All sorts of organisations want to boost their media profile for all sorts of different reasons. Getting some great coverage can drive sales, attract the right partners, entice new recruits, make your employees feel really proud.
There are plenty of benefits so how do you go about generating the results you want?
Everything in communications comes back to your target audience. Before you do anything you have to decide who you want to ‘talk’ with, what they’re interested in and what you’ve got to say that could catch their attention.
Where is your target audience. Which outlets do they watch, listen to or read. Which social media platforms do they use? And which of these are they going to engage with when their mind is open to what you have to offer.
There is no point getting onto your regional news programme if your targets don’t watch it. Getting into FT might feel like you’ve made the big time but if you’re trying to sell business advice to SMEs in one locality then you’ve probably put a lot of effort in to reach a whole bunch of people who can’t access what you have to offer!
When I started in a tech PR firm in London a couple of decades ago we were tested on every publication relevant to our clients. We had to know the publication date, deadlines, circulation, readership, typical content, journalists (including their biogs and contact details) – and all by heart!
We had to know which journalist to go to with each story and how to pitch it.
The key point was ‘know your media’! And it’s still true today.
Be absolutely clear about why you’re trying to generate the coverage. What do you want people who see it to take away? What do you want them to do? Then you can work out what to say.
Remember, people are interested in people so make sure your story has a good dose of real life and human interest.
Adapt it to the outlet you’re targeting. Lead with the bit most likely to capture the journalist’s attention – which might not be the part you most want to shout about.
Finally, if you’re sending it via email come up with a great subject line. Keep it short, catchy and relevant.
At the heart is the press release. But don’t think of the words you write as a press release. Press releases are promotional, salesy, often dull. Think of it as a news story; you’ll be more likely to write compelling copy.
But don’t stop there. Great pictures grab the attention, whether or not the outlet you’re targeting can use them. If you’re targeting a broadcaster they’ll need someone good to interview and if you’re pitching to an online platform they’ll want lots of links and might love a video. Be a little lateral and creative!
Plenty of journalists say don’t call them. If they’re interested in the story they’ll respond. But the truth is they get lots of emails every day and a fair number get missed. So give them a quick call. It’s not uncommon for there to be a stoney silence after an email but, a quick call, and the story gets picked up!
Be prepared for them to be a little curt. Get to the point and don’t waste their time and there won’t be too much of this but they’re under pressure and don’t have the time or inclination for a chat.
If you get good results, great. Think about why and do the same again next time. If you didn’t, try and find out why. Feedback straight from the journalist is great but if you can’t get that take an honest look at your story and the ones typically published, then work out the difference.