What have you done for me lately? Sometimes it feels like that phrase could be the motto of the public relations profession. We spend time and energy every day making sure we secure the best possible coverage for our clients. Once that clip hits, however, it’s onward and upward to the next story. You learn this pretty early in the business as it's just the nature of the beast. As is the case with many things in life, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to getting a good press hit.
A smart PR professional understands there are three key things that need to be in place to create quality editorial opportunities for their company or client. While each of these can certainly happen independently, they are most effective when working together.
- Know Your Business – This may seem like a no brainer, but trust me it’s not as far fetched as it sounds. I’ve been in far too many meetings, conversations or email exchanges where it is apparent that the person tasked with pitching a story doesn’t fully understand the company’s business objectives. If you don’t really know what the company is trying to accomplish and communicate to the market, how can you convincingly pitch a story that a reporter will buy into?
- Know The Story – No press release, blog or tweet should be a standalone item. Every word, sentence and message should help tell a piece of a broader story. Think of the opportunity lost when an executive is quoted as being “pleased”, “excited” or “happy”. Sure that sounds nice and might make someone feel good, but wouldn’t the reader rather hear about why a partnership will help both companies achieve shared objectives or how an award validates the work a company is doing? The nature of each communication vehicle dictates what kind of information to share, but ultimately, they should all layer on top of each other and work together to tell a complete story for the company.
- Know The Reporter – As in every industry, there are some snarky reporters who revel in highlighting the bad and/or irrelevant pitches they receive. While we all make mistakes, they certainly have a point. How can you expect to get coverage if you are striking up a conversation with the wrong person? Doing research is only half the work. Taking the time to really get to know a reporter who is influential for your company is so important. We do weekly “Call Downs” with the sole purpose of learning more about a reporter or analyst. This can be a phone conversation, a twitter exchange, using time while waiting for other to join a conference call, whatever. The point is that we ask questions about things they are working on, topics they are interested in, or opinions they have on what is happening in the industry. These are simple connections that can strengthen the relationship and give you insights to be more effective in pitching stories.