Think of PR and we bet 99% of you think of editorial media coverage. We’re working to change the oft-held perception that all we do is pitch in stories to journalists who find us irritating, but that’s another blog for another day!
While securing editorial media coverage used to be the bulk of our remit, today our contribution to clients is much more varied. However, there’s little doubt that seeing your name, or that of your business, in a media outlet you’ve had your eye on is a thrill and does have the ability to generate enquiries and sales.
In truth, this is probably the hardest blog to write as this isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. In days gone by, we could fax out a blanket media release to a whole heap of journalists and be confident of a few bites without any follow-up calls or special effort. Not anymore – and thank goodness for that. Crafting the right story, finding the right media outlet, and ensuring you develop a professional rapport with journalists takes skill.
We wish we could wave our PR wands and give you the magic formula for securing the perfect editorial media piece in the ideal media outlet. However, we are constantly altering the way we pitch in stories on behalf of clients to journalists – whether it’s national or regional, TV, or online. Every journalist and media outlet has its own requirements.
Of course, there are some common themes, and we’ve won national PR industry awards for our campaigns in this space with brands as diverse as Girl Guides Australia and MSD Animal Health (for Bravecto, a paralysis tick and flea treatment for dogs and cats).
So, here are our TOP 6 tips that’ll help you get more hits than misses when it comes to securing editorial media coverage.
Tip 1: Carefully dissect your story to discover its core purpose
What does that mean we hear you ask? In essence, it means you need to work out what your story is, who it is relevant to, and how you can best reach those people. If you want to attract new clientele by talking about an industry-first initiative you’re launching, and your business is reliant on in-person contact (like a retail store), then you CAN consider national media outlets but the reality is the footfall will come from the local media coverage…and a journalist from your area is more likely to cover the story. National is not always better. Trust us on that.
Tip 2: Do your research
Just like you’re flattered when someone knows who you are and about your business when they meet you, the same’s goes for journalists. Once you know your story and the best media outlet(s) to pitch it to, research who within that media outlet is most likely to cover it and take the time to see how they write, whether they use images, and if there are any other clues from past stories that may help you ensure your pitch becomes a current story. Most media outlets assign journalists to particular industries or themes, for example, the arts or sport. The bottom line is this: you expect a journalist to take the time to read your email (and bear in mind the average journalist gets over 100 pitches A DAY), then you need to take the time to get to know them and make it super easy for them to say yes to you.
Tip 3: Write a pitch that packs a punch
This is probably the hardest part as it does take time to get it right. A pitch can be a media release where the story warrants it (for example, it’s corporate in nature and is a longer story to tell), but sometimes a simple email will do the trick. In all cases, make them want to know more by presenting the most interesting information first and consider the key points a journalist will think about: what, when, where, how, and why. Try and keep the branding low key…anything too promotional is an ad and the sales team will be onto you quicker than a bee to a honeypot. Attach any images that can help explain what you’re pitching and offer a spokesperson for an interview (which could be you). If it’s TV, always explain clearly how you can help them capture “vision” – watch any TV news bulletin and you’ll see that 85% of the story is video footage, with the actual voiceover script very brief.
Tip 4: Pick your follow-up time wisely
We’d always suggest leaving at least ½ day before calling a journalist about your story. Beyond that, common sense can tell you when a specific media outlet’s deadline is. Radio news journalists are a no-go zone 10 minutes before the hour and ten minutes afterwards. TV news generally decide on the stories they’re covering the day before or by 10am that morning. Daily print newspapers will obviously have a deadline each day so getting your information to a journalist earlier in the day may be an advantage for you as you’ll be contacting them when the stress is a bit less. Monthly media outlets like magazines have long lead times and can be looking for stories to cover months in advance, so there’s no point contacting a magazine at the end of the month trying to get into the next month’s issue. Websites upload content continuously so if your story hits the mark, it could be online in hours.
Tip 5: Get personal
We will definitely cover this point in more detail in a future blog, but for now the key message is this – always remember the story may in fact be YOU. Thanks to the phenomenal growth of the online media world, there’s a high number of quality opportunities to secure editorial media coverage that focuses on the human side of a business. PR isn’t about the hard sell; it’s about building brand equity and sometimes that means a story focused don the owner or leader. After all, people buy people especially in cluttered industries (like ours!).
Tip 6: Don’t be afraid of journalists
They are people too. They have good days and bad days and there are ones who will be nicer than others. But don’t be intimidated by them if they are less than sugar and spice. If you contact them at a bad time apologise once and move on. If you have all your information at hand, know what you are talking about and are polite at all times you should be received well. Finally, always say thank you to a journalist that covers your story and stay in touch with them. Relationships are key and finding a journalist that gets you and your business is invaluable.
Get in touch
If this has whetted your appetite and you’d like to find out more about how you can harness the power of PR for your business, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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LBPR Factsheet – Top Tips For Speaking to Journalists
LBPR Factsheet – How To Write A Media Release