“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
You may not initially equate media relations with this age-old question, but there is a connection. If a company introduces a new product, service or initiative but doesn’t push this information out to the media, does it make an impact? The media can catapult companies into the spotlight with just one feature. Consider the “Oprah effect,” or the impact that being featured in Oprah Winfrey’s annual Oprah’s Favorite Things list has on brands. Through television and print coverage, Oprah helped give a big boost to companies like Ugg and Spanx.
Media coverage is crucial for both B2C and B2B brands because it gets their message in front of the right audience. Media coverage supports awareness building, thought leadership and lead generation. Consistent media coverage keeps brands top of mind and can help shape their presence as a credible and preferred organisation. So how do you go about securing great media coverage? Read on to learn how media relations software has made media pitching simpler and more organised – and why your organisation should invest in it, or partner with a firm that has these resources.
There is a seemingly endless number of media contacts around the globe, from freelance writers to established editorial staff members to television and radio programming directors to niche reporters covering specific beats. It can be overwhelming to find and organise these contacts without the help of PR tools like media relations software like Cision. This platform enables you to search by outlet, a media contact’s name, subject, geographic location and more. It also allows PR professionals to create lists of contacts sorted by vertical market, city or topic. For example, if you want to target reporters focused on the foodservice industry, located in Milwaukee, Wisc. or covering entertainment or sports, Cision makes this process incredibly easy.
Media relations software can also help you track mentions of your brand in the media so that you can quickly stay on top of news about your organisation. This will give you the opportunity to put out fires if the tone of the coverage is negative, and cross promote positive news on your company’s social media channels and internally to employees so they can further amplify the content.
Consider the following best practices for using media relations software:
While using trusted media relations software makes it easy to pinpoint a reporter’s current role, it’s important to do some Googling to be sure that the people you want to target would find your pitch relevant. Check on recent stories they’ve written via their publication’s online site and navigate to their Twitter or LinkedIn account to see what interests them and whether they’ve been furloughed or laid off, as has been common during the pandemic. It never hurts to spend extra time confirming that your media contacts still cover the same beat and publish new content regularly. You’ll save time in the long run by getting the first pitch to the right person.
Your pitches will have a better chance of winning coverage if you make them personal and pay special attention to the recipient. Sending out a mass e-mail pitch often prioritises quantity over quality in the hopes that someone will respond with interest in your story. Instead, take time to differentiate your pitches for different journalists. Consider emphasizing a local angle for TV, radio and newspaper outlets, and highlight ongoing trends for national business and consumer contacts.
In order for your pitch to land, you need to make sure that the outlet reaches the audience you’re speaking to. This is especially true for trade publications. For instance, there are many different outlets that cover the education industry, but only a select few target those who have purchasing influence over solutions for cleaning and maintenance. It would be a waste of time to pitch a publication that gears its content towards school music teachers, policy makers or researchers.
You’ll also want to confirm the outlet’s total reach. How many print subscribers and online monthly viewers does the publication have? If it’s a radio or television program, what is the anticipated level of exposure? You may be able to determine which outlet is a better fit for your pitch based on the intended reach.
If you’re trying to place a bylined article, make sure that the outlet accepts this kind of material. This will typically be listed in the outlet’s profile in the summary that also notes what the outlet covers and who it is intended for. Some outlets do not, others use a pay-to-play strategy that requires investing in advertising and still others favor carefully vetting a topic and author before agreeing to publish any of their work. If an outlet accepts bylined articles, be sure that your content is non-promotional and offers the reader insights into current trends and recommendations for overcoming key challenges.
It’s possible that some media contacts no longer cover the topic they once did, or even work for the same outlet. Or perhaps they’ve just determined that your company and the topics you’re interested in speaking about do not align with their storytelling. If they request to be removed from future emails from you, make sure you do not send them pitches again.
When you target relevant journalists with your company’s news, you increase your chances of securing coverage that will put your story in front of the right audience. While media relations can often feel like walking on a tightrope, striking the right balance with your strategy pays off when you are featured in an important trade publication, local news broadcast or online article in a Tier 1 outlet that reaches hundreds of thousands or even millions of readers. With the proper tools in place, your organization can execute a strong media relations plan that will help you build awareness and interest as well as drive leads.
Trying to crack into a specific market or publication but need further direction on where to start? Contact Mulberry today to learn how we can help you build a public relations and media relations strategy that will increase exposure for your brand.
Jess Messenger is an Account Director at Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Australia. She enjoys developing PR campaign strategies and writing for B2B audiences across numerous verticals such as retail, foodservice and healthcare.