Have you ever noticed a radio or TV interview or  newspaper article with your competitor’s name and wondered, “How did they get that?”

It’s all a matter of public relations and pitching stories to the news media about your company. Unless you’ve done something wrong, the media usually is not going to seek you out. You’ll have to get them to pay attention to your company and you.

There are two major times of the year that getting your name in the news is more relevant: spring and fall. The media is always looking for things that their audience is interested in. These days it is cutting costs and saving money.

Do you have something that will help their readers cut costs and save money? Absolutely. Getting their systems inspected and cleaned will do this. Your job is to get the media to tell your story.  Pitch them with a compelling reason to pay attention to what you have to say.

How do you do this? First, focus on community newspapers, local radio and television stations. Occasionally, big national news outlets may give you some press. However, if the story runs in Honolulu and you live in Atlanta, that coverage does you no good. That’s why it is much better to focus on local media outlets where you can help and benefit from their audiences.

Find the right person to receive your story idea. Sometimes you can find out who that person is online. If not, call the media outlet and find his or her name. It might be a producer, an assignment editor, news editor, community affairs coordinator or a person with another title.

If you find the right person online, many times their Web site will tell you how to submit news and stories.

The pitch

Let’s assume that you are pitching a story: “The seven ways to cut your utility bill this summer.” Remember that media personnel are time-starved, deadline-crazed and in my opinion, most of them want you to do their work for them.

Put the questions and answers in bullet form. The broadcast media know what questions to ask and what the answers are for their interviews.

Remember to put this information on your Web site, too. The media might check you out before they call.

On the upper right of your story idea, under the heading “For more information, contact” insert your name, e-mail address, daytime and cell phone numbers. Many times journalists work into the night and might need answers at 10 p.m. or later.

At the bottom of your pitch, put “30” with dashes on either side in the center of the page. You could also use three pound marks (###). This tells the journalist that there is no more information. If your questions go to more than one page put “more” in the center of the page. The press release should be no more than two pages

Now is the time to get the media’s attention. The industry has a compelling story. Let the media help you generate phone calls and business.

Copyright Ruth King. All rights reserved. Write to Ruth King, 1650 Oakbrook Drive, Suite 405, Norcross, GA 30093. Call (877) 520-4321; e-mail ruthking@hvacchannel.tv.