If you are doing your own PR then you may well be having a hard time figuring out why you are not getting a huge amount of coverage.
It’s tough getting journalists excited enough to write about you; unfortunately that wonderfully crafted product announcement or client case study you just sent out to your contacts in the media won’t immediately hit the front page, no matter how market changing you believe it to be.
Why? Firstly, it’s because understanding what a journalist wants is difficult. Secondly, there’s a chance that you aren’t communicating with the media using the right language.
Speaking to them as if they are a prospect is the quickest way to get ignored. Take a moment to imagine just how many marketing or sales people send out stories to journalists in the hope of getting covered; after all, you frequently read stories about your competitors and their life changing products, right? But look again; in the cold light of day, the press release, case study, or opinion article has probably been submitted by a PR.
The reality is that any decent journalist is not going to publish anything promotional. Ever. That’s the place for advertising and never the twain shall meet – oh, and don’t go suggesting to an editor that you will place an advert if they place your promotional copy; that’s the quickest way to offend editorial sensibilities.
It takes an in-depth understanding of the world in which the journalists operate to get the relationship right. They take delight in turning the dull and mundane into entertaining prose that will engage their readership so that they keep coming back for more. Give them a hint of sales and marketing and they’ll run for the hills, but give them an engaging piece of insight that tackles a thorny issue that their readership is struggling with and you’ll have them eating out of your hand.
You PR agency can strike that (almost) impossible balance between what you would love to see written about you and what the journalist could be convinced to write about you. It’s still “promotional”. It still features you or one of your clients. And it still talks to your market about the market, positioning you as an expert. The difference is the language used, as the copy will be written in a specific way to engage an audience on neutral ground, outlining the issue and a potential solution examining as many of the scenarios as possible to give a balanced view.
Of course there is still a place for breaking news – that announcement that will have the market in shock and awe. However, the fact that one of your clients has just placed an order is not necessarily news. The truth is that any journalist may consider a news story if it has a great brand associated with it, but they are going to be far more interested if there is an angle that dares to challenge the status quo.
In reality, even PR 101 needs a sprinkling of magic, but the good news is that the magic can be found amongst the skilled and experienced PR professionals out there. It’s not that you aren’t trying, it’s just that you might need a little help to speak the right language.
Copyright © 2015 Ashley Carr, founder of Neo PR.
Attracting quality press attention for your start up business can be an uphill struggle. Here are our top tips for gaining media coverage.
Make it personal
Each and every approach must be personalised. Let’s face it — nobody likes to be nameless. Avoid sending bulk emails with hundreds of recipients under the BCC tag. Most servers are auto-configured to junk incoming emails when the BCC is active with multiple emails.
Spend the extra time researching every recipient. Yes, it’s time consuming, but it will deliver results. Your conversion in terms of responses will definitely increase.
Target specific media
If you’re not clear about your target audience, then how can you execute an effective public relations campaign?
First of all, focus on the niche publications — these are your heavy hitters. Think of them as little gold mines, waiting to be found and crying out for your news. Who views them? A high majority are people solely interested in that specific topic. They are also used as research hubs for journalists from national newspapers.
By contrast, the national media titles tend to cover a broad range of topics and finding the most relevant point of contact is often laborious. Use the website search function to find relevant articles similar to your news and check the author profile.
Another great media opportunity is niche blogs. Land of the free speech, make sure they are floating high on your research list.
Make a list of all the journalists you want to target and consider making a smaller list of the key journalists that you would like to build relationships with. Keep them in the loop, invite them to your events, schmooze them! Focus your main efforts on this select group of journalists every time you have a story to convey.
The way that journalists get their hands on news has changed dramatically over the past decade. Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms are real-time news hubs. Stories can go viral before they are even picked up by media sources.
The days of Ivy Lee, who created the first modern press release, have all but gone. Fax machines and snail mail are still a viable delivery method but they just aren’t used that often.
So why not use this to your advantage and go old school? Fax your press release and avoid the cluttered mailbox of a journalist. Traditional mail is another good option — you can use fancy paper, a nice envelope or even send a gift.
When you're pitching to the media, make sure you have all the assets a journalist might need, ready to send off at a moments notice. But don’t send these first time — send them to those that request them.
• A photo to go with your story;
• A screenshot of your product/website in multiple formats and sizes;
• Your company logo in multiple formats and sizes;
• What makes you different that your competitors;
• Additional quotes from relevant persons;
• A document with facts/figures about your business.
Matthew Lobas is account manager at Pressat.
Securing media coverage is often at the very heart of a PR campaign. There is no doubt that it is a great way to drive awareness among new customers.
But the effort shouldn’t end with the successful publication of coverage.
Having secured it, the smart business will share it, particularly among existing customers.
Why sharing media coverage makes good business sense
Firstly, it reinforces the business’s credibility. Unlike an advert, a piece of editorial coverage has the endorsement of an independent journalist. It is trusted. Sharing it with customers can strengthen their perceptions of the business.
Secondly, it demonstrates that the business is newsworthy and professional. It inspires confidence.
It is also a great way of staying in touch with people. Updating customers with new snippets helps keep the business front of mind.
And it’s not just in sales that media coverage can play an important role.
Virtually any VIP that a business wants to impress, is likely to be influenced by positive media coverage. It could be an industry association, or a partner organisation, or new staff that the business is trying to recruit. The list goes on.
How media coverage can be shared
For sales guys, media coverage can be worth its weight in gold. Showing it to existing or warm customers is powerful stuff. It makes their pitch much, much more believable.
Likewise, putting it on the website is a must. Not only will it impress visitors, it will help keep the website’s content fresh, which search engines like.
Other areas to consider displaying it are: sales brochures, exhibition stands and office/reception areas.
Giving a little thought as to how media coverage can be fully utilised, can reap big rewards. After all, if a business has worked hard to secure media coverage, it would be foolish not to make the most of it.
Peter O’Shea is the founder of POS Communications; for a free PR consultation, visit www.poscommunications.co.uk .
More guidance on PR:
Just recently I read a question on a PR forum from a PR person asking whether it was still possible to achieve PR coverage without a big budget for wining and dining journalists. I was all set to reply until I realised that if she had worked in PR for a number of years and still thought that wining and dining was the way to achieve PR success, then maybe she shouldn’t even be in PR and especially not in the “age of austerity”.
Since I started Cerub PR in 2003, we have worked with a wide variety of clients, but in all that time, we have been working to tight budgets and have very rarely had the opportunity to take journalists out for dinner and drinks. Instead, our work is focused on what some people call the “donkey work” — coming up with story ideas, writing press releases and media alerts, telephoning journalists, responding to news stories and working on behalf of our clients. If we were to spend time taking journalists out for lunch, we’d probably get a lot less coverage for our clients.
The trouble with this attitude is that it gives the impression that PR really is all about wining and dining and maybe I’ve been doing it wrong all these years, but for me and my colleagues, it’s more about getting on with the work and achieving great coverage for our clients. To prove my point, we’ve recently had coverage for clients in The Financial Times, Sky News, CNBC, Something for The Weekend, Magic radio and Real People — all while sat in the office!
Ceri-Jane Hackling is the managing director of Cerub PR.
Like it or not, no matter what your business, you have an image. And you're selling that image of yourself, your products and your services. PR, in all its forms, takes control of your image and boosts your firm’s reputation by getting you good media coverage and publicity.
Good media coverage for a firm is worth its weight in gold - and only a Public Relations campaign can create that. Done well, good PR develops and creates the fine reputation your business and products deserve with your public and customers, and at its best, drives your sales.
PR works because the public give it more credibility than advertising. Getting the media to say a good thing about your product or service is smart marketing.
Naturally, getting good PR is notoriously difficult - but our Donut experts, including PR Agency owner Edwina Hughes, SME adviser Debbie Leven and PR supremo Sarah Walker, exclusively share their insider secrets in a range of articles, checklists and toolkits created for the site.
Packed with professional’s tips and tricks of the trade, our PR Section shows you how to write great press releases and create good media relations as well as, crucially, how to get good, free publicity for your business. Access it on April 20 to create a comprehensive PR pack for your business.