Putting the needs of your customer first is key to success in marketing. In media outreach, the principle is the same — except your focus should be on the needs of the journalists that turn your press releases into articles for their readers. After all, without them your story will never reach its ultimate audience.
. . .So how do you turn the needs of reporters into successful media outreach? Help them sell and tell: package your news so that it’s easy for them to sell as article ideas to their editors, and make it easy for them to tell your story to readers in an interesting and topical way.
Timing.Connect your news to a current event. Has a new piece of legislation been introduced that might affect your customers’ lives or businesses? Is there a conflict or scandal in the headlines for which your product or service is relevant? Does your innovation help solve a pressing problem that has made headlines recently? Topicality is critical to journalism. Get media attention by tying your product or services into recent headlines.
Journalists love breathing life into an article by telling the stories of real people. How has your product or service bettered the lives of specific individuals? What are its affects on the local community? Distilling your news into a tale of human triumph can go a long way toward helping reporters get the editorial “green light” for your story and then tell it in an engaging way. Relatedly, the involvement of celebrities (even industry celebrities) can add human interest to your story.
Story ideas are the journalist’s bread-and-butter. Make that work for you by compiling a beat-specific press list, and feed them story ideas that are right up their alley. Find out what journalists are interested in by tracking their posts on Twitter, reading their blogs and visiting their Facebook pages. Once you’ve gained a reputation for meeting their needs with targeted story ideas, your press releases will be opened and read more eagerly than those of publicists who employ a more “scatter shot” approach.
Memorable, substantive quotes make for colorful stories and add human interest to news. Quotations also allow you leeway for “editorializing” in ways that would wreck the journalistic tone of your press release if the words appeared outside of the quote. Use this leeway to emphasize why your news is important. Make your quotes conversational and noteworthy.
. . .And don’t be afraid to borrow a bit of the excitement surrounding other current news and events. For example, instead of simply saying your new production process is fast, calling it the “Usain Bolt of production processes” gives journalists a quote that adds color and timeliness to the story.
Help reporters offer a more complete article to readers with quality images. Images also provide publications a bit of a head start on page designs, making it that much easier for journalists to sell the story idea to their editors.
They don’t call it “earned media” for nothing! You’ll have to earn your place in front of readers (and into the hearts of reporters) by serving up real news. Put yourself in the shoes of your ultimate audience and ask “why would I make time to read this story?” If you can answer that easily, chances are your press contacts will be glad to get your press release. Can’t answer it? You risk harming your reputation among your press by spamming their in-boxes with non-news. And that can affect how readily they pick up your real news.
The list above is far from exhaustive. The ways in which you can help press contacts sell your story to editors and tell it well are limited only by your imagination. . . .But focusing on basics like creating engaging, timely content that’s “marketable” to both editors and readers can put you on the inside track to getting media attention.