Our public relations account manager Emily Tracy recently led a webinar, “Planning, Strategy and PR Tactics for Today” as part of a series of webinars on marketing and PR that we offer in partnership with Colorado Proud. This is a blog version of that webinar – watch the video version here.
Public relations professionals are entrenched in media relations every single day. We’re speaking with reporters about what’s new with our clients, creating compelling press releases, and promoting the results of our efforts. But you don’t have to be a PR pro to generate media attention that can make a huge difference.
In this webinar-turned-blog-post, we’ll cover creating a smart PR plan including timeline etiquette, how to track down contact information for that big writer, what to do if you just can’t seem to generate media coverage, how to take advantage of that big media hit, and some interesting new developments in the PR and media world.
- First Things First: Creating a PR Plan
Before contacting a journalist and before you put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard) writing a press release, you need to map out a plan for success. Our monthly PR plans for clients are typically planned three to four months out and include all of our PR strategies for those months – press releases, pitches, media events and more. Like Benjamin Franklin said, failing to plan is planning to fail.
What should my PR plan include?
- Planned company announcements, such as product releases and anniversaries
- Nationally recognized holidays like Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve
- Social media holidays that pertain to you, such as National Sandwich Day
- Evergreen topics where you’re an expert, like food security, CBD, and climate change
What will my PR plan be missing that may need to be added in real time?
- Real-time current events
- Unplanned company updates such as departures and new hires
If you have a perfect holiday gift that you’d like featured in Food & Wine Magazine’s print magazine in December and you send over your information to an editor in October, your email will likely be deleted. It’s crucial to follow timeline etiquette in order to receive appropriate coverage and to not irritate journalists who receive literally thousands of pitches a day.
Writers for Bon Appétit and Food & Wine print work differently than writers for regional magazines, whose timelines are different again to writers for digital publications or local newspapers. You can pitch digital-only publications just a few days out. Regional print publications work about four months out. National print publications, like Sunset Magazine and Travel & Leisure Magazine, work five to six months out – think turkey tips in May/June and Christmas in July. Your PR plan will help you map out when you need to be gathering information and sending it to writers to be considered for publication.
2. Tips and Tricks for the Tricky Parts
Now that you have your plan of attack, let’s discuss some issues that you might run into when trying to secure media coverage and following media coverage:
Problem #1: I’m having trouble finding journalists’ contact information!
PR professionals clutch their media lists like it’s the Bible.
We hone our media lists over years and even pay big bucks for subscription services that provide us access to email addresses.
However, there are free ways to find some journalists’ emails:
- Check their Twitter bio
- Many freelance journalists have their own websites that often feature their email address, or at least a contact page
- Go to their profile on a publications’ website (i.e. click their byline and be taken to where all of their articles are featured)
- If you can find an email address of someone else at the publication, use their email format (for example – firstname.lastname@example.org) to see if you’re successful at reaching your desired writer
Problem #2: I’m having trouble securing media hits!
While no story is going to resonate with every single writer that you’d love to be covered by, there are ways to increase your success rate. If you’ve sent out a compelling pitch and/or press release and haven’t gotten the traction you’ve wanted, ask yourself:
- Is there compelling, recent data I can include to back up my story?
- Can I do more research for the writer – are there other companies doing this that illustrates a trend?
- Is there anything in the news right now that is related to my story?
Some ROOT insider tips that we utilize:
- While it can be intimidating, call the TV and radio stations and pitch your story idea
- Offer something above-and-beyond to select media targets like a behind-the-scenes tour or discount code for their readers.
- Consider affiliate partnerships with media outlets. Typically, you offer their readers a code, then the media gets a kickback from sales.
- Post your press release on websites that allow you to upload your own content, some of which are detailed here.
- Research writers on Medium and LinkedIn in your industry, then pitch them your story.
- Most importantly: follow up once. So often emails can fall through the cracks and a gentle reminder might just be the catalyst you need for a story.
Problem #3: I finally got media coverage – how do I take full advantage of it?
Showing off your media coverage builds your third-party credibility to your followers, website visitors, potential customers and shareholders, while also giving thanks and increased visibility to the writer and their media outlet (speaking of which, it’s always a good idea to email the writer to thank them personally!) Here are some ideas of how to make the most of that hit:
- Share on social media
- Tag the publication
- Tag the writer if they have social accounts
- Consider adding it to your bio on Instagram (or use Campsite to post it to a special page the way we do on our Instagram)
- Consider boosting the post
- Add to your website
- Include it in your company newsletter
- Send it out in a an email alert to your mailing list
- Add it to your email signature
3. What does the future of PR look like?
Looking ahead, here are some developments and trends we’re noticing that might be helpful for you to keep in mind:
- Potential decline of weeklies and continued decline of dailies
- Rise of hyper-local online newsletters/publications such as Axios Denver, Denverite and Colorado Sun.
- Rise of paywall memberships like Patreon and Substack. Patreon provides business tools for content creators to run a subscription service. It helps creators and artists earn a monthly income by providing rewards and perks to their subscribers. Substack is another online platform that provides publishing, payment, analytics, and design infrastructure to support subscription newsletters.
Whether you’re a CPG company that’s new on the scene or a longtime restaurant group, you have a story to tell that can help you reach your target customer. If you’d like to shine a spotlight on what you offer and these tactics seem too time consuming, it might be time to hire an agency like ROOT to bring the contacts and media relations expertise needed to take your communications to the next level. Give us a call or send us a message to chat about how we can help you achieve success