When you have put a lot of time and effort into creating a news release, it can be hugely frustrating when you can’t get hold of journalists, or the story is turned down by your target publications.
Hours have been wasted with no results to show your client, meaning you have to keep pushing when other work is piling up.
Most businesses would like positive newspaper or magazine coverage, but the truth is only the very best stories make the page in what is an ever increasingly competitive arena and now, many companies are not suited to a traditional news release approach.
This may be because data or case studies are not available, no new services or products are in the pipeline, or the particular industry is flooded.
Whatever the reason, the client wants media coverage, and you’ve been asked to find a story. Instead of forcing a non-issue or, much worse, fabricating figures, public relations consultants should be managing clients’ expectations (because many still consider the job of a PR agency to write news releases) and using the most appropriate method of gaining coverage.
One alternative technique is to offer a company spokesperson for interview or comment within a planned feature, illustrating the individual’s expertise and shining a light on the business as an authority in it’s field.
Placing thought leadership or advice comments can be more time efficient than the intense and lengthy news release pitching route. Resource is a concern within PR, especially within principled agencies who put the emphasis on delivering results rather than on how many hours have been spent on the account.
If you consider the ratio of time spent to the gained results and compare it to the work involved in gaining a few comment pieces, you can see how putting forward a company individual could be an effective strategy for you.
Four ways to gain media coverage without a news release
- Read editorial calendars or forward features lists. Whether you use a specialized paid-for service, contact features editors yourself, or find the list on the publication’s website, forward features lists detail those articles are planned for, often 12 months ahead. Carefully think about what facts, figures, analysis, and advice your client can bring to the feature and have a frank discussion about what’s required with the assigned journalist to secure the opportunity.
- Watch for media requests. The integrated agency I work for is registered with a journalist inquiries system, meaning I receive emails (sector specific) with requests for planned features. The range of inquiries is huge but quickly spotting and responding to something relevant to one of my clients has resulted in coverage in national and primary industry publications. Subscribe to HARO if you haven’t already.
- Scan Twitter. In a similar way to email alerts, journalists and bloggers use the platform to request commenters and as mentioned in my previous article on Spin Sucks, #journorequest is a great hashtag to watch.
- Build and maintain relationships. When you begin to service a new client there is no harm in calling the targets to introduce yourself, the business, and any key individuals available for interview and comment. In the past I have struck lucky and on one occasion there was an immediate fit to provide industry advice on a monthly basis (what a win!). Also, if a journalist covers a relevant story or has written about a competitor, let them know that you exist in preparation for the next appropriate opportunity.
Although a quick response, a helpful attitude and a healthy relationship with the journalist is often needed to obtain any print, broadcast, or online PR coverage, I find it is especially important when it comes to providing comment.
Nearing deadline, the publication needs to trust you can provide what they need to complete the feature and if you efficiently and speedily deliver the goods, not only should your comment be used, but it is also likely they will contact you again for comment on similar issues.
Keredy Andrews is a senior account manager at PR, search, and social media agency, Punch Communications. Punch is based in the U.K. and delivers integrated services for local and global, B2B and B2C clients.