In this age when everyone possesses a wealth of information and easy access to it, reputed publications and widely circulate dailies still hold the esteem of the old days, and getting covered in the media is just as important as before. In the world of Public Relations, however, nothing follows a cookie-cutter approach, and this is true of acquiring media coverage as well. That being said, there are certain important things to keep in mind when seeking out coverage and practicing effective media relations.
Better relations, better coverage
Respect for the profession which one works in such tandem with is the key to better relations with journalists. Media professionals across the spectrum face much the same challenges, and if anything can understand each other much better than those from other professions. Follow the journalists you usually pitch to, read their stories, share their work, and build a picture of what they prefer talking about. This will not only build a give-and-take equation, it will also help you understand the relevance of what you’re pitching.
Pitch it right
Your or your client’s story matters to you – you know why it’s newsworthy, how it adds value both for you and for the final reader. For the journalist who doesn’t know the story as intimately as you are, the details need to be neatly spelt out. Additionally, you also need to make it clear how the coverage will make sense for the journalist’s audience. This involves thorough vetting on your part to ensure that stories are being pitched to the relevant platforms. It may be a great piece of content, but it may not make sense to all audiences. Include a key takeaway in your pitch, so that the journalist understands exactly what the objective of the story is and what she/he will achieve from publishing it.
Establish credibility at the outset
With tight deadlines, multiple pitches and reams of stories, journalists may be swamped with a plethora of other tasks when your pitch reaches them. The best way to ensure that your pitch is considered, read and possibly accepted is to do the leg work right in the beginning. If your story needs a quote from a leader, or a comment from an external expert or even certain data for third-party validation, then include it all. Of course it’s impossible to foresee everything that may be needed. But anything that you do think will be of value, without crowding the information, is an important inclusion. Establishing this credibility in the beginning will ensure that the journalist takes your story seriously without any avoidable doubts arising.
Branch out actively
There are the widely circulated newspapers which have been around for decades, and then there are the more recent online platforms and print magazines that are often hungering for unique, good quality content. While the traditional publications are crucial, it’s advisable to branch out and consider all the other possible avenues. These range from the ones which reach out to vast, all-encompassing audiences, to those that have their strong and steady niches. Based on your target audience and the story you want to tell, figure out which makes more sense and then proceed.
This is more a habit that should be inculcated than a one-time endeavour. Whenever media opportunities are acquired, sharing the coverage actively on social media is a great way to boost the effects and impact of the coverage. Social media presence of the coverage also sets in motion a continuous public record of the stories you or your client have been featured in. Also a good practice is to repost on your company blog and link to the original coverage. On your website, have a separate section for all your media coverage wherein an excerpt or the summary can appear with a link to the original coverage.
Above everything else, of course, is the quality of content. If the content you provide is subpar then no effort is enough to get consistent media coverage. Obtaining media opportunities does not mean selling an idea against all odds, no matter what the quality. Don’t sell the un-sellable, because good content sells itself – you just need to be the facilitator.