Press love “exclusives.” Utter this word on the phone or put it in the subject line of an email and you’ll get just about any writer’s attention and quickly. But it’s not always the right approach. For starters, you need to have something worthy to pitch as an exclusive. We’re not talking about a product update. We’re talking about something big and juicy – a company merger or acquisition, major customer installation or perhaps compelling data. Think you have this? Then before you get on what is sure to be a roller coaster ride, keep these five tips in mind to get the best possible outcome.

  1. The Lucky Contact – It’s important to find the right contact for your news. This might be someone who you’ve spoken with before or a new target. What’s essential is that they cover your subject (and well). Exclusives aren’t just for business press either…they can be given to tech, local or other trade press. A lot of times, this latter group can deliver just as much bang for your buck as one of the big papers.
  1. The Back Up Plan – Always identify at least three choices you’d like to make the exclusive offer to. Your first pick may say ‘no’ and you’ll want to move quickly to another option.
  1. The Deal – Writers love a good scoop. One way to secure their participation is to detail how the exclusive will work. Besides assuring the reporter that he or she will be the only one to get the story, agree to an embargo day and time that will work for both sides. Be flexible.
  1. The Exchange – It’s easy to share materials and hold a briefing, but this is the stage in which a reporter is most likely to lose interest. If the news doesn’t live up to his or her standards, he or she may tell you that they’re going to pass. It’s important not to panic if this happens. Ask questions and listen carefully. Can you meet expectations? This is always an eye-opening moment as you can expect your second and third choices to have a similar reaction.
  1. The Follow Up – Once a reporter has begun writing a story, check in and offer help. Whether it’s answering additional questions or sharing images, the more you’re around to help, the more likely your story is to get filed and quickly.

Exclusives are fun, but they take a lot of work and nurturing to get a final product. They are a great way to grow closer with press, but few go off without some sort of a hitch. So plan ahead and be prepared for unexpected twists and turns.