Public relations could be one of the best things you ever do for your brand. Whether your goals are to improve the public’s perception of your brand, build awareness or drive sales, public relations continues to be a relevant and important part of any brand’s marketing plan. PR isn’t all Samantha Jones, press releases and crisis communication – it’s about so much more – sharing the brand you love and believe in with people who it’ll resonate with long term.
If you’re a newbie to the PR world and looking for some tips and tricks to help your brand see success, read on!
Is traditional media still relevant?
It’s no secret that the media landscape has undergone a rapid transformation over the last decade with shrinking newsrooms and the emergence of the digital space, with social media becoming the go-to source for news for many.
With that in mind traditional media is still relevant depending on who your audience is. While younger generations like Millenials and Gen Z are more likely to consume their news via social media if you’re targeting older audiences many do still consume traditional media.
Other audiences that are often reachable through traditional media are people located in smaller markets that have regional papers and radio shows that cover local news only and as a result have a hyper locally, community focused reach. Niche lifestyle or trade publications are also still relevant for industries like food and wine, travel, fashion and beauty.
So to answer the question: yes, traditional media can be relevant for your brand, if your target audience is there.
The first thing to ask yourself when preparing a PR plan or media outreach is to decide if your story, angle or announcement is newsworthy. To figure out if it’s newsworthy you will respond yes to one or more of the questions below:
- What is the impact? How will this news affect readers’ lives? Why does this matter?
- Is it timely? Why are you sharing this NOW?
- Why are YOU sharing this? What gives you the authority/expertise to share this?
- Is this trending? – seasonal etc.
- Does this story matter to my brand’s audience?
- Is it unexpected / out of the ordinary / something different?
- Is there a conflict? Differing sides of an argument? Are you taking a stance?
- Is there human interest?
If one or more of these is relevant to the story you want to share then it’s a good indication that media might be interested!
Press release vs. targeted pitch
A press release is an official statement released by a brand sharing news, or an announcement directed specifically at the media, while a pitch targets specific media with a specific story idea or angle.
While both need to be newsworthy just because something newsworthy doesn’t mean you should ALWAYS send a press release.
Our recommendation is to opt for a pitch when you’re only trying to target a few specific people, when the angle is only relevant to a few people or a few outlets or when you’re hoping your brand will be included in a specific column.
Have a hook
If you want journalists and editors to read your press release or respond to your pitch the most important part is getting it in the hands of the right people!
Once you do get it in front of them you need to capture their attention immediately. You must have a hook, such as an informative and engaging subject line. Media receives so many emails each day so if they only read the headline or the first few sentences of your email can they get the gist?
Make your pitch interesting, informative and concise utilizing visuals where appropriate. Also always be clear with your ask – sometimes this is the only thing they’ll read!
Research and relationships
To target the right media you need to know who the right media is. Read and consume media of all forms (TV, newspapers, magazines, radio, podcasts) relevant to your brand’s industry, follow journalists and editors on social media and stay up to date on the news in general.
When you do start to build relationships with media, maintain those connections – stay in touch even when individuals move to different publications. Once you start to build your network ideally the media starts to come to you for things they’re working on. They become more responsive to pitches and press releases when you do send them and that personal connection can really go a long way.
Must have materials
When approaching the media there are a few things you should always have prepared in advance of sending outreach, including the following:
- High resolution photos and/or video that media has permission to use
- Headshots, bios and logos (if applicable)
- A spokesperson or a media trained individual ready to handle any interviews
- Clear, concise and approved key messaging
- A media kit providing background information about your brand
These are all items that media may (or may not) request, but are also tools to help share more information about your brand with media in hopes your key messages will make it into their piece.
There are no guarantees
Sometimes things will be of interest to media, and sometimes it won’t. Media relations is a long game and sometimes it can take time to land a story. There are also no guarantees of what media will print. Providing key messaging and a specific story angle can guide the media, supplement their research and support their work but they have no obligation to include it and they may take the story in a different direction.
Media coverage can also take on a life of its own as soon as it reaches the public, which is always something to keep in mind when deciding what you want to call attention to and actively pitch to media.
Be prepared for a crisis
‘All press is good press’ isn’t always true. When preparing PR plans or campaigns it’s always important to be prepared for a crisis or backlash. Depending on the complexity of your brand you may want to have a full crisis communication plan in place should the worst case scenario come about. The more prepared you are the easier it is to respond instead of react.
One of the most important parts of public relations is staying up to date with the news. You can’t understand media and understand what makes a good story if you aren’t consuming it regularly.
You should be consuming broadcast, online and print media including news that may be indirectly relevant to your brand and media that is directly relevant to your brand daily, weekly and monthly. It’ll help you identify trends, stay up to date with your competitors and get inspiration for campaigns and pitching opportunities.
To learn more about some of our successful PR campaigns here!