7 reasons the media want your helpful, how-to tips lists

Comment at The Publicity Hound blog from Debbie Williams, who is explaining how tips lists have helped her get more free publicity

Need publicity but can’t think of any newsworthy stories about your business to offer to journalists?

Frustrated because the story ideas you ARE pitching seem to have fallen into a big black hole?

If so, turn to the simple tips list, which should be a staple in your publicity campaign and which can get you major publicity in national media outlets. A tips list, usually no more than a page,  is a list of helpful tips on how to solve a problem or do something. You can write them quickly and the media love them. Here’s why:

1. You’re being helpful by doing their work for them.

One of the tasks of a reporter or blogger is to make life easier for their readers and explain how they can solve problems related to a certain topic. Journalists and bloggers often research their own tips lists. But if you’re offering tips on a topic they don’t have to research, you’re viewed as more credible and very helpful.

Professional organizer Debbie Williams explains in the screenshot above how tips lists have helped her get more publicity.   

2. The announce to journalists that you’re an expert in the topic, which can lead to a larger story. 

Let’s say you’re an expert on how small businesses can use technology. If a reporter covers small business and sees your tips list on how small business owners can stretch their dollar when buying tech gadgets, don’t be surprised if you get a phone call asking for an interview.
 
3. They can be used as filler because they fit nicely into small holes on a page.
 
Many editors of consumer magazines rely on tips lists as filler. When they’re on deadline, and they have a five-inch hold to fill on a page, they don’t have time to hunt for content. Your tips list might be the perfect length for that hole. 
 
4.  They can be used as a sidebar to a bigger story.
 
That small tips list is a handy tool that you can offer to journalists and bloggers once they’ve expressed an interest in covering your story.

Or use it as an enticing “extra” when you pitch.

Or, if you pitch a story idea and you hear nothing from the journalist, follow up by emailing and offer the tips list. This is a smart way of following up without asking, “I’m just checking to see if you got my story idea on tech gadgets and if you’re interested in covering it?” 

Instead, you’d email and say something like, “I just wanted to let you know that the story I suggested on tech gadgets has an accompanying tips list of the five best retail outlets where business owners can find refurbished tech gadgets.”
 
5. People love quick tips that help them solve a problem. 
Admit it. When you see a headline that says “9 ways your child is testing you and why you shouldn’t fall for any of them,” you often click on the link and read, even if you don’t have kids! If you do have kids, you know that simple list might include the answer to your son’s behavior problem.

And there’s something very enticing about numerals in headlines. 

6. They can accompany broadcast stories.
 
TV broadcasters love tips lists as much as print journalists. That’s because they can show them on the screen while they’re reporting on the story. 
 
7. They need very little editing.
 
If the list includes nine tips for saving money on tech gadgets, and there’s room for only five tips, editors might whittle your list and use seven tips instead of nine. But that’s OK because you’ll still get the publicity.
 

How to Write Tips Lists

Knowing exactly how to write a tips list is key. Write it too long, and journalists might not have time to read it. Forget to include the critical information in your author resource box and you could blow your chances of getting people to your website! 
 
During the webinar I hosted a few weeks ago on “17 Ways to Use a Tips List to Make It More Powerful than Ever,” I explained exactly how to write it and showed you three sample tips lists. The big bonus package includes three cheat sheets that you’ll find very helpful when writing your next tips list:
 
  • The 6 important parts of your author resource box.
  • 7 helpful things you need to remember when sending lists to media outlets so you don’t make a mistake. 
  • The 5 critical elements of your tips list.
You can see what else I teach you about how to write a tips list.

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