Paid media is a vital part of just about any PR or marketing plan, but what about increasing the opportunities for and effectiveness of organic media mentions? Is there a right way to go about getting valuable, earned media on a consistent basis? The answer is absolutely, yes, but it’s not simple, easy, or immediate. Creating that communications funnel takes time, discipline, and creativity.
Begin by becoming a reliable source for reporters, opinion makers, and influencers in the market that reaches the desired audience. When reporters and editors know they can depend on a source for timely, accurate, compelling content, they will come back for more. Begin supplying high-quality stories with no expectations. Let the media representatives know they can depend on good content being provided.
When they do reach out, respond as soon as possible. Never be late, because the opportunity is already gone. Be first as much as possible, because timeliness is as important as reliability in the news business. Deadlines are constant and, when they pass, their creative team is already working on the next story.
Get to the point. Reporters are not interested in content which should appear in the bottom paragraph being shoveled on top of the lede. There’s no time to sort through it. They want the most important facts first, preferably delivered with a well-crafted hook. Skip the boilerplate intros, cliché language, and impenetrable industry jargon. Write clear, crackling prose with emphasis on the main point and any key takeaways.
Speaking of jargon, just don’t. Unless the PR is specifically for an industry publication where jargon is both common and expected, write for the general public or the layperson with an interest in the topic. Don’t bury people in trade-speak, as clarity is important. Messages people can understand and will share are imperative. The sooner your audience understands what is being said, the more likely they are to respond with enthusiasm.
Craft a definitive message that shows the media contact exactly what sets the brand and its message apart from the stack of other entries in their inbox. Work on getting attention in a way that draws people in and builds rapport. This process begins before the first press release is sent. Connect with reporters and other influencers. Make brief introductions and, when possible, ask them what they’re looking for, as well as how and when they would like it to be delivered.
If possible, create exclusive stories or content for specific journalists or media influencers. Let them know this content was created specifically with them in mind and that it will remain exclusive, at least for a specific period of time. In the news business, even with all the changes to media in the digital age, first still matters.
Listen to what they have to say and follow the guidelines they set out. In many cases, these are coming from someone above them in their chain of command, and it does not help them when a source messes that up. Sources that create added frustration for a reporter should not expect to be the first one they call looking for a story.
Target the right reporters and influencers. Begin the relationship first, model dependability, punctuality, and accuracy. Keep it simple, keep it clear and compelling, and follow their guidelines. Do this consistently and earned media will happen more often.
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