Contact Is The Name Of The Game For Media Relations

Posted on June 10, 2014. Filed under: Public Relations, Public Relations Pointers, Public relations practices | Tags: , , , |

(Caution: strongly voiced opinions ahead.)

[Blogger’s note: the idea of being “aggressive” in business seems to have gotten a bad rap of late. From a media relations standpoint, that’s too bad. An aggressive media relations program simply means setting up shop to take maximum advantage of all the potentially business-advancing news-making opportunities available to a company. It doesn’t mean charging at the media like a rabid dog. It simply means making the maximum effort to get full value from your news-generating opportunities. I could write a book on how to do this — and maybe I will — but for now, I offer up this commentary with the hope of inspiring business people to ratchet up their expectations for the payoff on their media relations efforts.]

• Media relations is all about working with the media on behalf of clients – and it’s not an easy thing to do well. But done well, the pay-off is incredible. My favorite approach to media relations is this:

• Media relations is always personal! Pick up the phone and call somebody on the news desk, get them to do your story!

o But first, make sure you’ve got your story sorted out.

o Second, be sure you’re calling – or emailing – the right person. Not as easy as it sounds.

Media Coverage Is Credible

o Prospects are always skeptical of companies’ self-generated content. Doesn’t mean it’s not valuable or interesting. But trusted unconditionally, by strangers? Not likely.

o News media coverage is always perceived as having more value by prospects, over the self-generated content that companies put out themselves.

o Many companies underplay their media relations strategies, leaving good marketing money on the table!

Don’t Wait For The Media To Call You

o Trust but verify when it comes to press release distribution services. They all promise to reach so many media outlets with your release. They do. But whether the release ever reaches the right editorial people who can act on it, that’s a different question. The only way to know for sure is to verify, by calling, emailing – doing some bread-and-butter media relations work to drive maximum news coverage. (There are ways to do this without making the rookie mistake of calling a reporter with to ask, “Did you get my release?”)

o Reporters and editors aren’t constantly monitoring the press distribution wires such as PR Newswire, BusinessWire or E-Releases for news they can use. It’s the followup contact to bring the story to their attention that works. They do look at their email, but they still miss a lot. Or they bank your story idea, thinking they’ll get back to it. They usually won’t. They’re busy, they miss items that pertain to their beat all the time. Don’t let them miss your story idea. Contact them, somehow, by phone, email, Twitter, etc. to call it to their attention. They’ll even thank you for it. Sometimes.

o Not that press release distribution services are always the right way to go. You can build your own media lists, work off of media lists supplied by trade show and conference organizers, and otherwise make your media relations efforts more meaningful. Just be sure to keep in mind – media relations is a contact sport.

Media Relations Adds Value To All Content Marketing Efforts

o The more media coverage you get, the more value you add to other aspects of your content marketing strategy. Someone intrigued by a news story on your company may visit your website, where they’ll be exposed to your blogs, social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube Channel, etc. You’ll get more readers, viewers and “likes,” higher your SEO rankings, and more buyers for your product or service.

o And if you’re advertising too – news coverage tied to the message of your advertising campaign makes your advertising dollars work harder, travel farther, win more business.

• Winning more business. That’s what media relations is all about. Use it or lose it.

Doug Hovelson, author of this brief overview of media relations, is an experienced media relations and public relations professional working out of Minneapolis. He’s helped dozens of companies – from Fortune 500 size to start-ups — grow their businesses with effective media relations programs. He’s always delighted to talk media relations strategies with people who want to see if they can do more with their media relations efforts. He can be reached at 612-722-5501 or at doughovelson AT MSN Dot COM.

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Lack Of Media Contacts No Reason To Sit On Stories

Posted on May 25, 2014. Filed under: Public Relations | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Which comes first, the story idea or the media contact relationship?

Believe it or not, I’ll take the great story idea first — if I have to choose. So should you.

I’ve worked with literally thousands of media outlets and their people — reporters, editors, program producers, photographers —  over the years. From that experience, I’ve distilled some basic facts about “working with the media” that I’d like to share.

  • It’s not necessary to be on a first-name basis with reporters before you can pitch them on a story idea. “Who do you know” at such-and-such a media outlet is one of the most common things clients and prospective clients ask. I understand why clients ask this question so routinely. They want to be successful. Having contacts is important. I don’t want to downplay the advantage that a PR person has in knowing a key reporter personally, especially at the larger, more influential media outlets. But there’s no reason to believe that you have to know reporters and editors in advance to pitch them on your story idea. Not if you’ve done your homework first, to figure out if the story you’re pitching is relevant to the type of the coverage that the outlet handles, and matches up to the specific beat of the reporter, editor or producer. If you’ve got news, and it’s of interest to the media outlet’s audience, then you’ve got reason enough to get in touch with the editorial people who handle the type of story you’re proposing.
  • Do your media relations homework. Be a student of the game. Read, watch, listen to what’s being said about your industry — and where it’s being said. Analyze stories to understand what makes them newsworthy. Put yourself in the reporter’s place — think like a journalist! Build up a file of stories similar to what you’re hoping to get for you own business (online storage services like Evernote and Microsoft’s OneNote are great for saving reference material like this).
  • Put it in writing. Most reporters will listen to your pitch, and then say something like “send me something written and I’ll taka  look at it.” Now you’ll send your press release, fact sheet, backgrounder, bio, news alert, white paper or whatever. Or maybe you’ve already sent the press release along as an attachment to an email pitch you sent to the reporter. You might have to send it again – or send more information that supports your story. Be sure to have this material prepared and ready to go in advance. You don’t watch to capture the reporter’s attention, only to lose it again because you can’t follow through with something so basic as a press release or fact sheet.
  • Concentrate on your story. Is it really newsworthy? Have you considered all the angles – are you looking at it from the journalist’s point of view?
  • I would never let not knowing the media stand between me and getting a good story placed. Neither should you. Let your story be your guide; if it’s a good one, and you’ve got the right attitude and know-how, you can be sure that the media will listen to you — even if they’re not in your pantheon of close personal friends prior to your contacting them.

Once again, I’m not saying that personal connections with the media aren’t important. They’re invaluable. All PR people of any standing have their personal media contact lists that they guard like family jewels. I’m no exception. But it’s no either/or situation. Enthusiasm for a good story can carry the day, no matter whether you’re pitching it to your best friend or to a complete stranger.

 

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