PR TIPS: HOW DO YOU ENSURE YOU APPEAR IN A STORY
So often at Seven Hills, we have clients who come to us because they see a story and say, “I should have been in there!” It’s inevitable–and it happens to almost everyone. Lots of people think of PR as a way to bring story ideas to reporters–and that’s part of it. But just as important is making sure that your company or brand is mentioned when it’s appropriate in other stories.
Let’s face facts: in order to ensure that you appeared in every relevant story would mean you’d need to have a psychic hotline directly to reporters on your beat. Not happening. But while it’s impossible to know everything every reporter is considering reporting about, we here at SHC follow a few principles to help maximize our clients’ chances of appearing in relevant stories.
- Knowledge of the landscape: The first thing you need to do is get a read on the media landscape for your industry (who writes about you) and monitor it. Set up Google alerts, put stuff in your reader, follow people on Twitter and ensure that you’re paying attention to what people are writing about so you can react when you need to.
- Introductions: We very often will do basic introductions of new clients to the reporters on their relevant beat when we first take them on or when there’s a relevant news event happening. We’re not always pitching a story: we’re just letting them know that if and when they’re writing on the topic, they should keep us in mind. This helps avoid those, “Why weren’t we in that story?” moments later on. Most times, you’re not there because the reporter doesn’t even know you exist!
- Joining listservs and monitoring social media: Everyone responsible for pitching media should be subscribing to HARO, probably the most popular place for journalists to put out calls for sources (and free!). You can also email relevant reporters and ask them to be added to their lists. Not all of them do this but many beat reporters will add good potential sources to blasts they send looking for sources on particular stories. Follow beat reporters on Twitter and keep tabs on relevant hashtags and search terms – reporters will often seek sources via social media.
- Following up after a miss: Got one of those stories you “should have” been in? Be sure to follow up with the reporter and introduce yourself. They won’t write the same story again, but if they’ve written on a topic once, chances are they’ll revisit in the future and it’s important to be top of mind.
- Shaping the message after an interview: When you finally do score that interview, part of the job of a good PR consultant is to do the relevant prep, arming you with the right messaging points, AND the relevant follow-ups, driving that messaging home with the reporter after an interview (when it’s not live of course). Getting across the right message is a large part of the value of appearing in a story. You can’t guarantee what a reporter will use, but with the right prep and good, relevant messaging you’re a big part of the way there!
We want to hear from you: what was that cringeworthy time that you realized you had missed out on a big press opportunity?