Getting your news placed in the local paper, favorite trade magazine or on a national news site can be quite perplexing, especially as there are a flood of businesses running in the same race as you. So where do you begin? How do you position yourself in front of the media and, ultimately, ensure that journalists pick your story above everyone else’s?
As PR pros, we’re able to see both sides of the coin and we have some insider intelligence we’d like to share with you.
Image courtesy of International Business Times
Every media outlet has its respective target audience. For example, a magazine for entrepreneurs, like Entrepreneur, targets business-oriented professionals and entrepreneurs, where as a technology focused outlet like TechCrunch, which is dedicated to profiling startups, reviewing tech products and breaking tech news, is mainly targeting tech connoisseurs. A national news publication like USA Today caters to the masses, with individual sections for specific news like life, sports, money, tech, etc. catering to those respective topics. To capitalize on your efforts to secure media coverage, target outlets that align with the message of your business. You should take extra time to research media outlets before making your selection. A word to the wise: don’t neglect the smaller, trade media outlets because they may do a better job of reaching your target audience then national publications.
What’s your story?
Only reach out to media when you have something that’s actually newsworthy. Think business news (new hires, big wins, new office, etc.), big picture trends, current events and advocacy topics. Weaving in national and industry relevant events or news when you can will help garner the interest of reporters and serve as a “hook” for your news.
Get your press kit in shape.
A press kit is portfolio of information provided to members of the press to brief them of either a product, news, service or member of the company. It’s essentially a one-stop-shop for reporters interested in writing about you or your business. The following is a list of all the possible materials you might use for your media placement:
- Company fact sheet: the purpose of a fact sheet is to highlight key information about your business so that someone who has never heard of you before will understand what your operation is all about.
- Bios: executive biographies serve as a way to talk about your company’s founders, CEO, investors and stakeholders.
- Contact information: although this sounds like a no-brainer, many people often overlook including a section sharing the contact information for the media. You should list phone numbers and/or e-mail addresses for your company spokesperson, public relations person or agency who handles media requests.
- Talking points: at the very least, you need a few talking points. These are clear, concise messages that you want to communicate to the media. Ideally, these points should convey your brand, your mission, your story, etc. Your key PR messages provide support when you are pitching or interviewing. This document is intended for internal use only.
- Media alerts: also known as an “invitation to cover,” is aimed to attracting the interest of the media to cover an event. Its main purpose, as suggested by the name, is to alert the media about upcoming news.
- Press release: A press release is a short, compelling news story with the goal of piquing interest of a reporter. When writing a press release, remember to consider the who, what, when, where, why and how of your story.
A pitch is your tool for sharing your business’ news with reporters. It needs to be eye-catching, relevant, short and sweet. Reporters are busy people, often bombarded with hundreds of pitches on any given day so keeping yours to the point will help reporters determine whether or not they want to cover your news. An insider tip: the subject line is the most important part as it determines whether or not the reporter will actually open your email! For more on pitching with success, read our blog post: “Creating the Perfect Public Relations Pitch.”
Following up with reporters can be half the battle. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t receive a note back immediately, reporters are often too busy for that. Sending a brief follow up note or picking up the phone to call can help remind the media about your news. Following up can also give you the opportunity to pick their brain on other topics they may be covering where you can offer value.
Foster your relationships.
At the end of the day, one of the single, most important thing you can do after working with the media is maintain contact with that reporter. Public relations and media relations are all about relationships. Taking the time to reach out to reporters that you’ve worked with to say thank you for the opportunity, or let them know how great you think the article turned out, can make all the difference when it comes to securing future coverage.
Securing media coverage of your business is not an easy task. It takes time and requires a lot of effort. Remember, media relations is all about fostering relationships. If you want to stay in the public eye, focus on growing and maintaining those relationships. Furthermore, never forget that public relations is just one prong of a successful and integrated marketing strategy. You likely won’t see success in your PR efforts without implementing social media, inbound marketing and other digital marketing strategies.