At the risk of sounding far older than I am…
Back in my day when I was getting started working in media relations, things were much different. Of course, with the exponential growth in digital communications from day to day, this same statement would also be true if I were far younger as well.
It is a very true statement, nonetheless. While email was widely used for article pitches and press release distribution (I’m not that old), there was still the odd media contact who listed their contact preference as mail or even fax. When’s the last time you saw a fax machine?
The media relations landscape is in constant evolution. The two most significant contributing factors I can identify are the internet boom in the late 90s that moved many print outlets online, and the dawn of social media that drastically altered the news cycle. Previously, it might’ve been customary to get caught up on the local news of the day by watching the 5 o’clock news- or read about all the developments happening in your industry in this month’s issue of [Enter your industry here] Monthly. Nowadays, the news cycle is 24/7. Coverage is nearly simultaneous, and it lasts as long as it takes to be buried by other ‘breaking’ news headlines. In addition to this, media outlets are operating with smaller and smaller staffs, who are increasingly inundated with pitches and press releases. Getting your message to the right reporter through all of this noise can be a real challenge.
The following tips will help you navigate today’s media relations landscape.
The timeliness of a pitch has always been a positive, but nowadays it is almost essential. Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news related to the topics you’d like to comment on. Use resources like Google News Alerts and HARO to help keep an eye on the field. Figure out who is talking about what, and what they are saying. Ask your customers where they get their information and target these and similar outlets.
After you’ve determined who the influencers are in your targeted space, get on their radar. Follow them on social media and share the stories they post. Share your knowledge on a well maintained and regularly updated company blog, and refer any reporters looking for more information to your blog. Respond to any reporters’ questions quickly and professionally, and always meet any deadline they give you. If you are a reliable, credible source for them, they will remember you the next time they’re looking for help.
Earning media is a reciprocal relationship. Reporters are always on deadline, so if you can help them quickly and easily fill a gap, they’ll be obliged to work with you and run your news. However, the key word here is “news.” Be sure your content is written in a professional, objective news style (AP is preferred) so reporters can copy and paste it. The more your material reads like the news you see in their outlet, the better the chance you have of getting it placed. There is a place for marketing jargon, self-promotional speak, and buzzwords, but it isn’t here.
By following these tips, you can get the attention you need and finally see your company in the headlines.
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