Despite the power of social media and the ability it grants your company to tell its story and connect directly with your customers, media relations is still an important part of any strategic communications strategy. By incorporating media relations into your overarching communications plan, you can build brand awareness among your target audience and establish yourself as a thought leader in your field by securing positive coverage from trusted media outlets.
Many business owners may know the basics of media relations and will distribute an occasional press release to announce a company event, milestone, or personnel change. For established, large businesses, media may be more inclined to cover your story, but for smaller businesses, you’ll need to step up your media relations strategy to get the coverage you want. Reporters are bombarded with press releases, announcements and pitches all day every day. So, it’s going to take research, critical thinking, creativity and planning to pique their interest. Check out our tips to gain media coverage below.
Craft Your Pitch
When crafting a media pitch, consider your unique market position, your brand’s story and the value you can bring to your community or industry. To be blunt, most people probably won’t care about the services or products your company provides without understanding the aforementioned elements. Every pitch should address the “so what” that reporters and viewers are looking for. Emphasize why people should care about your story. Your pitch must resonate with a journalist before it ever gets to the public. If a journalist deems your story as unnewsworthy, it won’t ever see the light of day.
Be proactive. Don’t wait for a company milestone to begin a media relations campaign. Create a pitch list of evergreen stories and topics that will remain relevant for your company. Set up Google Alerts so you’re notified when a reporter covers a story that matches these topics. The subject matter experts within your organization can offer insights on trending industry discussions that are relevant to the services or products your company provides. If you already have your pitch ready to go, reaching out to the reporter for a follow up story will be easy and timely for both parties.
Develop a Media List Based on Research
A media list is a document that houses a list of media contacts including journalists, reporters, bloggers, influencers, and more that may be interested in covering the topics in your pitch list. You may want to have a collection of media lists based on your business’s goals. For instance, you may have one media list for local initiatives and another for industry-specific publications with contacts from across the country. You’ll want to include more than just the names and email addresses of these contacts. Make sure to note the media outlet they belong to, their location, role, social media handles and their topics of interest – or beats.
So, how do you find all of this information? Start by identifying your target audience. Consider what kind of people you want to read about your business and which websites, blogs, and publications these individuals are frequently reading. You can also use Google News or other similar tools and search for your competitors or comparable businesses to find out which publications are featuring them. The upside of this method is that it shows you the outlets and reporters that already covered a story similar to yours. This means there’s a greater chance of success since they’ve already shown interest in similar stories.
Reach Out and Relationship Build
After diligently crafting your pitch and identifying contacts who may be interested in covering your story, it’s time to send your pitch. You should always send a personalized pitch to each of your contacts; never send a mass email chain and expect success. Make sure your grammar is pristine and the message is clear and short. You want your pitch to be concise, relevant and convincing. Include important facts and a powerful call to action, and make sure to emphasize the “so what” that the reporter will be looking for. You can take it one step further and explain why the story is relevant to the reporter or their publication and why it is timely to other current events.
Example: I read your story this morning surrounding the cybersecurity threats to Madison City Schools and have an opportunity for a follow-up story you may be interested in.
In addition, providing any supporting resources that may help tell the story is a plus. This can include complementary photos (only select 1-2 to keep the email size down), a trusted source and/or individual that’s able and willing to be interviewed and any supporting video and/or b-roll that may exist.
Once you’ve crafted your email, reviewed it heavily, and deployed it to a reporter (or 10), your job is far from done. As mentioned before, journalists receive hundreds of emails each day. It’s likely they may not see your pitch or have time to read it the first time you send it. Follow-up is key, but be careful not to clog their inbox or voicemail. Also think outside the box when reaching out. Perhaps they’re really active on Twitter or Instagram; send the pitch via email then ping them on social media, just to let them know that you reached out.
The reach of your public relations initiatives is dependent on the quality of your relationships with reporters. The key to strengthening those relationships is simple – provide value to help journalists become better journalists. Reporters are on tight deadlines, so any information you provide up front will save them time and make your story easy to cover. It will also put you in their good graces for future interactions. If you prove yourself valuable, journalists will come to you for stories rather than the other way around.
Perfect the Press Release
Many businesses may not have the time or resources available to create an overarching media relations strategy. If you fall in this category and can only afford to write and distribute a press release, be sure your press release is perfect to increase your chances of gaining media coverage.
- Facts are everything to a journalist. Include as many stats, metrics, milestones, or other data as you can. Be sure to cite your sources. Your key points should be devoid of obvious opinion. If there’s an opinion or assertion made in a pitch, support your points with facts or promising observations.
- Key points from your release need to be clear and snackable. A good rule of thumb is to ensure a journalist could leave with at least four bullet points of notes from the release. Make every sentence memorable. Press releases are not the time or place for fluff.
- Journalists are trained to focus on and address the who, what, where, when, why and how of a story, so be sure to answer each of those questions in your release.
- Make visuals a priority. Including photos, videos, graphics or other visuals with your press release will score you major points with journalists who need multimedia elements to help bring their stories to life and drive engagement.
A media relations strategy can be a lot of work, but with research, creativity and planning you can make your business stand out. Plus, we’ve got your back! Feel free to reach out if you want to elevate your message to a wider audience!