I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to see a client and the first thing they say about members of the media is ‘they never run my stuff’.
Invariably, the dialogue that follows tends to include their proclamations along the lines of:
It was a great story
I know I write very good English
I even sent a picture with it
And I told them when the event was happening (and that we were cutting a cake)
I even called eight times
I can imagine it’s enormously frustrating for a small business, seeking out publicity and determined to achieve coverage for themselves, to then gain absolutely zero recognition for their efforts.
But there are ways to combat that, and to ensure your media relationships are better preserved in the future.
Having been a journalist for many years, and then ventured into the world of PR and marketing, I like to think I can look at the issues around genuine story potential from both angles.
I can see what the client hopes to tell the world, and I can also see what the priorities of the time-strapped journalist are.
Here’s a few tips to help enhance your relationships with members of the media:
Get to know who covers what stories
Whether we’re talking about a regional newspaper, a national or a trade title, you’ll find most journalists have ‘patches’ or specialist areas. Try to find out who covers the arena you’re most concerned with, and go so far as to read content they’ve already produced on that subject matter.
Being specific about a target helps your chance of success.
Make sure your press releases are succinct but thorough
Just like you’ve been told about a CV, in the case of a press release, pages and pages are not what’s important.
What the receiving journalist wants is to be able to quickly and clearly pick up on the detail around the Who What Where Why When of your story.
Make sure you have ALL the facts. Don’t leave them with lots of holes to have to enquire about.
Give them a picture they’ll really want to use
If you’re going to issue a picture, make it one that you can really see working in that publication.
Is it sharp? Does it capture what the story is about? Does it feature human interaction? Is it slightly different or captivating.
Oh, and don’t send a journalist a file of several dozen megabytes in size. They won’t be impressed!
If you’re expecting them at an event, make sure there’s something in it for them
We know you’d like a journalist to attend the event, but they’re busy people, so there has to be a reason why your event stands out.
Will there be a chance to interview someone exclusively? Are you hosting something really very unusual?
Ask yourself if it is REALLY worth the journalist’s time as you plan the organisation of the event itself.
Don’t pester without reason (be appropriate)
Yes, you’ll want to check up on whether a press release has been received perhaps, but don’t turn yourself into a PR pest and constantly hound the member of the media to know when your story will run.
If you do, it’s a sure way to get their back up.
Say thanks, and stay in touch
Gratitude goes an awful long way, so remember a thank you to the journalist who runs your story.
And don’t then disappear. Maintaining contact is a really useful way of keeping the relationship going and being remembered for other potential story opportunities.
**For more PR help, contact Deborah at firstname.lastname@example.org