Working to earn media coverage for your brand or clients is something all of us in PR are very familiar with. In an article for PR Newswire, former journalist turned PR pro, Mike Sharp, says if your press release or pitch does not demonstrate relevance immediately, it may miss the mark. Before transitioning to his PR career, Sharp worked as a video journalist with experience in TV, radio and newspaper reporting. He understands PR pros’ goals of providing newsworthy content and aligning themselves as valuable resources to journalists. Here are Sharp’s six steps for earning more media coverage:
- Present the news angle immediately. “Check your press release headline for ‘nonsense’ or unnecessary language,” says Sharp. The top of the release should focus on how the story impacts the reporter’s audience.
- Package the story. “Journalists are now expected to turn out three to four stories a day – if not more – and everyone is short-staffed,” says Sharp. “They want your release to be more effective.” Create the foundation and help journalists build the story. Use multimedia content that is easy to adapt and provide a media contact who is available to provide additional information.
- Cultivate relationships. Position yourself as an accessible expert and reach out to journalists covering your industry. “Connect the journalist with a person your news is impacting directly – put the story in their hands,” says Sharp.
- Connect the dots. Once relationships are established, you will know how to individualize your pitches to different news outlets. Sharp recommends doing the work to figure out what each journalist needs and wants. What is their current beat? Do they only want hard news or are they looking for feature stories? Staying connected is key to building strong relationships.
- Follow up. After you put out a press release, follow up with a personalized message that re-emphasizes your relevance. Sum up your message in quick bullet points, which are easier to consume on the receiving end, says Sharp.
- Ask questions. If your story is not getting coverage, don’t be afraid to ask why. Asking questions is the key to making improvements and knowing what to do differently next time.
As a PR pro, your goal is to generate buzz around your brand’s news. Communicating your relevance to immediately provoke and inform is your ticket to successful earned media.