Public Relations - Partnering with the Media
By Betty Uribe, Ed.D.
Getting highlighted in the news builds more than awareness for your business, it builds your brand’s reputation. More than advertising, media coverage confers legitimacy and prestige upon your company and your products—through third party endorsements. When your customers or potential customers see you on TV or your company highlighted in the local paper, this notoriety increases your company’s credibility and perceived value in their eyes.
Although partnering with the media can turn out to be one of the best ways to get your message out to the public, most entrepreneurs are either too busy, or don’t really understand how to partner properly with the media.
Business owners must take the right approach and target story ideas (also known as pitches in the PR world) to the appropriate media outlets and reporters.
To find the right media for your pitch, do research and find reporters who cover topics and issues related to your industry. It is important to read their stories and get a feel for what angles or subjects may interest them. These days, you can also get to know a reporter better by following them and what they say on their social media outlets including Twitter, LinkedIn and in some cases even Facebook. The ultimate goal is to become a reliable news source media can count on for quotes, background information, opinions and breaking news. It is important to react quickly when they do call.
Take the time to make a strong and compelling approach to reporters, editors and other media sources. From a media perspective, reporters and editors are more accessible than ever due to social media and the public can find readily available email addresses listed in online articles; as a result, they are inundated with calls and tweets from companies hoping to promote their products.
Make the Approach Count
Here are a few basics to remember when contacting journalists:
Step One: Tailor Your Message. Read the publication that your prospects regularly read, find the right reporter and create a unique pitch. Demonstrate that you know the publication and the reporter by showing interest in recent articles covering similar topics. It is also a great idea to follow them on social media and engage with them before you send a pitch.
Step Two: Make the Reporter's Job Easier. Show the reporter how your product, service or news fits into their target audience, makes news and/or is part of a trend. Help them understand your business situation and how it is marketable and relevant to a broad audience.
Step Three: Provide Interviews or Case Studies. A great story is newsworthy and has depth and balance. Ask who their target audience is and offer to set up interviews with customers or provide case studies that will add value to their story. If you can provide a reporter with the information they need ahead of time, you will make their lives easier while increasing your chances of success.
Step Four: Save the Attachments for Later. Include all pertinent information in the body of the email and do not include attachments. An interested reporter will request additional materials later.
Step Five: React quickly. Know that reporters are always on a tight timeline. Make sure your staff knows to interrupt you if a reporter is on the line; otherwise the reporter may call your competitor who may be available sooner than you.
Even if you don't have compelling news to share, you can become a valuable contact for the media. Reporters need sources who can provide information, reactions or opinions about the topics they cover. For example, if your company manufactures replacement windows, a reporter may be able to use you for information on housing trends or the renovation and rehabilitation market. The relationship you establish with a reporter today could equate to valuable press coverage down the road.
Betty Uribe, Ed.D., is an Executive Vice President of California Bank & Trust, which has launched a financing initiative aimed at minority and women-owned businesses in California called TEAM (Tools, Education, Access and Mentoring). For more information, please visit http://www.calbanktrust.com/team. You can also follow CB&T on Twitter: @calbanktrust or ‘like’ them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/calbanktrust.