Gaining the media’s attention is no longer exclusive to the famous and powerful in society. Whether you are starting a small business or looking to build a personal brand, you can leverage today’s media platforms to scale your business or brand. People in the PR industry may make you feel like only they can do this, but pitching your brand story to journalists doesn’t have to be hard. I recently got a micro influencer, Lana, featured on Forbes as a newbie in the PR industry with no prior knowledge, connections or affiliation to Forbes. A micro-influencer is an influencer with a social media following of a thousand to hundred thousand.

I’ll spare you all the back and forth emails I exchanged with writers because I’m assuming you mainly want to know how you can also attract earned media for yourself without having to pay third parties. Patience is vital when dealing with journalists; they have deadlines to beat and loads of unfinished work on their desk. Since it was my first attempt, it took me almost a year. However, in those ten months, I never pitched more than five writers. The rest of the time was spent on research about the journalists’ beats and building relationship with the journalists. A beat is a journalist’s area of interest or what they have being hired to write or report about.

You  may not have control over the mood of writers at the time they see your pitch but, you can control what they see, that is the quality of your content. However, no matter how thought-provoking or inspiring my pitch was, no writer would have ever replied positively if it did not relate to what he or she writes about. Writers for the top media publications get hundreds of pitches every week, so the last thing they want is another pitch. As a micro influencer, beginning your pitch like; “Dear sir/madam, I have 10k followers on Instagram,” is a sure way for your future emails to end up in the trash folders of writers. Address them by their name and send your pitch individually instead of sending in bulk.

I also noticed that a writer whose last article for a blog or magazine is dated to 6months or a year ago has either left that particular media house or, he/she is on a break. Such writers wouldn’t come out of their break just to write about you. Bloggers or reporters who only write about their personal experiences or opinions are less likely to write a full article about you either. When finding potential journalists for Lana’s brand story, I was on the lookout for writers who write about what Lana does, and then I sent them an honest feedback on social media. Some writers are not active on social media so sending them an email will be a better option. If you can find their private email, it might be a better option than sending them an email through ABC at Huffpost dot com. I had to make sure my first three messages to each writer had no self-promotion or pitch in it. I asked questions like how I can get their new book to buy, an advice they can offer to a young entrepreneur like me and how one of their articles helped me personally.

Journalists are humans, help them to help you. Keep it brief and authentic and you will be surprised by the doors a simple line can open. The goal is not just to get published but to be able to rinse and repeat your approach while making each party feel helped.