s up there, stationed with her husband and got to do some amazing things such as dog sledding. I am super jealous of that. So maybe we need to do a Business Bites retreat of all the speakers and go visit Alaska, that would be fun.
AMY: I think that’s a great idea. It’s an incredible place.
RACHEL: We’ll see, let’s see if we can get that planned. I also love the fact that Amy’s a captain of the Team Red, White, and Blue that I’m also a member of. She does that up there in Anchorage and she sits on the board of her local running club. Today, we want to share some information with you guys about reporters and how to get reporters to notice you. Many of you obviously are in business and you’re trying to grow attention marketing and part of your marketing plan may include news and reporter attention. Let’s just dig right into figuring out some of these top tips that Amy has to help you guys.
Amy, when did you become a reporter and kind of give us some background about that.
AMY: Yeah, so I became a reporter in 2003. I was going to school for communications and I had been fascinated as a teen by the access to interesting people that reporters I had encountered, had. Just the stories and the people they got to talk to and I just thought it was just really an awesome opportunity and something that I really wanted to do as well. So I moved to D.C. after college, interned and just sort of made the whole thing work. In 2008, I left my job to marry a boy, you know and moved to Washington state where eventually I did restart in journalism in 2010 covering my own community, the military. So I’ve now worked for military.com for seven and a half years, covering military families and benefits and all of that good stuff and I also get to freelance for publications covering the outdoors, I run my own website, humansoutside.com and I am working on a book project examining what will happen to you as a person, sort of from all different angles, if you spend 20 minutes outside at least a day, every day for a year.
RACHEL: I’m excited to see the end result of that. One of the things I talk a lot, this is a little bit of a detour guys. But a lot of things that I talk a lot about on the podcast is self care as an entrepreneur, so I’m really excited to see kind of what your results and the angles that you get out of that after the year is up.
AMY: Yeah, me too. Because for the book, I am essentially spending, I am doing the experiment myself, right. So it’s like super exciting to see how that’s going just for myself. It takes a lot of self reflection and also actually doing the project.
RACHEL: So I follow you on our personal Facebook pages, but is any of this public yet or do they have to wait for that?
AMY: No, absolutely, they can hit up humansoutside on Instagram where I post every single day my picture from that day of being outside whatever that looks like. Frankly, sometimes it looks like pacing in front of my kid’s school while I spend 20 minutes waiting for school to get out. I mean, it’s really sometimes, it’s that because let’s be honest, we’re all busy, right. Do you have 20 minutes outside or do you have even 20 minutes in your schedule to go outside every day? Well I would argue the answer is yes, but sometimes you’re going to find it in the 20 minutes before school pickup. There you go.
RACHEL: Well you know a little side note on that, my husband came in last night and was laughing at me because I had my phone propped up in the laundry room while I was doing laundry and I was watching trash reality TV and he’s like, “What are you doing?” I was like, “I’m multitasking, this is like the only time I get to watch TV is when I’m washing and folding clothes.” Of course now that I think about it, he’s normally the one doing the laundry so maybe that’s really what he was asking about.
AMY: Well pro tip for him, that’s what’s up.
RACHEL: I know right. For sure, for sure. All right, so let’s get back on track a little bit but I can’t wait to see the end result of that project. But as a reporter and as a business owner yourself, ’cause you’ve got a very awesome entrepreneurial experience, one of the things that attracted me to you initially, but why would a business owner, even want a reporter’s attention and before you answer that, I kind of want to clarify this a bit that I think many entrepreneurs, especially creative or online, they may not actually even be putting reporters into or news media into their marketing plan, so why would they want the attention of a reporter?
AMY: Yeah so getting a reporter to cover something that you’re doing is a great way to tell your story outside of that normal advertising channel that you might be thinking of, outside of your normal marketing and outside of that sort of self promotion. You can pay for advertising, right, but you cannot pay for the authenticity that comes from a news story.
RACHEL: So true.
AMY: Yeah, so I mean, that’s why.
RACHEL: Well you know and on top of that, I think that in this day and age where we’re in this online space, no matter what industry you’re in, if you don’t have an online presence, you’re gonna get left behind, especially if you’re in the newer infant stages. Maybe if you’re more established that you may not feel the crunch so much by having a lacking online presence, but there’s so much noise out there, that I’m finding and I still find this, how many years that I’ve been doing this, having my name next to a legitimate news source, for like the as seen in, or as seen on, on my website adds a lot of legitimacy and value and cuts through the noise just a little bit. It may not be the magic bullet, but where other people are offering maybe the same product, same services, you know, similar branding, it’s all just streaming, you want to have these little interrupters and something that’s familiar to a consumer such as a legitimate news source that they know about and recognize, can definitely draw the attention.
Amy, what are some of the best ways to get reporter’s attention to cover their businesses so they can get into this marketing path?
AMY: Yeah absolutely. So I think the most important thing here to remember is that a news story is not going to be your personal marketing tool. Okay, so like you’re giving up a little bit of control here, like you can’t shape the message as much as if you were doing your own marketing, right? So, the way to get that attention though, alright, is to do something interesting and newsworthy. News reporters are not going to be your personal advertising agency, right? But if you’re doing something that goes way out of the way to help your community, and doesn’t have an obvious, this is what I get out of it hook, local reporters are likely to be interested.
I’ll give you an example. In North Carolina, Lakesha Cole is military spouse who has a business, the Shay Swank Marketplace, okay. She’s had a bunch of different iterations of this business over time. She had the business as a different sort of format in Okinawa, Japan and she has the business now, she moved it to North Carolina. So, she’s done a really good job of getting news coverage of it, for it, right, so how? I’ll tell you the reporters who have covered it are not interested in covering her store’s sales. What they are interested in is covering that this military spouse is going way out of her way to offer this space in the community for other military spouses to sell their stuff. We’ve covered the fact that she’s gone way out of her way to make it easier for military spouses at all to have businesses by working on policies, okay. So, she’s also tied her store to the national conversation with that topic of helping military spouses have successful careers. She’s worked with Virginia senator, Tim Caine and has been in the news for that.
Well every time one of these sort of extracurricular things, it does better her hustle, but is it her hustle specifically happens, she has her store mentioned. So now you have this brand awareness that she’s gotten because of the other stuff that she’s doing.
RACHEL: You know, I love that because basically everything that Amy just said, there is a really good checklist for you guys to use when you’re going to develop a pitch or to submit an inquiry to a local news station or reporter or blog or whatever the medium is that you’re trying to get coverage by, less about being an advertising piece and more about the messaging and what you’re doing. And again like Amy just said, it wasn’t so much talking about what Lakesha was selling, it was about why she was doing it and bringing attention to other issues during the conversation, so I love that.
If you guys need to pause and go back and download this episode and listen to that, definitely, definitely do that, ’cause pitching is very difficult. I was actually talking with another business owner whose been on a past episode of this podcast before I got on here today and we were even saying as well developed as we are in our business, pitching changes so quickly. Whether you’re trying to get into media or you’re looking for sponsorships, or even just selling to consumers, it changes so quickly because of the way our platforms are changing, ’cause of the way that algorithms are working, but what Amy just outlined, is pretty foundational and I feel is a classic type of pitch that you can use going forward.
All right, so on the topic of that, what shouldn’t you do to get the attention of reporters? We kind of mentioned a little bit of self-promotion. Do you want to expand a little bit on some tips for them on that?
AMY: Yeah, so it really centers around that, right? News reporters aren’t your personal advertising agency, okay. They’re looking for good stories, not for marketing, alright. So you’re really gonna turn off a reporter if you’re doing that. And also I mentioned earlier you have this, you’re going to be letting go of some of your control over what your brand is and how it looks. Reporters, I mean, we’re very busy. News organizations are constantly downsizing their staffs, okay. The chances are that you’re dealing with the reporter who has way too much to do and not enough time to do it. If you can make your story accessible and easy to get, that’s a plus. But if you become a major pain, while trying to write the story, a reporter is likely to be like, forget it, okay, you know what, I don’t want to deal with you.
RACHEL: Yeah, but I feel like from watching you and how you work and I feel like such a stalker saying that, but we’re just in a lot of the same circles, is that I feel like you still are able to capture and this is a mark of a good reporter, you’re still able to capture the good brand and essence of what these entrepreneurs are trying to convey without it being salesy and promotional. So maybe self selecting the reporter that you’re trying to get connected to guys, instead of just picking any reporter that will take the story, ’cause that’s gonna be a more successful output in the end.
AMY: I agree with that 100% and it really depends on what you’re trying to get out there for, right? So if you have an online brand that’s sort of a national thing, right, you can be more picky. If you’re dealing with something that’s very local to where you live, you’re going to have way fewer people to choose from, right? So, some of that choice really just depends what you’re doing and what you’re trying to promote.
RACHEL: If they had to take one tip for working with reporters, what would that be?
AMY: I would say, make sure you present why whatever it is your pitching is a good story. Why it’s a value to the community or makes good news, is interesting to read, has something for the reader to take away. So steer clear of that sort of marketing mindset and focus on if you were going to read this publication, what would make you want to read your story.
RACHEL: Do you have any recommendations on, I call it pitching, I don’t necessarily know if that’s the right terminology to use when talking to or trying to solicit reporters to give reporters a story, but do you recommend a certain timeline based on someone’s specific industry. I mean as far as like a calendar timeline, ’cause I don’t really know what the turnaround time is for reporting or what the process typically is for choosing, selecting and publishing.
AMY: Sure, there’s all sorts of things that go into that, right? Are you pitching around a specific holiday? Are you pitching around a specific community event? Are you … so you’ve got to factor in that sort of broader calendar as well, right? I would say for something that is event driven, so is centered around a specific day and is for just an online publication, you could probably look no more than two weeks out. Because frankly, I’m so busy as a reporter, I mean this is from personal experience, right? I’m so busy, I don’t have time to think of this stuff that far out, right? If you’re dealing with a magazine or something hard copy that is printed, those people have way further out deadlines, we’re talking months. If you’re looking to get your story in an actual print publication that is a monthly magazine or a bi-monthly magazine, let’s say your pitching for Christmas just because that’s a seasonal thing. You’re going to want to start pitching in like September, maybe even earlier.
You really just have to look at who it is you’re dealing with, what kind of publication they are, what the calendar is like, what it is your pitching. I wish there was a better, more specific, easier answer than that, but that’s what I’ve got.
RACHEL: Well then maybe let’s take it a step back. Like that’s perfect, like the timeline that you’re talking about. It’s all figuring out what exactly you’re pitching, the time sensitivity and then of course, the platform, is it a local blog, or is it a news channel like radio, TV or printed. All of that’s going to take into some consideration. But taking it a step back from that, how do you even find reporters. That’s actually been one of my own personal struggles, is finding reporters and then also finding how to even pitch them, like what would you suggest with that?
AMY: I pitch things myself periodically, right? I’ve done some with Team RWB, I’ve done some local events that I needed to pitch, so I ask myself, what am I reading, what am I watching, right? As a consumer myself, what am I looking at? Or I ask myself, like if I could be in any publication, what’s my dream publication, right? Like where do I want to read about me? Then I sort of go from there. I use Google quite a lot. I use my network to find out does anybody know so and so. From a local level, I basically just sort of asked around through my local network. “Hey, do you have a contact at XYZ TV station?” And sort of dialed it down that way. Networking is huge for this. You would be surprised how few separation points are between you and any given publication.
RACHEL: I definitely think so with so many online groups that are available now. I just think back to when I first started in the online sphere. We didn’t even have Facebook, we didn’t have Facebook groups. It was MySpace and I don’t even think there, I don’t know if there was groups at the time, but everything was really disconnected and we’re so connected now and especially Amy and I both come from the military community and that’s even smaller, you know. It may feel huge if you’re a military spouse listening and maybe feel alone and separated, the community is so small, just reach out, put the, like what Amy was saying, ask for connections, maybe somebody knows someone. It’s incredible to see how many mutual friends that I end up having with new connections that I make, all the time. So never discount that. Just ask. I’ve had to put aside the fear of pitching and just do it.
I started with just doing text pitching by sending emails or tweets and I worked my way up to being on the phone. It still scary to put yourself out there, but like I always say in my past episodes, the ultimate rejection is you telling yourself no. Amy’s given us some really good tips so if you don’t even try to take a step out there, of course, you’re going to be rejected. You’ve already done it to yourself.
Amy, thank you so much for taking some time, I know you’re extremely busy, for helping us figure out how to get in the path of reporters, some top tips of how to pitch to them. If you guys want to find this episode, you can go to rachelbrenke.com or the businessbitespodcast.com and I’ll talk to you guys next time.
Amy is a content manager, editor and reporter for Military.com and the editor of Military.com’s SpouseBuzz blog. An amateur outdoor enthusiast and runner, Amy and her family relocated to Palmer, Alaska in 2016 as a way to lead a more outdoor-centric life. Amy writes about outdoor living and sports for a variety of publications, freelances for her local newspaper, and is working on a book about spending time outside. She is the captain of the Anchorage Team Red, White & Blue chapter and sits on the board of her local running club.
Rachel Brenke is a lawyer, author and business consultant. She is currently helping professionals all over the world initiate, strategize and implement strategic business and marketing plans through various mediums of consulting resources and legal direction.
Hi, I’m Rachel Brenke
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