Talk with most executives and business professionals who haven’t worked with PR pros before and they’ll likely tell you that media relations is simply a matter of emailing and calling a journalist until they finally make time to talk about your company.
Here’s the hard truth: Just because you think your company or brand is exciting doesn’t mean a journalist does.
Here’s another hard truth: Your company or brand’s mission or vision is NOT news, no matter how relevant the industry.
To my PR colleagues who’ve had to sugar coat these truths to clients - you are not alone. I, too, have had many a client who was dead set on getting a company exclusive on MSNBC, CNN or Dr. Oz. In fact, many have often assumed it is simply a matter of making a friendly call to the producer. After lessons learned, I set expectations upfront when clients are looking to garner coverage by explaining the process. I like to compare media relations to baking a cake.
The first things that stand out about a cake are the way it looks, the colors, the icing, but ask anyone what they like the most about their favorite cake and they’ll tell you it's the way the cake tastes - not the colored icing or sprinkles. From the quality of ingredients and unique flavors, to the freshness, the way the ingredients are mixed together and the baking "science," these factors are what make a truly great cake.
In the same way, when it comes to landing media coverage, the most important pieces begin with “quality” or relevant insight and “fresh” news that must be mixed and strategically baked in order to craft the perfect media coverage cake. To get you started on your recipe, here are a few things to consider.
The “Fresh” Ingredients
Having fresh news to share is the most critical aspect to garnering media coverage. As a company or brand, it really doesn’t matter how you are transforming your industry, if there isn’t something “new” happening, such as a new customer or partnership, a new product or service, impressive internal or growth, you may want to think about another approach to garner coverage.
(Side note: We get it - not every company has something newsworthy to share. But there are other ways to garner media coverage, such as an aggressive thought leadership strategy also called executive positioning.)
Quality or Unique Flavors
Here’s where most brands (and some PR pros) miss the mark. What good is a fresh piece of news, for example announcing a new, big customer, if the only thing that media receive is a basic press release stating the news and including a few quotes with a boiler plate? Communicators today need to package a press release with a twist. What does the news mean for the industry? How is this news an indicator of what’s to come in your sector? What’s different about your product or service that can’t be found elsewhere and why? If you can’t answer these questions, you might need to re-think what you may have considered “fresh” ingredients.
Just about every quarter, Apple introduces a new product (or even sometimes just an upgrade). Yet, although they are one of the biggest tech companies in the world, Apple still crafts a unique twist or story angle in each press release explaining how the new product or feature is transforming the industry. Here are a few examples:
- Apple Introduces iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus —The Best, Most Advanced iPhone Ever
- Apple Introduces Apple Watch Series 2, The Ultimate Device For A Healthy Life
- Apple Reinvents the Wireless Headphone with AirPods
A Good Strategy
Having a good media relations strategy can make or break your media release. This is where the PR pros can help. Factors such as the time of the month and time of day must be taken into consideration. For example, is your news release date around the holidays? Are you planning to announce on a Friday (the worst day for news coverage) or is there big industry event taking place the same month as your news release? Also, leveraging current events and news in your release and pitch can significantly increase your chances of the Wall Street Journal reporter, for example, being interested in your news.
A good strategy also includes a personalized pitch. With the plethora of information online and via social media about journalists’ interests, location, communication preferences or recently written articles, journalists not only expect a personalized pitch, but they become frustrated when PR gurus don’t address them by their first name. (Here’s what journalists think about bad PR pitches.)
A good media pitch should also include research and stats to back up its importance and relevancy for the topics the reporter covers. In addition, a good pitch must offer exclusive interviews with customers or executives.
In sum, the secret to landing successful coverage is to look at media relations like a baking a cake. To stand out and craft a great cake, fresh ingredients, unique flavors and a solid baking “strategy” must all be included.
Do you have news to share or insight you want to see covered in media? You’ve come to the right place. Let's get the conversation started.