Working with the media

pressreleaseBusiness owners are in a rush to jump on one of the most effective marketing tactics during this recession era -public relations.  Media outlets are receiving up to thousands of press releases every single day.  However only about 3% of press releases even produce results.  The key is working with the media’s attention to have a great campaign in order to achieve the results you desire.

Building one on one relationships with key members of the press is one of the best public relations strategies.  Identify a core group of media outlets that can deliver coverage important to your business.  Of course this does take a bit of homework in order to create your own short list of the media that influence your customers when they are considering buying what you sell.  Your list may include a combination of blogs, magazines, newspapers, radio stations, or television.

Appeal to editors, journalists, publishers and producers in the same way you would appeal to your best customers.  Learn exactly what they need from you and how you can help them.  Little is more frustrating to a journalist than a pitch that doesn’t even apply to them.  Examine the past work of every editor, journalist or producer on your list and tailor your story carefully before you contact them initially.  You will build strong relationships with the media members you target by consistently sending them what they need to get the attention of their readers, viewers, or listeners.

Making sure you choose the right tool is key.  While public relations professions appear to be divided on the validity of a standard release, it remains an excellent tool for making first time contact with media professions about newsworthy topics.  Whether you should send a full blow press release, pitch a story idea, send a tips sheet, or put out a media alert depends on several factors, particularly the type of story you are pitching and the individual preferences of the media outlets.

The problem is that so many press releases don’t contain news, or worse, are modified sales pitches.  Before sending a release make sure its headline contains a statistic, fact or some compelling piece of information that is new or revelatory.  Make sure that your first sentence has the power to sell your story.  Do not send a stream of ho-hum pitches in the hopes that over time you can capture attention.  This will simply cause the recipients to ignore you.

Before sending your pitches, contact the media outlets to find out whether your targeted recipients prefer to receive then by email or some other means.  If they choose email paste your release in the body of the email rather than sending an attachment, which may not get opened.

You will need to follow up in order to seal the deal.  The real work begins after you have built your in house press list and sent your materials.  Follow up is essential for taking your public relations relationships to the next level.  You can make contact by phone, email or both.  The most important thing is to determine that your pitch was received and whether there is any interest in that particular item.  Most of all, you want to uncover what type of information you can provide that each media contact will find compelling.
Do not be discouraged if your first few stories get little or no attention.  Once you discover exactly what the journalists are looking for you can fine tune the subsequent pitches until you become an information source for them.  That is when you will see your new public relations relationships generate coverage that will motivate customers to choose you instead of your competition.