Selling your business to the press will be a crucial part of your communications mix. While there is no doubt that social media is also an essential part of this mix as it allows companies to talk directly to their customers, coverage in the main stream press can do a lot to boost the profile of your company as it serves as an independent endorsement.
Dealing with the media is not an exact science. That said the goals of targeting them are simple and clear cut:
- To build relationships with key journalists
- To secure coverage in the relevant pages
- To attract an audience
When dealing with the press, keep in mind that you’re dealing with very busy people who need to fill pages. Make their lives as easy as possible by giving them accurate information. Don’t waste time being flowery. Get to the point quickly. This is true whether you’re talking to them on the phone or sending a press release.
Cold-calling is never easy, but like any pitch, if you know something about their specific interests, it’s going to make your opening conversation much easier. For example you might start with, “I saw the article you wrote on xxx company last month and I think your readers will find our story equally interesting.” This shows the journalist that you’re aware of the kind of work that they like to cover. In short you’ve done your research.
Newsrooms receive hundreds of press releases every week, so just blindly emailing a news desk and hoping to be noticed is unlikely to generate any results. That’s why it’s so important to pick key journalists in key titles and focus your efforts on them. Familiarize yourself with the journalist’s background and read the title regularly.
Relationships can happen anywhere and that’s why networking opportunities should never be passed up. Make it your business to attend industry events where you know journalists will be in attendance. Armed with your research, you can approach them, chat about their work and why your company is relevant.
Relevance is a key word here, as this is their benchmark when deciding on contents. For example there’s no point contacting the editor in charge of political affairs when it’s the technology editor that you really want to talk to. Most newspapers list the name and contact details of their editors on their sites, but it’s also good to confirm these details with a phone call as editors can move around.
Freelance journalists are particularly good contacts as they are constantly hungry for new stories, but generally they are short on time. Make sure to give them all the information they need as well as a clever angle. If you can shorten their research time, they’ll thank you for it by mentioning you in their piece.
These days Twitter makes it easy to form links with newspapers, magazines, editors and freelance journalists, as the vast majority have Twitter accounts. The Twitter details of journalists may be included at the end of articles, both The Guardian and Forbes.com do this, or use a tool like Klout to see if any of Twitter’s key influencers are commenting on your industry.
Your ultimate aim when dealing with the press is to boost your company profile as a result of endorsement by an objective source i.e. the journalist. When this happens, you increase customer’s faith in your brand and put your company in a position to win new business.
The communications mix.
Our telesales department and e-commerce site work together as key components of our company’s communications mix.
‘Ryan, I need you to start by cold-calling all the companies listed under the arts section in the directory. I know you haven’t spoken with them before so make sure to keep your telephone manner professional but friendly.’
Emailing a news desk.
As part of my job, I email the news desk at the Telegraph every Wednesday to keep them updated on our progress.
Armed with your research.
Armed with your research, I was able to go to the conference and wow the audience with my speech. Thanks for your help.
Hungry for new stories.
Forbes.com is a great online business ezine because its journalists are always hungry for new and fresh stories.
Top 5 Tips for Dealing with Journalists
- Do your Research
- Ask if it’s a good time to chat?
- Know your Pitch
- Read their Publication
- Meet their Deadline, not yours