Five tactics to consider when talking to the press
In our last blog, Why PR is important for your business, we looked at the merits of including Public Relations (PR) in your wider marketing strategy.
PR is all about managing how your business is perceived by the outside world and creating positive associations with your brand – be it through participating in local charitable events, favourable press stories or speaking publicly about an important issue or cause.
In this blog, we’re going to explore the different ways you can engage with the media. But first, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
1. PR can have a far greater impact as part of a wider programme, so make sure you consider you’re wider marketing approach and where PR might be able to add value. Be that a campaign on a particular topic, a new product launch or a push around a seasonal promotion.
This will ensure there’s consistency between what you’re saying in the media and your other marketing activities – and importantly links back to your business.
2. Think about the areas where you want to have a voice.
It must be something you’re in a position to talk about, that is of interest to your audience, and something you can bring a new and interesting point of view to. As a first step, try listening to your customer’s interests or talking to people on your social media platforms.
For example, if there’s a government announcement about apprentice funding for small businesses, you could become part of that conversation with a point of view on the topic, sharing your own training schemes as an example. This way, you’re part of the wider conversation, but you’re able to bring in your own personal experiences to add a different perspective to the story.
Different PR tactics
Having decided what you want to say, the next step is to consider how to get that message out. Here are the most common ways to engage with media.
A press release is one of the most common ways for a business to share official news with the media – this can be anything from a new research report to a product launch.
Journalists receive lots of press releases every day, so you need to make sure yours stands out. A good press release has a snappy headline to draw interest and clearly lays out the who, what, where and why. Keep them short and concise, one or two pages maximum. And think about including a quote from one of your directors to add an extra layer to the release.
A byline is an article written by a business for a publication. It’s an opportunity for you to share your expertise with a much wider audience.
Bylines are not adverts as they have to try to meet the interests or questions of the reader as opposed to focusing on your product or service. If we take the example of apprenticeships again, you could contribute an article on the value of upskilling the next generation of workforce. Most of the article would focus on this, but it gives you an opportunity to put your name out there and even draw attention to a particular service you offer.
When a news story first breaks, journalists are often on the lookout for trusted voices to comment and give them a slightly different angle. A rapid response is a statement you release about a news story that shares your views and insight.
Other than being a good way to gain widespread coverage, it helps build a relationship with reporters.
Let your choice as to whether or not to release a comment be guided by how relevant the story is to your business and expertise – not just because it’s a big story.
In fact, as a general rule, try to steer clear of commenting on negative stories – you don’t want to look like you’re trying to benefit from bad news.
Features are longer pieces that go deeper into a topic than your average news story and tend to be written by journalists.
Due to their large scope, the journalists that put them together are usually on the lookout for trusted voices and experts to comment or contribute to their story.
So you can offer to be an interviewee for a story, either by just offering a quote or contributing an entire section. Features give your business the opportunity to become a trusted voice on a much bigger stage.
Whether in person or virtual, events are a great way for the media to hear about a new product or announcement first-hand. Journalists get many invites to attend events, so think about how you can make your event feel exclusive and unmissable.
Start by writing a press pitch that is compelling and offers something extra for the journalist. Whether that’s leveraging one of your executives for a one-on-one chat during the event, giving them first access to the product or some of the content.
Events can help introduce your brand to the media and build relationships with journalists in your field.
All of the tips above take time and energy to achieve so don’t be afraid to seek external support if needed, even if it’s just to get you started. Talking to the right consultant who understands the market you’re in can help you to refine your PR goals and objectives and link your activities to your broader marketing strategy.