Who’s in charge of media coverage?
Journalists, reporters, bloggers, influencers, search engines, social media, and – most importantly – brands (that’s you).
There was a time in the not so distant past when journalists were the primary gatekeepers between brands and media coverage. Pitching the media with a press release or holding a press conference was a chance for a headline.
Remember when spamming out multiple online press releases was considered SEO?
Then came the days when your Facebook Page spawned coverage in the news feed and notified all of your followers, regardless of what you posted.
In some ways, public relations (PR) has not changed. But in many ways, PR is a whole new ball game.
Brands and marketers have more influence and opportunity for exposure than ever!
Journalists don’t hold the only set of keys to publicity; it’s now a mixed bag of strategies and tricks. The formulas and templates are fluid and still evolving.
From Flyers & Posters to Google & Facebook
There was about a 100-year period from the time public relations first started that not much changed. PR bureaus began in the early 1900s with the intent of influencing the public opinion on politics and other issues.
“The three main elements of public relations are practically as old as society: informing people, persuading people, or integrating people with people,” according to Edward Bernays, one of the pioneers of PR.
Today we’re still informing, persuading, and integrating using a blend of old school meets new age search and social.
The days of reporters clinging to wire services for story ideas and Google ranking press releases stuffed with keywords are long gone.
Here are the days of massive opportunity and saturation.
Old School PR Tips for Media Coverage
Anyone can jump in the marketing and PR game.
Fire up a Facebook page, set up a Twitter account, and start a blog. No college degree needed.
Unwinding back to traditional best practices, and the art of pitching and building relationships, is still an essential factor in the media coverage success formula.
1. Pitch A Story
Breaking through the clutter of the inbox or DM of a journalist, blogger, or influencer isn’t easy, but it is possible.
Remember, you are potentially making their life easier by offering resources for them to make their job easier.
Make sure you have studied the competitive landscape and know what stories and posts are online and have been published in the past.
Do a Google search, social search, hashtag search, and a search on the online publications to see what stories similar to your idea have been covered.
You can’t just pitch an idea without having tons of backup data, stats, third-party analysis to help support your story idea.
Know your audience and the media’s audience.
Read past articles from the author/journalist. Look at the previous posts of the influencer.
Be able to have a conversation about whom you are pitching and the audience they write for or serve. Be prepared to talk about the audience like it’s your best friend and a real person. The buyer persona!
Did you identify your best angle? Better yet did you provide multiple angles?
Be OK with being inspiring versus right. Your angle can inspire and lead to the reporter’s angle and still involve you. Egos aside here.
6. Subject Line
The first impression and most important element to get your pitch read. Not only is it essential to get the pitch read, but it’s also important to get the pitch found again when searching an inbox. Use keywords in your subject line that will help the reporter (or anyone you are emailing) find your email later.
Reporters and journalists may not respond right away to emails, but they are notorious for hoarding good email pitches for future use. Some journalists have been known to have an inbox with more than a million old emails they have saved. Make sure you use keywords to make it easy for someone to go back and find a past email.
Social PR Secret: “A subject line is not only important to get a person’s attention, but it’s also essential later for the search functionality,” said Aliza Licht, author of Leave Your Mark and marketing and communications executive in the fashion industry. “Always make it easy for someone to find your email that is in the treacherous sea that is his/her inbox.”
Spoiler Alert: Don’t spoil the pitch by giving it away in the subject line. Putting everything in the subject line gives the reader no reason to open your email, Licht said.
Always be sure to customize and personalize the content.
Ending group emails or having the “Fwd” in the subject is out. Nobody likes the feeling of being one of the masses. Everyone wants to feel like the one and only.
Later isn’t better. Early wins the attention.
A Business Wire survey notes the best time to pitch the media is in the morning:
- 61 percent of reporters prefer pitches in the morning.
- 30 percent in the afternoon.
- 9 percent in the evening.
- Tuesdays are the most popular day to pitch the media in general.
Being at the top of anyone’s inbox first thing in the morning drastically increases the chances of getting read and possible action taken. (Disclaimer: If you are pitching a media newcomer or younger person, morning is the worst time to pitch while afternoon or evening is the best!)
Social PR Secret: Craft your emails ahead of time and schedule them to go out at 8 a.m. using Boomerang or HubSpot. You might start your day with a high response rate.
Nobody wants to open an email and get a huge block of text without bullets, paragraph spacing, or returns. Long emails do not win the race.
Keep the email short, to the point and be mindful of using white space well with bullets, spacing, font size, emojis, photos and end the message with a call to action.
Pitches need to be short and sweet. Period.
10. Style & Tone
Aggressive and serious or funny and playful? Humor and authenticity go a long way but stay professional and appropriate.
You can get a good read by following your audience on Twitter or another social channel to get the personality vibe.
While press releases are no longer faxed and mailed as a best practice, a Cision survey found that 92 percent of journalists and influencers prefer email pitches.
12. Email Address
AOL? Yahoo? Hotmail? Earthlink? Let’s get legit.
You may lose credibility using those old-school email addresses notorious for spam. Make sure you have a legitimate and well-branded email address.
If it’s Gmail, make sure it’s your name, such as YourName@gmail.com. If it doesn’t have your name, make sure it’s associated with a brand domain. Info@ or asst@ will decrease your chances of credibility and increase your chances for deletion.
Can you give them an exclusive? Or an exclusive angle?
“People love the word ‘exclusive’ because they love knowing that they’re getting special content,” Licht said. “Of course if you are using the word ‘exclusive,’ what you are giving them or telling them better be exclusive.”
Follow up and stalking – “Did you get my email?” “Just following up on the email.” You can know if someone opened an email using tools such as Hubspot Sales and the Streak app can give you that info.
It’s always best to follow up a few days later – just realize that “no response” may be the response.
The Art of Search, Social, & Media Coverage
According to PWR’s 2018 Journalist Survey, 83 percent of journalists use search engines when researching a story or article. Facebook is the primary social media platform journalists use when working on a story followed by Twitter and LinkedIn.
14. Press Releases Still Work, But…
It’s less about quantity and more about quality, storytelling, newsworthiness, relevance, visuals, data, and video.
Up to 84 percent journalists prefer press releases loaded with transferrable assets – such as images, videos, graphics – which they can grab and reuse online and in print or broadcast.
15. PR Optimization
Supporting facts and strong headlines are top considerations and photos are the most important supplement a press release can have.
Making sure your headline and body have relevant keywords to have a higher chance of getting picked up in Google searches in the future.
Paying close attention to Google best practices with links in press releases and being mindful you are writing for humans and not just for search engines.
16. Online Newsrooms
The hub of your brand news including press releases, media coverage, industry reports, social media streams, company blog, events, and leadership info is the brand’s online newsroom.
TEKGROUP’s 2018 Online Newsroom Survey Report (note: download required) found that 75 percent of journalists refer to an online newsroom when researching an organization (small and large). But a newsroom isn’t just for journalists anymore.
Online newsrooms serve as a content-rich portion of a company website that is visited by prospects, investors, decision makers, influencers, and your customers.
The top things expected in an online newsroom to help get more media coverage include:
- PR contact info (if they can’t contact you, they can’t cover you!)
- Search capability
- Email alerts for news (or more savvy and intuitive media relations chatbots using Messenger)
- Event calendars
- Linked social media sites
- Company background history
- Executive bios
Social PR Secret: How about adding a Facebook Messenger chatbot to your online newsroom for immediate communication? Now your chatbot is the new media relations hero! Chatbot PR Alerts!
17. Twitter Lists
Twitter is not only where journalists flock for news and story sources; it has also had somewhat of a “presidential” effect. More and more media relations and networking are happening on Twitter.
Journalists and newscasters are expected to be building a personal following on social for added reach, so interacting on Twitter is where media coverage can begin.
Create private Twitter lists for your targeted media, journalists, writers, and influencers and set up a system to monitor and share their content when it makes sense.
Turning on the social video channel – live video on social media – is the latest trend that is nothing to joke about or miss.
Facebook Live, Facebook Watch, Twitter Live video, and Instagram’s latest IGTV are all opportunities for brand’s to engage with their audience.
Video content is thumb stopping. GlobalWebIndex data indicates that nearly 30 percent of internet users have watched a live stream on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
So it isn’t all about social.
Video will make up 82 percent of all internet traffic in 2021, according to Cisco.
IGTV is Instagram’s new app for watching long-form, vertical video. Brands like Cheddar, BuzzFeed, and Tastemade are crushing it.
However, you don’t need to be a big brand to create your own media coverage with IGTV. All you need is a smartphone, Instagram, and a strategy.
Brands and marketers have what seems like an infinite number of ways to stir up positive media coverage using old and new ways.
The trick is standing out in the clutters whether it’s the inbox or IGTV channel, you are in the director’s chair.
More PR, SEO & Social Media Marketing Resources:
- Why PR Is Crucial to SEO & 11 Ways to Get Coverage
- How to Connect Your Content to What Journalists Want for Top-Tier Links
- 6 Content Strategies to Boost Your Digital PR & Link Building Success
Featured Image: Tracy Thomas/Unsplash