‘A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.’ That’s according to Richard Branson and we couldn’t agree more!
As PR professionals we work hard to achieve coverage for our clients in the media. How do we do this? By talking to the media of course!
Talking to the media, however, isn’t as easy as it sounds. Here are our top tips to liaising with the press and securing coverage that will make any organisation (and Richard Branson) proud.
1. Access all areas
Providing media with access to a spokesperson is crucial – it brings the organisation to life beyond the press release and adds personality. It all comes down to the all-important human angle – people are interested in other people, of course, not faceless organisations. A well-briefed, media savvy spokesperson can tell the story behind the company and this lies at the heart of the story. This access can be face to face (ideal – particularly if at an event or exhibition – but time may not permit) or on the phone. Either way, the media / spokesperson connection is crucial.
One of the most common PR tips you’ll hear is that you should sell a story to a journalist like you would a friend down the pub. However, journalists, these days, are mostly in the office busy meeting tight deadlines and working hard in what is an incredibly competitive environment.
The PR pitch needs to be brief, relevant and to the point. Think KISS (keep it short and sweet)! Do your research and find the right journalist to talk to. Consider this – is the topic of interest, have they previously written about something similar?
3. Build lasting relationships
Journalists receive hundreds of emails a day. Just like in any other professions they’re more likely to respond to the ones from people they already know personally. Having an established relationship with a journalist not only improves your chances of your email standing out from the crowd but also builds trust towards your organisation. How do you become a familiar face? The key here is trust. If you’re knowledgeable about your organisation, if you know what the journalist needs and if you can deliver it, then you’re half way there!
If you have a story that you think would be the perfect fit for one media outlet, consider offering it as an exclusive. The coverage achieved is likely to be more substantial that if the news is offered to multiple outlets, and this approach helps to foster those all-important media relationships.
5. Facts and figures at your finger tips
Journalists, particularly those on a tight deadline, need PRs to be at the ready with further information – images, facts, case studies, testimonials. Interesting additional material – such as an unusual photo, an impactful infographic, insightful stats – can make the difference as to whether a media outlet picks up the story or not.
A vital issue to consider when liaising with broadcast media is the availability and location of your spokesperson. Are they media trained? Can they easily access a recording studio if required?
Of course pitching to the media is as skilled a job as being a top professional salesman. So leaving it to the professionals is probably the best answer!!