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Media interviewBusiness owners need to be able to sell their news to the media and the public if they want coverage. But how do you go about garnering media coverage? Simple: You have to craft a compelling pitch. Here are five ways to get ahead of the game and into the limelight.

1. Research is key. Any journalist or publicist worth their salt is a pro when it comes to research. You should be too, especially as you try to figure out who you’re going to pitch. You want to start local, and once you get some traction, go national. Read the publications and watch the shows you want to be on. Not only will this help you figure out who to pitch, but also why and what they like to cover.

2. Find something in common. You already have one thing in common, and that’s your location. Perhaps the journalist you’re pitching to likes Thai food and has an affinity for Roman philosophy. You could use these tidbits to your advantage and use them in a pitch, provided they’re relevant to your news.

3. Why should they care? In other words, what’s in it for the reporter and their audience? When pitching your story, it’s best to lead with this and tailor it to that specific journalist. This will help you catch the eye of journalists, who tend to be very busy.

4. Help them envision the story. Providing journalists with any background information or ideas on how to package a story may convince them to pick up your pitch. It’s best if you have facts and sources that can complement your story. If it’s for broadcast, provide ideas for B-roll or supplemental footage.

5. Prepare to pitch. Before finding a tie-in to a national story, start off by pitching a few key local journalists that you’ve researched and keep it simple.

Remember to target select contacts and refrain from sending mass pitches to the media. Send a follow-up or two (let a few weeks pass in between) and try to include new info or sources that you think will help flesh out the story. If you still don’t hear back, it’s time to move on and re-strategize. If you do hear back, be sure to respond in a timely manner.

Follow these tips, and you’ll start to see your work in the headlines.

Humbert Luna is an account manager and media strategist at Emerging Insider Communications, a public relations and communications agency specializing in emerging tech in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @hlunapr.