How to ensure PR success
12 October 2018 | Business
1. Direct outreach beats a press release
If you’re after traditional media attention, you’ve probably considered publishing a press release. For branding, press releases offer value. But I’ve never seen significant media coverage result solely from a wire service. If you want coverage, nothing will beat personalised pitches to relevant journalists.
Google news and tools like Muck Rack will help you find who’s interested in stories like yours. Once you have a list of people to contact. Send each person a short to the point message explaining why your story is relevant to their audience.
2. Use Help a Reporter Out
Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is a helpful free tool that reverses the pitching process. Instead of pitching a story to journalists; HARO gives you a list of journalists working on stories.
As a writer, this tool makes my life easier. Instead of calling around for sources to quote, I send HARO a description of the source I need, and the request goes out to their email list. These topic sorted requests are sent three times a day. HARO can really can help promote anything.
3. Leverage op-eds and guest posts
If you’re a good writer (or like me an okay writer willing to work to craft something worth publishing), guest posting is a fantastic promotional tool. While I dabble in PR, my job is largely product focused.
To better brand myself, I wrote an article for VentureBeat explaining my favourite method for user testing. Writing the article was easier than convincing someone to interview me, and the op-ed probably has greater branding value.
It takes work to create and pitch your thoughts this way and odds are you’ll get a few rejections. But if you’re serious keep trying, it’s worth it. Even Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman had op-eds rejected. You’re surely less established and likely don’t write at Friedman’s level, so when rejection happens, evaluate what you’re doing and try again.
4. Tie into a news cycle
“My product is awesome” or worse “I’m awesome” aren’t stories of general interest. Meaning those aren’t things most media will cover. Even if you get some attention, stories like this offer little value in promoting your brand. So tie into a news cycle and become part of a real story.
5. Take advantage of fear of missing out
If you’re doing something, people will read, watch or click, you can capitalise on a publisher’s fear of missing out. As this article explains, the fear of missing out (FOMO) is universal and is a staple tactic in market messaging. Think about it: who wants to be the only kid in class not invited to a party? That’s the reason no news editor wants to be the only place ignoring a trending story.
If you aren’t a known commodity, you’ll need social proof to pull this off. Dollar Shave Club received a rare amount of media attention (almost unheard of) for a start-up. The reason was a case study in growth hacking. While I wasn’t behind the scenes, I have an educated guess as to what happened.
Dollar Shave Club used social seeding and ads to create the beginnings of a viral trend. After a million views in 24 hours, some friendly reporters and a press release are all it took to give the video viral legs. Any news outlet covering that kind of story wanted to catch the trend.
The result of media outlets afraid of missing a trending topic made the growth hack into a real viral hit. The video now has over 24 million views, and by my most liberal of estimates, Dollar Shave Club paid for fewer than 4 million views. The shave club was so successful that they became a trend others newsjacked. Grammy-winning band Train & the ultimate parody Dollar Beard Club used the format for the extra bit of newsworthiness.
6. Look beyond mainstream media
Public relations isn’t only press relations. We live in an age of micro-celebrities and bloggers with highly relevant audiences. If I’m seeking press in Dallas, I (and everyone else) want to be on The Dallas Morning News, with its massive readership and history. However, publications with an assigned seat at the White House are hard to earn. That’s why influencers and smaller blogs can be great.
If promoting a Dallas event outside of mainstream interest, I’d reach out to the blog ILiveInDallas.com and a half dozen other independent blogs and influencers. It’s possible, even likely that if four or five smaller outlets cover a story the fear of missing out will help land mainstream press.
Time to start…
This isn’t a list of every trick or strategy to land media and promote your brand, but it’s a good start. However, the core of public relations is good storytelling. You can target journalists with ads until they’re afraid of looking at Twitter, but if you can’t tell a good story, you won’t get results.
*This article was first published on socialmediaweek.org