There is no denying the power of good PR, but for many, it's not about understanding the benefit of PR and why it is important, it's understanding the how of good public relations. Here is a cheat sheet covering all of the PR basics that you can use in order to start getting positive media coverage for your brand.
Developing a Story
In order to get your company’s name in the media, you need to be able to sell or pitch a story that will actually intrigue the media. No member of the media is just randomly going to do a story on you because you are looking for a way to market your business. You have to give them a story that they can actually run.
When it comes to developing a story, remember the media is not interested in your product or service, they only care if a story on you is going to interest their readers. You need to cater to the media as if they were your customer. After all, they are buying what you are selling, which in this case is your story.
If you really want to get the attention of a specific media outlet, offer them an exclusive. This is a great approach if you really want to get into a specific publication. Offering an exclusive means that you only send your pitch or your press release to one singular outlet, offering them complete access to the story you are selling.
Finding Media Contacts
Once you have a story, it is important to know whom to send it to. The right media contact list is paramount when it comes to pitching any story. Start by building a personal contact file of individuals in the media that you know you can reach out to. You should always be working on this list and always trying to make it bigger.
You can look up the media contact information of writers and editors that may want to cover your story. Make sure that you are only sending your pitch to those who would actually be interested in covering a story on your topic. Be specific about whom you are sending your pitches to, but don’t limit yourself. You shouldn’t be afraid to broaden your outreach and to throw some “big names” in there as well. Remember, you don’t actually need to know some of these big names, you just need to be able to write a pitch that will interest their editor or producer.
Writing a Pitch
When writing a pitch, you need to remember to be different. The average journalist will see hundreds of ideas a day, meaning press release after press release can start to run together. You need to be willing to be a little different when it comes to writing and delivering a pitch.
Know about whom you are pitching to and try to cater your idea to the specific writer or producer that you are trying to sell your story to. When you do create a pitch or press release you need to keep the following things in mind:
- The content needs to be specific and to the point.
- It needs to have real, actual facts.
- Never exaggerate.
- Link to social media.
- Keep the tone professional.
- Make sure you focus on the story the media can sell instead of on promoting your company.
When you are done creating your pitch, make sure that you go back through and edit for errors. The more clean, clear, and professional looking your pitch is the better chance it has of getting picked up by the media.
There is an art to following up. After you have sent your press release once, you need to follow up with the individual that you sent that press release to. This can be through a call or an email, or even by sending another copy of your press release. Remember, members of the media are extremely busy; they don’t have time to read and respond to every email that they get. Almost 90% of media placements are secured on the follow-up.
The ideal follow-up time is 1-2 days after sending your initial pitch. Only one follow-up is needed. If you haven’t heard anything within a few days of sending your follow-up, the contact likely isn’t interested, and it’s time to move on to the next contact or story.
Don’t be discouraged when your pitches are not immediately accepted by a media outlet. PR, like sales, involves a lot of rejection before you hit success. The important thing is to stay consistent and to make sure you are delivering high-quality pitches that are relevant to whom you are pitching. Do that long enough and you will find success.
Richard Lorenzen is the CEO of Fifth Avenue Brands, a public relations firm in New York. Entrepreneur Magazine named him one of the top 50 people in digital marketing in 2016, INC Magazine named him one of the top 8 entrepreneurs on Twitter, and LinkedIn ranked him as one of the top millennial influencers of 2016. Richard is a frequent media contributor and speaks worldwide about entrepreneurship. He is also the co-founder of AchieveIconic.com, a blog focusing on entrepreneurship and personal development.