By Kristin Golliher, WildRock CEO & Founder
Recently we have received a fair share of questions around media relations—first what is it, and second, how on earth do I do it? Media relations is really about creating long-term, trustworthy relationships with those who produce news. When you send your message to the right person, at the right time and on a topic they care about, it can result in press coverage and help spread the word about your brand.
One of the best ways to generate buzz for your business is to send out a press release or a media pitch. If you’ve had success with this in the past then you know the biggest benefit to media relations is the coverage without the cost, no advertising is required. But the kicker to all of this is coverage will only come if your efforts are newsworthy.
So what’s the best way to decide if your media relations outreach effort is deemed “newsworthy?” Here are some helpful tips:
- Is it relevant? Not just to me, but to others?
- Is it important? Does it really matter in the big scheme of things?
- Is it timely? Does it tie in with what is going on locally, nationally or globally or a key holiday or event?
- Would my target market be interested?
- Does it have a human-interest angle?
John B. Bogart once said, “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.” Make sure you really evaluate the newsworthiness of your outreach efforts before contacting the media.
Press releases and media pitches are also two separate things—a press release is typically written in AP Style and is a longer synopsis of your news, and a pitch is a quick blurb that is a “hook” for the actual press release or supplementary information. If written correctly, elements from the press release or pitch can be taken and put directly into a story so you’ll want to take special care to produce a well-written press release and pitch. The best way to layout your press release is:
- Contact information at the top—name, title, email, phone and cell.
- Catchy headline.
- Location & date line in all caps, AP style abbreviation for all states (ex: FORT COLLINS, COLO.).
- All important information should be in the first paragraph.
- Body of the press release: short and sweet, remember to limit one idea per paragraph—Use AP Style (if you are unsure of this research online or buy the book).
- Quotes—only relevant, to the point quotes and punctuate properly “XXX,” said X, “XXX.”
- Continuing to another page? Use –more- at the end of page one, and at the end of your release, use ### to show that’s it’s finished.
- When you’re ready to wrap up, complete your press release with a summary and details on where people can find more like a website and/or phone number.
Sending to the right outlets and contacts is the other key consideration. Often, companies blast the media, but fail to research that individual or find out their news preferences. Think of how many junk emails they get a day! Having a former journalist on our team, we have quickly learned that research is king and by creating relevant media lists to share our messages with, we generate better results and more press coverage.
Media relations is a great tool for getting your message out there, but there’s also an art and science to crafting a relevant, newsworthy message and researching to find out who should receive it. Although it takes time, we promise the juice is worth the squeeze and so does Bill Gates, “If I was down to my last dollar I would spend it on PR.”