Come on phone, ring! You sent a media release out three days ago…it’s a great story. No one has called you back. What is wrong with the media?
You spent time researching the right media to send your release to, started following the journalist on Twitter to see what they write about, got your facts right and pressed sent…and got nothing back. It is the frustrating aspect of media relations and public relations. I can’t tell you the number of time I have sent a media release about a cracking story and not heard one word. When I follow up, I get the run around. It really is part and parcel of using this as a marketing tool – the same as ANY other tool.
I’ve pulled together list of four reasons why your story has not got a run and some tips on how to improve your chances next time.
1. It is called ‘news’ for a reason
Your brand new website or the opening of your new office is not newsworthy. What would be news would be how you are employing kids straight out of school to give them the opportunity to develop skills.
The fix – get a handle on what is newsworthy and the primary purpose as journalist does what they do – to tell great stories.
What is newsworthy?
Conflict/controversy: Why do we read glossy women’s mags filled with the latest on who is divorcing who or watch the news at night filled with stories of violence, fighting, backstabbing and conflict? We may not want to be in the middle of it but we sure love to watch.
Human Interest: A great story tugs on the heart strings, stirs emotions and feelings.
Timeliness: Your story must be current or linked to something that is in the news now. It is coming up to Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, tie in with these events.
Proximity: Keep the news close to the home – if it is a story about your local community, pitching it to your local paper will improve your chance of getting it published.
2. Content creation
This means take your time working on your headline – it has to be catchy, punchy and short. Most importantly it has to sum up your story. If it does not pop, it will get passed over. No one wants to read long pages of text with no end in sight or be left scratching their head working out what the story is about.
The fix – Keep the paragraphs short, well-structured with good grammar, good English, well laid out and proofread. Spice your content up with short paragraphs, bullet points, quotes, images, videos, infographics – whatever you can think of to grab your reader’s attention and make them want to share your story.
3. Scattergun and impersonal
Can you image how many emails a journalist would get on a daily basis – some received hundreds a day. Sending a generic email without personalising it will ensure it gets passed over.
The fix – find out the name of the journalist you want to target – get to know them through Twitter and LinkedIn. Follow their work so you can reference – PR is all about relationship building. Use their name.
4. Personalise your pitch
It all comes back to the list. By taking the time to create a media contact list that fits your message and your target market, you will be sending your story to the right people. When you have no idea what the publication/program are looking for in a story and pitch are story that has no interest to their readers/listeners, you will be successful. When you call, do not make it sound like a cold call or something you have scripted, take the time to practice, be comfortable with what you are saying.
The fix – Be human, engaging, enthusiastic when you call. As the journalist is they have time to talk, that you want to run a story idea past them. If you have taken the time to build a list, send an introduction first with info about you, your business and what you can offer (this is where planning comes into play and a great media kit).
Doing your own PR will be a learning curve but you will find the benefits far outweigh the minor hiccups on the way. Nothing is 100% guaranteed – advertising, Facebook ads, flyers, leaflets. What PR will give you is something money can never buy – third party credibility and social proof.