These days, public relations (PR) covers everything from newspapers and magazines – in print and online – to radio, digital TV, social media and everything in between. When you’re starting out, it’s best to focus on generating local coverage because this is where your successes will be most likely to reach your target audience and, therefore, have the most impact.
So, what actually makes the news? Think about the last newspaper or magazine you read… how many articles talked about how much money a business was making? Or how many clients they had? I’m guessing none. That’s because journos really don’t care about those things. If you try to push salesy content on them, they’ll probably just give you the number of their advertising department who will be more than happy to take your money and run… an advert.
So, what should we talk to the press about? What would they be interested in sharing with their audiences? Here are a few ideas to get your juices flowing:
- Stories about how you make a difference
- Human element/real people… YOU!
- Making an impact in the community
- Charity involvement
- Quirky/fun events – World Baking Day, National Poetry Day etc.
If you’re still unsure, try this little mental check. We always say a story needs to be one of three things: educational/informative, entertaining/emotive or valuable. Does yours hit one of those criteria?
It’s important to have great pictures to accompany any news. So, that means if you’re holding an event or doing something fun with your team, you need to plan to take them in advance! High res, in focus, nice and bright. And don’t panic about having a fancy camera, most smartphones will take fantastic pictures these days.
Armed with your fantastic photos, you now need to write a press release.
The press release most likely to secure coverage
Don’t be daunted by this. The simple fact is, you’ve got to write down what’s happened. When you speak to the press (we’ll cover that in a moment) if they’re interested in your story, they’ll most likely ask if you have a press release and pictures that you can send to them. Being able to say ‘yes!’ there and then, gives you a massive advantage and can really help to secure coverage. Here’s what you need for a really effective press release:
- A catchy headline
- Relevant content
- Local references
- 600 words
- Simple, direct language
- Non-salesy angle.
You’ve just put yourself in the strongest possible position to secure some PR in your local media. Now all you need is people to tell your story to…
Little black book
You don’t have to have a little black book of media contacts. Instead, use the fact that you’re a local business owner to your advantage. What’s the most popular paper in your area? What radio station does everyone listen to? Where do people go to get their news? Doesn’t matter if you’re B2C or B2B, you’ll have a great understanding of the types of media that your customers and potential customers consume.
Make a list of the top five places you’d love to secure coverage. Then, you need to look for the most suitable person to speak to. This is usually a place where people go wrong too. There’s no point contacting a sports reporter with news of an exciting new addition to your team!
You can find the right person in a few ways. For online articles, you’ll often be able to look at a contact page which will list names, job titles and email addresses. And you can always pick up the phone and ask who the best person is to speak to. If you do this, be prepared that you may be put straight through.
Now it’s time for the pitch!
Pitch don’t punt
Thoughtful pitching to contacts is by far the most effective way of securing your media coverage. Don’t just bang out a template email and bcc everyone in. That’s what’s known as news-blasting or blanket emailing. Often, these types of emails will just be ignored. Instead, pick up the phone and actually talk to people. Explain very briefly who you are, what your story is about and ask if it’s of interest. Don’t worry if it’s not quite right this time – you’ve made the contact now and PR, as with most things in business, is all about building great relationships.
Following this simple but effective process is the best way to secure media coverage for you and your business. The truth is, PR really isn’t that mystifying – but it takes time and people with the right skills to keep your efforts consistent. Hello, we’re TeamRev.