6 Tricks PR Professionals Use to Get Press
If you can’t tell a good story, you won’t get results. Here’s how to ensure you find success with your PR efforts.
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Need some tools and tricks to promote your brand with PR? Here are some of the methods I’ve used to be more successful with PR strategy, execution, and results.
1. Direct Outreach Beats A Press Release
If you’re after traditional media attention, you’ve probably considered publishing a press release. For branding, press releases offer value. But I’ve never seen significant media coverage result solely from a wire service. If you want coverage, nothing will beat personalized pitches to relevant journalists.
Google news and tools like Muck Rack will help you find who’s interested in stories like yours. Once you have a list of people to contact. Send each person a short, to the point message explaining why your story is relevant to their audience. Check out this article how to get press for more detailed ways of finding and contacting journalists.
2. Use the tool, “Help A Reporter Out”
Help A Reporter Out – HARO is a helpful free tool that reverses the pitching process. Instead of pitching a story to journalists; HARO gives you a list of journalists working on stories.
As a writer, this tool makes my life easier. Instead of calling around for sources to quote, I send HARO a description of the source I need, and the request goes out to their email list. These topic sorted requests are sent three times a day.
Example – A reporter wants to interview a California lawyer versed in gun laws. HARO sends out the request for that expert in their email. The expert can respond directly to the reporter. Requests run the gamut; I just saw queries looking for women dating younger men, body language experts, interior designers and men who’d like to go on a makeover show. So HARO really can help promote anything.
3. Leverage Op-ed’s and Guest Posts
If you’re a good writer (or like me an okay writer willing to work to craft something worth publishing), guest posting is a fantastic promotional tool. While I dabble in PR, my job is largely product focused.
To better brand myself, I wrote an article for VentureBeat explaining my favorite method for user testing. Writing the article was easier than convincing someone to interview me, and the op-ed probably has greater branding value.
It takes work to create and pitch your thoughts this way and odds are you’ll get a few rejections. But if you’re serious keep trying, it’s worth it. Even the Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman had op-eds rejected. You’re surely less established and likely don’t write at Friedman’s level, So when rejection happens, evaluate what you’re doing and try again.
4. Tie Into A News Cycle AKA Newsjacking
“My product is awesome” or worse “I’m awesome” aren’t stories of general interest. Meaning those aren’t things most media will cover. Even if you get some attention, stories like this offer little value in promoting your brand. So tie into a news cycle and become part of a real story.
The Brand Example – Following the Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage Ben & Jerry’s temporarily re-branded Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream to I Dough, I Dough. Ben & Jerry’s landed in nearly every U.S. news outlet as a result.
The Publisher Example – Market Watch published seven management lessons from ‘The Walking Dead’. It’s a real article about a boring topic, but the tie to the hit TV show made it more engaging and shareable. Note this tactic if you try guest posting.
5. Take Advantage Of Fear Of Missing Out
If you’re doing something, people will read, watch or otherwise click you can capitalize on publishers fear of missing out. As this article explains, The fear of missing out (FOMO) is universal and is a staple tactic in market messaging. Think about it, who wants to be the only kid in class not invited to a party? That’s the reason no news editor wants to be the only place ignoring a trending story.
If you aren’t a known commodity, you’ll need social proof to pull this off. Dollar Shave Club received a rare amount of media attention (almost unheard of) for a startup. The reason was a case study in growth hacking. While I wasn’t behind the scenes, I have an educated guess as to what happened.
Dollar Shave Club used social seeding and ads to create the beginnings of a viral trend. After a million views in 24 hours, some friendly reporters and a press release are all it took to give the video viral legs. Any news outlet covering that kind of story wanted to catch the trend.
The result of media outlets afraid of missing a trending topic made the growth hack into a real viral hit. The video now has over 24 Million Views by my most liberal of estimates Dollar Shave Club paid for fewer than 4 million views. The shave club was so successful that they became a trend others newsjacked. Grammy-winning band Train & the ultimate parody Dollar Beard Club used the format for the extra bit of newsworthiness.
6. Look Beyond Mainstream Media
Public relations isn’t only press relations. We live in an age of micro-celebrities and bloggers with highly relevant audiences. If I’m seeking press in Dallas, I (and everyone else) want in The Dallas Morning News with its massive readership and history. However, publications with an assigned seat at the White House are hard to earn. That’s why influencers and smaller blogs can be great.
If promoting a Dallas event outside of mainstream interest, I’d reach out to the blog ILiveInDallas.com and a half dozen other independent blogs and influencers. It’s possible, even likely that if four or five smaller outlets cover a story the fear of missing out will help land mainstream press.
The same goes for niche media outlets. Not long ago I was the technical marketing guy and occasional writer for a large enterprise tech news site. We covered a lot of stories that don’t belong in USA Today or People Magazine. The site got hundreds of thousands of readers because people read the news that affects their job.
Time to start…
This isn’t a list of every trick or strategy to land press and promote your brand, but It’s a good start. However, the core of public relations is good storytelling. You can target journalists with ads until they’re afraid of looking at Twitter, but if you can’t tell a good story, you won’t get results.
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