For your public relations strategies to be successful, you need to have a list of media outlets you contact every time you want to get content out there. Ideally, you won’t just have a list of outlets, but of people with whom you’ve built a trusting relationship. You are trusted to deliver newsworthy and accurate information and they’re trusted to connect with you to go deeper for additional content.
While you may fail trying to get your name out there with bigger groups, you may find success in an influential reporter or journalist who can feature your story. It pays to get to know individuals behind the outlets. And it’s good public relations etiquette. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve just started with your public relations efforts, or if you are long established, that relationship element is central to success.
If you have yet to make those human connections within media outlets, and before we speak to specifics, let’s do a quick primer to help your information be valuable BEFORE you worry about where and to whom you send it.
Content, including news (old-school press) releases, helps create awareness about ideas, situations, services, people and products for both B2C and B2B companies and businesses. What’s troubling is that more than 95% of news releases are not used for one (or more) of three reasons:
- They aren’t relevant. They lack a local or industry angle.
- They are too promotional, which usually means they’re full of exaggeration and industry jargon (to which the journalist probably mutters, “just buy an ad”).
- They are poorly written. Even those who don’t claim to be writers can spot disjointed organization, grammatical errors and language-use errors. (Ever find typos in a menu and then wonder if you can trust the food?)
These three issues plague all efforts to connect with journalists and influencers, but bad news releases create one giant case study in where communication goes wrong.
Remember, if you want your content to be used, follow the classic TIPPY CUP newsworthiness filter. (Think a sippy cup that tips over.) To be newsworthy, content must be AT LEAST ONE, but it’s better if it’s more than one) of the following elements:
- Is it timely? Something that happened three months ago, or will happen in 18 months, probably isn’t hitting the sweet spot of timeliness. Exceptions exist, such as seasonality, but if your news isn’t happening now, don’t count on a journalis
- What’s the impact? Think scope and magnitude—the more people an issue affects the more newsworthy the content. If your new eCommerce website will affect your 75,000 online customers, that’s impact in scope and magnitude. That’s newsworthy.t to consider it newsworthy. Also remember that just because it’s happening now doesn’t make it newsworthy.
- Proximity, which can be nearness in geography or relationship. If your customers in Florida will be affected by an adaption in your product, that’s newsworthy for them, but maybe not for your customers in Idaho. Don’t send your product update to a national publication. If a company must reduce its sales force because of local economic issues, that might still have emotional proximity to all salespeople everywhere because that’s how they make their living. That’s newsworthy.
- Interest. This one is tricky because you may think your content is interesting, but that’s not the test. Think human interest. People are interested in people, so events that will engage attention and sympathy by enabling readers/viewers to identify readily with the people, problems and situations described. This is why company newsletters with information about people remain popular.
- Does your news have conflict? People or organizations at odds with each other? Go back to the downsizing of a company. There’s inherent conflict there, which makes it newsworthy.
- What’s unusual about your news? It doesn’t have to be unusual, but that’s a newsworthy element. If a new residential siding is made almost exclusively from synthetic polymer waste, that’s unusual (for siding) and it’s newsworthy.
- Does your content feature prominence, such as well-known places, companies, institutions or people? If the president of a company is retiring, that’s news because it’s about someone prominent within the organization. If a governing body within your industry issues a mandate, that can be newsworthy because of the prominence of the governing body.
So where does your well-crafted, newsworthy content go?
Trade Publications and (Local) Newspapers
Trade publications are a classic place to send your news releases. Even if they’re online only and not print, they have value to their readers and may be willing to work with your content. Look for contacts in your local area, within your niche, as well as some on the national or even global scale. A local or regional newspaper may have an interest in something that affects its readership (proximity and impact), so forge relationships with editors and reporters geographically close to your business or company. (Think business journals, too.)
Online News Outlets
Seek out digital-only publications and news sources (don’t forget the bloggers) and add them to your list. That way you reach print and digital media outlets through your outreach on every post. Plus, once it gets picked up by one, more will come.
Television News Stations
Many people forget about TV news, but you can have a lot of success here. Television news stations are always looking for content to feature in their hours-long early morning and afternoon programming. If your content is best shown visually, this outlet group is a goldmine. Demonstrating a new (better be newsworthy) product? Local news can help. They may even ask for the exclusive and make your story a feature.
Radio is another area that many people forget about, but people listen (yes, still!) to the radio every day and you can get a ton of reach through this outlet. Look for local stations, as well as syndicated ones, so you can reach an even broader market with one story.
Of course, these are just general ideas to get you started. Relationships come from one solid story, so be persistent. Relationships allow you to reach contacts more easily in the future and provide you with better chances of having your story picked up. Relationships are built on reliance and trust, so don’t send your story idea indiscriminately. If you’re just started, or you’re unfamiliar with how media outlets structure staff, find the names of reporters and editors who cover your topic area. Distinguish among trade, consumer, local, regional and national outlets.
Relationships also sour with one lousy story idea promoted without credible sourcing, so do good work. Be newsworthy.