Know what reporters pay attention to.
5 min read
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Recently, business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan nominated one of our clients for their award of excellence. Interestingly, they called the PR company instead of the client, which shows there was a direct relationship between the nomination and the PR efforts.
Public relations is an essential part of marketing for any company because it brings visibility and credibility to your business. Getting featured in top-tier outlets with millions of readers per month not only boosts your website traffic, but also lets people learn about you from a neutral perspective. This can mark the difference between acceptance and failure.
Yet, getting in the outlets is a difficult task. Knowing how to tell your story and who to tell it to is half the equation. The other half is how not to be ignored, even with the perfect pitch and timing. This usually requires hiring a PR company with years of experience and established connections, but there are some shortcuts, which even seasoned PR companies miss.
One of the easiest ways to get a placement is when a reporter is looking for sources — and every day, there are dozens of such requests. Still, one must consider that journalists are busy people. And for every reporter, there are five PR firms. It’s no wonder when authors post a request on Twitter or another platform, they are flooded with responses. So how do you stand out? What do reporters pay attention to and what do they leave out?
Here are a few tips:
- Respond as early as possible. Late responses are ignored, sometimes for the simple reason that another source has offered similar answers before you. Make sure you get their attention first.
- Avoid long introductions. Authors need to filter out what they want fast, so any unnecessary jargon either slows them down or even makes them miss your point.
- Be clear. Don’t expect the author to be a techie like you, and don’t take anything for granted. Communicate your message clearly. Using short bullets does magic. Add headlines to improve readability, and highlight important keywords. The faster they grasp the content, the higher your chances for getting their attention.
- Show what sets you apart. Why should they consider you in the first place?
- Who do you know? If you are associated with big names in any way, using that will drive attention. It brings immediate credibility to your project and saves the author some background-checking time
- Build rapport. Reporters are more likely to respond to people they know in advance. Connecting with and following reporters on social media is a great way to make them recognize you.
- Give them dibs. If you have exclusive or embargoed news, it’s a good opportunity to use them now to secure the piece.
- Pay attention to the reporter’s request and respond accordingly. Journalists have no obligation to get back to you and ask about your business. If they feel the content shared is irrelevant and misses the point, they will ignore you.
- Be smart when emailing. Try to come up with a unique subject in your email. Email clients, like Gmail, tend to group emails with the same subject as part of the same conversation. Coming up with a unique title makes sure your email doesn’t get lost.
- Short is sweet. Make sure you put the unique part of the subject as early as possible. Some email systems tends to cut off long subject lines.
- Definitely use links. You want to give the reporter an easy way to find more information, and you want to make sure they find the info that supports your case best.
- Direct is best. If you have a direct email from the reporter, using it will increase your chances in terms of formatting and the content you can provide. It also allows you to add link trackers so you can measure your success.
- Follow up, but don’t push. Many responses actually come from the follow-up email. Sometimes it helps to add the word “Follow-up” to the subject to make the point clear as well as start a new thread, which makes the email stand out.
- Give them access. Make sure you have whitelisted the reporter. It is extremely annoying to miss an otherwise perfect opportunity because the author can’t get back to you for queries.
- Give credit. Don’t forget to mention who your comments should be attributed to. You might have only one shot, so make it count.
- Share proof. It’s not enough you mention “we are the best” — the reporters need to see that. Share statistics, numbers and anything someone from outside of your company could use to independently verify the credibility of your claims.