Are you resigned to just sit back and wait for the onslaught of reporters, eager to speak with you?
Here’s what most reporters will tell you: “If we’re interested, we’ll call you.” Here’s what they have told me off the record. “Seriously, I get hundreds of emails a day. If I don’t expect the email, I may not read it. If the subject is boring or off topic, I may delete it. If you really want my attention, you better follow up via phone.”
So, editor and reporter generalizations aside, simply posting your release to an online service is not enough. Yes, you may get search engine optimization (SEO) benefit from the online services. They do a great job with their website affiliates. They report several website postings within the first hour. But, if there is no one looking at that forest when your tree falls, you are out of luck. Like website traffic, it’s all about conversion. Campaign effectiveness can and should, ultimately be measured by conversion. Conversion is anything from inbound phone calls, requests for information, actually sales, etc. The measurements are the same for tradeshows, SEO, direct mail marketing and yes, even sales calls in person.
Let’s rewind and discuss goals. If you are trying to influence a target market and you have identified the publications they read, visit and engage with, then you are 25% there. Start with the publication’s media kit, editorial calendar and audit statement. Study the research and see if your news, product or story fits their editorial guidelines. Each publication has a certain style, editorial direction and differentiating factors. Not sure what they are? Call the editor and they will be happy to explain. See, no one takes the time to ask them. This alone will separate you from the pack. We’ll dive deeper into publication research in a subsequent post. You are closer now, 50% of the way there.
But, you now need to present that news in a way that they will both understand its importance AND see a fit with their readers. This is a tough hurdle but will get you 75% of the way to your goal. You’ve studied the editorial direction. Look closely at the stories the magazine has run over the last two years. Make special note of specific writers and their style and try to align your story with one that is closest to your topic. Not every writer covers the same beat. Consider using graphics, videos, social media infographics; anything that will simply and succinctly convey your message.
What’s the final push needed to move your project to 100% acceptance? It’s the relationship. If the editor has never heard of your company, met anyone at a trade conference or even received news in the past, you have a tough final step. Not insurmountably, just tough. Like sales, the media/company interaction is all about relationships. Remember the professional call asking about their editorial guidelines? That is the step in the right direction. Be a resource and selfless supporter first.
In my next post, I’ll discuss the top five ways to build closer media relations and become their go-to person.