As public relations experts, we regularly secure earned media coverage for our clients at major news outlets. If you’re struggling to earn coverage for your company, use these insider tips to help you improve your media relationships and increase your earned coverage.
- Build relationships.
The best way to earn media coverage is to build relationships with reporters first – before you need something. By building a relationship with journalists in your geographic market or your vertical industry, you become a credible and trusted resource.
- Engage journalists on social media.
Part of building relationships is following and engaging journalists on social media. Find out what interests them, what they’re writing about, and be sure to like and share their work. This way, they recognize your name well in advance of your first ask or pitch.
- Call first.
Before sending news releases to reporters, call them and ask permission. In our experience, this works really well. If they don’t answer, leave a message giving them a heads-up. That way, the reporter will recognize your name when it pops up in his or her email inbox.
- Think beyond news releases.
Do you know that you can earn great media coverage without a news release? Some of our best earned media coverage came without ever writing a release. How? We pitched a great story to the right news outlet, and we had a great relationship with that outlet. Many companies focus on the quantity of news releases and media pitches. Instead, they should focus on the quality of the media relationships and newsworthiness of their announcements.
- Limit news releases.
Instead of automatically writing a weekly news release, focus on one – maybe two – really good, newsworthy releases each month. Sure, you might have more occasionally. Just focus on quality, not quantity. Keep your message simple and engaging. Unless you’re a big company in a small market or in the midst of a crisis, it’s unlikely the news media will cover your news weekly.
- Pitch social media editors.
Don’t overlook social media editors for pitching your story. They want fresh, original content as much as journalists do. Send the social desk stories specifically for use on social media. For example, a TV news show might not air your story because of time constraints; however, the outlet may share your story with its online audience, which probably exceeds its traditional viewership.
- Consider your subject line.
The subject line in a pitch email is perhaps the most critical element of your pitch. Be sure that it’s engaging and actually represents your story. There are two sides to the subject line debate: 1.) Short subject lines get more opens. 2.) Long subject lines work best.
- Use insightful quotes.
Leverage quotes when pitching the news media. The perfect press release quote goes a long way in earning media coverage. Quotes should be interesting and provide unique insight that you can’t objectively say.
- Learn from your previous news releases.
Compare your news release to the coverage you earned from it. See how the news outlet improved your story and try to emulate that with future news releases. Remember, you should write your news release for the reader not the boardroom.
- Build your brand.
PR builds a brand, while advertising supports that brand. Consumers tend to ignore advertising; they’re more likely to trust a news story about a thought-leader or a brand. In fact, there are many brands that don’t advertise, and they’re established and recognizable without it.
- Make paid media your last resort.
You should never lead with your company’s news in an advertisement. You should exhaust your PR efforts before you turn to advertising. When it’s not news or no longer new, then you should buy an ad to support the message long term.
- Think local.
Sometimes earning media coverage is as simple as looking in your own backyard. Submit local news briefs or Avalon your news in the cities where you have locations or products.
- Don’t count on favors.
Just because you know a journalist personally doesn’t mean you have an automatic opportunity or a guaranteed story. To earn media coverage, you can’t call your best friend to pull favors to get a story about your company. Credible news outlets only want stories that are newsworthy.
- Get to know the media outlet inside and out.
You should study the outlets where you want coverage. Learn the editors’ names and the types of stories they publish. Get to know the reporters and the sections that they write for, so you pitch to the correct journalist. Each outlet is unique – pitching Forbes will be different than pitching Inc. and any other outlet.
- Utilize editorial calendars.
As you study an outlet, you should also review its editorial calendar to find future earned media coverage opportunities. Keep in mind that magazines are working at least three months in advance.
Include these tips in your strategy to earn media coverage for your company. For more insider knowledge on how to build great relationships with the media, download Axia Public Relations’ complimentary e-book “Learn Media Relations from the Media” today.
Clients love Marjorie’s work ethic, speed and diligence. She has worked with Axia Public Relations since October 2011. Marjorie graduated from Rockhurst University with a Bachelor of Arts in communication and loves to cheer for her hometown Kansas City Royals. Learn more about Marjorie.
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