Public Relations (PR) is durable and this can be a great thing, or a terrible one for your business. It’s all about building brand identity, creating awareness and gaining credibility. one key part is media relations: building trusting relations with the right reporters can make or break a brand.
To get your media relations right, here are a few tips and tricks when approaching reporters.
What you should do
Contact a reporter ONLY if you have some relevant news
Especially if it’s the first time you reach out, make sure you are sharing information that’s in line with what this reporter covers, presented in a clear and concise way, and sharing something newsworthy. If you’re sharing helpful and timely info with a journalist, chances are, they’ll remember your name next time. It’s the beginning of a good relationship.
Give a reporter sufficient time to look at and cover the news you share
Reporters receive between 100 and 500 emails DAILY. Sharing a press release does not guarantee coverage. Offering the news under embargo with chosen reporters can up the chances of securing coverage, by giving reporters time to assess the news before it goes public.
Offer a bigger-picture angle when pitching a specific story to a reporter
This is a massive time saver for a reporter, and can also serve as your biggest selling point. For example, if you are announcing the launch of a freelance platform, share industry numbers about the number of freelancers in your market, the predicted increase in independent workers in the next 5 years. Basically, make a case for your pitch by painting the broader picture with real market numbers.
Favour quality over quantity
What you need in the early stages is a ‘media footprint,’ so that you are discoverable online, with reputable sources to back it. One good article about your product, or your founders, which clearly articulates your vision and mission is enough to have a lasting positive effect on your clients, prospects, etc.
Offer an exclusive to a journalist that’s important for your business
Depending on the type of announcement you are planning on making, offering an exclusive can sometimes be the best strategy to secure the quality coverage you’re looking for. Choose a trusted reporter and make sure they commit to publishing the exclusive news you are sharing with them. An exclusive helps you better control the messaging as you are briefing only one reporter with the news.
The dont’s of PR
Reach out to a reporter with no specific news
The era of media blasting (sending out a press release to a large list of reporters) is over. Build a manual, albeit shorter press list of relevant contacts for each announcement. You’ll get better returns from a shorter personalized media list than a long generic one.
Bother a reporter if you don’t have a good reason to
Between 9:00 and 5:00 pm a reporter is by definition always busy and there isn’t necessarily a perfect time. Avoid phone calls unless they are needed, and don’t offer a face-to-face meeting unless you have a reason to (embargoed info to share, specific brief to give, an exclusive product demo for them).
Cry wolf, ever
Avoid email subject lines such as URGENT. It’s up to the reporter and their editor to decide what news is urgent. Also, avoid generic email subjects such as Press release. Between an email subject line “Press release” and “Facebook buys company X”, it’s quite obvious which one will get a better opening rate. Be clear, concise and to the point in your interactions with reporters.
Contact a reporter too early or too late with some news
If your startup is still at the “two devs in a garage” stage, it’s too early to contact a reporter about your upcoming launch. Once you have a proof of concept and some users, that becomes your founding story and it’s much easier to pitch to the media. However don’t contact a reporter way late, such as two weeks after a piece of news is out.
Share approximate or fake news with the media
It might be tempting to share a vision of how big your company might be in two years or to pre-announce that you’ll be rolling out certain features soon, but as a rule of thumb, only share what IS. Avoid hyperbolic statements, or unreachable estimates. Once something is published in the public domain, you can’t take it back.