If you’re doing good work, you’ll have good stories to share, period. One of the best ways to get these stories out – and to build excellent exposure for your company – is to get the media to cover your business for free. That’s the essence of great public relations. But just as with any business endeavor, good public relations requires good strategy. You could have the best story in the history of the world, but if you don’t share it with the right outlet, it’ll never get off the ground.
When it comes to a great public relations strategy, finding the right fit for your story is of first importance.
Finding the fit takes focus!
When you think about where to sell your story, you need to focus your efforts on the media outlets that will give you the most significant direct benefits.
To sharpen your focus, ask yourself these questions:
- Where would I like to be covered?
- What trade journals do my clients read?
- What media outlets would give maximum exposure to my products, services, or corporate culture?
- Why am I trying to land public relations?
Answering these questions will help you focus and help you define the right organizations to target in your campaign. Once you know the answers to those questions, you’re ready to start mapping out your public relations strategy.
Make a potential public relations list!
Make a list of all the media outlets you want to cover your company. Think about TV, radio, online, magazines, newspapers, e-zines, blogs, newsletters, trade journals, and community papers. Ask your employees for ideas as well. They may know about exciting media outlets that you have never heard of.
Send some simple surveys out to all your customers and potential customers using free tools like SurveyMonkey. Ask them what trade magazines they read and what media outlets they watch or listen to daily and weekly, and then target the ones most closely related to your business angle.
Go online and grab free lists of the top newspapers and magazines by circulation, top blogs by readers, and so forth. Once you have those lists, have your team pick five from each category.
Stay hyper-focused. Resist the urge just to say they’d all be good and pick the ones that will be great.
Zero in on the writers!
Whatever you do, don’t focus on contacting editors. Editors are the kings and queens of “no.” They are not the ones who are in the business of digging up new ideas. They are in the business of editing every approved idea and rejecting most of the others. Instead, zero in on the writers.
The key is to find the best writers and journalists within each of your selected media outlets and to make sure they specialize in your area of expertise. For instance, someone who covers oil and gas companies won’t write about a medical supply company. Someone who focuses on mergers and acquisitions won’t write about your company’s corporate culture.
- Who covers your industry?
- Who covers your competitors?
- Who has covered similar companies in other industries?
All of those people can write about you, too. Reach out to them and them alone.
Make relentless contact!
Contact information for writers, journalists, and photographers can be obtained through services like PR Newswire’s MEDIAtlas or Cision-Point’s Media Database. You can also often find contact information quickly on media outlets’ websites, and nowadays you can even make contact with social media through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and more. If all that fails, you can find someone by entering the person’s name, company, and the word “phone” or “address” into an online search engine.
In a worst-case scenario, you can always call the main switchboard of the writer’s office and ask for the person by name. Hint: I still do this in a tone of voice that implies that the person is practically my lifelong friend. I just casually say, “Oh hi, Mike Smith, please,” and if the receptionist asks if I’d like his voicemail I say, “Sure; what’s his direct line again, so I don’t bother you next time?” It usually works.
Here are a couple more tips. Whenever you have a great interview with a writer, ask what other publications he or she works for. One writer, I wondered years ago wrote pieces for a crummy little trade journal – and Entrepreneur (bingo!). And when you have your photo taken for a story, ask the photographer what other publications he or she shoots for, since this person may be able to introduce you to writers too.
By having laser focus when it comes to your public relations strategy, you’ll get your story into the right hands and have exponentially higher chances of getting your story covered. All it takes is a little time and effort. The results are worth it.
If you have questions or would like more information I’d be happy to help. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and my team will get in touch with you.