In today’s media hungry world, traditional public relations methods are still viable to get news coverage for your business. Journalists still rely on tips for news and the coverage can boost brand awareness, sales, and your marketing efforts. In fact, newspaper or television news coverage can drive people to your website and social media channels, further enhancing your digital strategy.
Here are just a few ways you can help your clients get noticed by news media to improve your coverage and public relations goals:
Make Sure Your Pitch is Newsworthy
Some public relations professionals insist on pitching evergreen articles that can run as features and serve in their marketing materials for months after the content goes live. This makes sense from a budgeting perspective: when you have limited resources, a quality evergreen piece can go a long way. However, journalists aren’t always keen to run promotional features on just any business, and some PR professionals get push back when they pitch their stories.
If you want to win over journalists and get PR coverage for your client, make sure you have a newsworthy angle. A few common angles that businesses use to gain coverage include:
- Reaching an anniversary or sales milestone
- A notable employee leaving the company or retiring
- New products, services, or locations opening for customers
- The company or employees within the company winning an award
According to PR Daily, public relations professionals must put themselves in the shoes of journalists if they want to succeed. If they don’t, they risk getting ignored whenever they try to pitch a story idea.
Add Twists to Existing News Stories
You can’t control when major news stories take over national or local attention, but you can use these stories to your advantage. Reporters are often looking for unique twists on the news or additional information to add to the story. By following common news trends, you can see what people react to and respond with relevant ideas.
For example, in the Spring, hundreds of high-school students prepare for graduation and head to college or the job market. Local bakeries could get news coverage by talking about graduate-specific treats and cakes, while job-placement companies could tap into traditional PR to help graduates learn about their options with a high-school degree. Both of these companies take an existing news story (college graduation) and make it their own.
Keep Your Contact List Up To Date
The world of journalism is constantly changing. Reporters leave their jobs to work for other media outlets, they move away, or they make personal decisions to step away from the field. If you’re not constantly building your media list of names and working to keep them updated, then you could find that your public relations outreach strategies aren’t as effective as they could be.
Try to conduct reporter reviews annually and update your lists whenever you notice a reporter change. If a feature beat journalist switches to a crime beat, they’re not going to cover your business and are likely to get annoyed by your irrelevant pitches.
Monitoring your contact list can also help your public relations efforts if you use it to form better relationships with reporters. For example, if a reporter takes a break on maternity leave or gets promoted to the news desk, you can send a letter or a gift congratulating them. This adds a personal touch to your professional relationship and might help your business get coverage next time you call.
Conduct and Participate in Surveys
If you don’t have any local news, you can always create some. Setting up a survey within your industry or with your customers can help you get a feel for the pulse of your consumer base and give you newsworthy content. For example, if you’re a local craft brewery, you could send the survey to other breweries in the area and ask customers to take the poll. This will create a local source of data to learn what customers like and how they drink.
PR expert Brigitte Lyons admits that it’s not always easy for businesses to conduct surveys, especially if they’re operating on limited budgets. Instead, she recommends participating in industry surveys and offering to serve as case studies or provide quotes for context. When your brand is featured in a reputable survey, you can use that to hook reporters and talk about your company. Even if you see a survey that puts you in the minority, you can reach out to journalists and explain why your company is different from the majority of results.
Be Available for Comment and Advice
In a perfect world, your public relations efforts will start to pay off when journalists start contacting you instead of making you constantly chase them down. When a journalist is writing a story, he or she will typically reach out to experts in the field for quotes or sound bites. For example, during the summer, more people visit pools and the risk of drowning is higher. A journalist might contact local swim instructors to talk about pool safety tips. If you’re regularly available to answer their questions, then they’re likely to keep calling.
Public relations is still a thriving industry for many professionals and a useful tool for journalists. If you’re looking to enhance your PR knowledge with communication management skills and become more competitive in the job market, consider pursuing an online Master of Communication Management. Pursuing advanced education gives you the opportunity to learn top ways to get ahead in your field, and your clients and the journalists you work with will appreciate it.