Do not underestimate the power of the press. I have seen clients benefit in many ways from press coverage, whether it’s pushing people towards their websites, boosting their Google search rankings or leading to direct sales.
Here are five things I’ve learned about how to successfully work with journalists – and more importantly, how to get them to write positive things about your business:
- Don’t be intimidated
Firstly, remember journalists are just people. I’m not into the PR stereotype of treating journalists like they’re celebrities and showering them with gifts. From my experience, if you present them with genuinely newsworthy material, that’s all they want and there’s no need to resort to mild bribery. However, what is a good idea, is investing in some quality face-to-face time with journalists. For example, invite a local journalist to meet for coffee or lunch sometime and make sure you come armed with newsworthy stories.
- Make sure your news is news
What is newsworthy and worth talking to journalists about? Think about the news channels and publications you’d love to be featured in and think about whether your story is the type of story that appears on such channels. Anything that’s particularly unique or weird might work! Or it could be a new product you’ve launched, a prestigious industry award you’ve received, a celebrity’s association with your brand, a charity event. Think about current big news stories and whether your story could be tied-in. Perhaps you could look into guest article opportunities with your target media too, commenting on trends or issues in your industry and consequently presenting yourself as an expert.
- Go beyond a press release
I’ve had people ask me if the press release is dead and I believe it still has its place. For example, if you’ve got something genuinely newsworthy to announce such as the launch of a truly innovative medical device or the opening of a landmark hotel. However, there’s more you can do than simply emailing a press release to countless blind-copied press contacts (make sure you ALWAYS blind copy). Take the time to collate a carefully-targeted press list. Paid-for tools such as Cision or Gorkana are a great help and can save a lot of time. I generally find my story is more likely to be published if I send personalized, individual emails to the more influential/key journalists, too.
- Be timely
Make sure your news isn’t old news. For example, you host a charity event and want to send some great photos to your local newspaper. Don’t wait a week to send them off – do it as soon as possible after the event. News has to be current.
- Follow up properly
Don’t ever phone a journalist to ask if they have received your press release/email. This is the number one thing journalists hate about PR people. In most circumstances, if you haven’t heard back from the journalist, they’re probably not interested. Also don’t forget to thank a journalist if they publish your story – this will help them remember you and it could lead to more exposure.