Without the knowledge, skills and experience, pitching to the media can be tough. There isn’t a day that goes by that reporters aren’t inundated with breaking news from different sources, all clamouring for a spot in the headlines. That’s why it’s important to know exactly what they’re looking for, so you can cut through the noise and win that highly coveted media attention.
As a media-award-winning PR consultancy, with 25 years of experience working closely with the local and regional press, we have a wealth of experience tailoring press releases and features that get you and your causes noticed with positive media coverage.
To stand out in the information saturated newsrooms, we’ve put together our top 10 tips to help you increase the likelihood of getting in the press.
In order to successfully roll out a press campaign that generates the media coverage you’re looking for, you first must have something newsworthy to say. This starts with identifying a hook that will act as the anchor for developing effective media events and messages. A “hook” also known as a unique selling point (USP) is the critical piece of information that will capture the attention and interest of both the media and their audiences – and most importantly make them want to learn more.
Most of the best press opportunities arise naturally, and don’t need to be fabricated out of nothing. For example, a milestone anniversary, move to a new office, expansion or merger, senior appointment or product launch are all great PR opportunities that would appeal to a wide audience and is therefore be newsworthy.
As we’ve already mentioned, journalists get more pitches a day then they could ever possibly cover, so to have a higher probability of getting cut through, it’s important to put your point across quickly and concisely. This is both true of communicating your pitch verbally over the phone or written in an email. Condense your story into a few short lines which encapsulates what your story is about and why people should care about it, and make sure it includes your USPs.
This brings me to my next point, sending a blanket email out to every media outlet you can think of hoping that it will stick, in most cases make it less likely to go anywhere. To increase success rate of gaining media coverage, do some research around their individual target audiences and the types of stories they tend to publish, then tailor your pitch to suit. Better yet, pick up the phone and establish interest in the first instance so they are looking out for your email when you send it.
Long gone are the days of reporters going out chasing their next big story, most are desk bound and rely on trusted sources to provide them with information. For newspapers it’s all about packaging your story with key details and facts, testimonials and great photography – a good image can make or break your chances of coverage. Photos should relate to the storyline and not be over complicated. If you’re submitting a press release, ask the editor if they have a preferred wordcount and how many images they would like to accompany it. Not only does this make their job easier, it also makes it more likely that it will get printed, and if your press release is really good, they will often cut and paste!
It’s also important to consider the genre of media outlet you are approaching so you can be prepared with the different elements of the story that will suit their needs. For example, if you want to get your story on TV, broadcasters will need strong visually engaging content that has a variety of elements and will appeal to a wide audience. So, make sure you can provide an appealing backdrop for them to film in and most importantly have key people related to your story in different aspects lined up to be involved in interviews.
If an editor has expressed interest in a story and they have given a deadline for you to get it in by, don’t let them down. Not only does this come across as unprofessional it can also cause undue stress for the editor that has saved space for you that then needs to scrabble around finding something else to fill it if you don’t come through. Inevitably, you will not be presented with this opportunity again and will risk your chances of getting anything published again for quite some time.
This one takes more time but is so worth it. If you are able to get a direct contact for an editor or reporter, make the effort to get in touch and build up a rapport. Find out what their remit is and offer them great press stories or articles that fit within that and they’ll soon start to see you as a useful and reliable source and look out for your emails and go out of their way to answer your calls. They may even occasionally approach you if they need content or comment on a piece if they think that you can be helpful.
If you’ve spent the time building up a rapport make the effort to stay on their radar. Follow them on social media and like their stuff, invite them to lunch as an opportunity to tell them what you’ve got going on and ask if there are any particular stories, they are looking for that you may be able to help fill. Again, this all feeds into maintaining the relationship and creates a two-way street instead of you always asking for their help.
The stories that regional news organisations will cover has long been tied to the locality of publication distribution and reach. So, make sure you’re pitching to the right beat reporter. If you’re opening an office in Exeter, then make sure you are submitting the story to local and regional press that cover that patch. Or if your story is a companywide announcement and you have offices spread across different areas make sure you hit the different press in each of those locations to expand coverage – but making sure you adjust the press release to lead with the office that is in the patch of that publication.
While it’s great for brands to communicate their own key messages, an endorsement from a third party will add more weight to the story. If for instance you’re a contractor and you’ve just handed over a newly build factory, get the other main actors involved to give there comment on their contribution and ask the end user how the project has gone and what the new factory means to them. Even better, get the local MP or councillor on board to endorse the project and comment on how it has made a different to the wider community e.g., creating new jobs.
When to call in a professional
We appreciate that all these tips take time which is often in low supply when trying to run other aspects of a business. However, this shouldn’t be a barrier for you getting yourself out there. By appointing a PR that already has established relationships with the media, they will be able to act as your representative and proactively seek opportunities on your behalf, allowing you to get on with the day job. To see examples of our press campaigns and coverage please visit news section of our website. https://gkpr.co.uk/news/