Here are some tips, from my long-ago experience as a journalist, about ways to get more coverage and get the most from any investment you are making in PR.
- Resources. Have lots of pictures available – preferably taken by professionals and stored digitally in high resolution, ready to be downloaded from your website. Photographers are expensive so magazines will tend use them for key stories. But if they can get free photography there is a good chance you’ll get more page space devoted to your story. Try Perfocal to get some professional photos taken without all the usual fuss.
- Press kits, backgrounders and case studies. Similarly, some companies have pre-written case studies or story ideas available as well as detailed company backgrounds and so on. These are usually assembled into a printed press pack but I prefer it if I can download this information from the Internet so the best thing is to give people the option.
- Easy interviews. Be very available and responsive to interview requests and make sure you offer journalists the opportunity to interview people. It doesn’t have to always be the boss; I once did an interview with Tom Peter’s personal assistant for a travel article. Have a roster of people with interesting things to say and learn to give good press interviews.
- Avoid spokesbots. Be aware that formal 'media training' is a double-edged sword. Most journalists would rather cut off their own fingers than interview a wily, 'media trained' spokesrobot. On the other hand, it can give a good potential interviewee the confidence to do good interviews. It depends on what you want the media training to do - enable people to speak well on behalf of your company or have interviewees that are walking press releases.
- Customise the information. If you can give some thought to how you can give each magazine or paper a different story or a story that is more closely targeted to their audience, you’re more likely to get better coverage than if you have a ‘one-size fits all’ interview and press pack. As a journalist there’s nothing more dispiriting than interviewing someone and realising that they’re going to say the same thing to you that they said in every other interview they have ever given, regardless of the questions you ask.
- Listen. You’re trying to sell your story to them and the best way to sell anything is to shut up and listen occasionally. What story are they after? How can you help them?
- Branding. Sometimes it makes sense to co-ordinate PR activity with marketing activity like adverts (although be wary of trying to ‘buy’ coverage or being asked to do so). If you try to link all your PR, marketing and sales with a unifying brand and a consistent tone of voice, it will help.
- Become an authority. If you can become a spokesperson on an industry or a particular issue, you will be able to get more attention for your company. Becoming the chair of an industry body or speaking at conferences is a good way to do this. Most journalists have enormous lists of contacts so that they know who to talk to about certain things. Even if you don’t get coverage immediately, you may get a call out of the blue asking for a comment on a particular issue that you know about – but only if you’re on people’s lists!
This post was originally published years ago on Bad Language, the Articulate Marketing blog. I have updated it with new tips and links.