Last summer, I moderated the PR panel at the Get Social Conference in OKC (Oklahoma City for the uninitiated). The conversation turned quickly to How do I Get Media Coverage? Panelists were Dave Rhea from the statewide Journal Record newspaper, Andrew Speno from Fox25 News in OKC and Mike Koehler, blogger, PR pro and former reporter. Here are some of their PR pearls of wisdom:
1.) Don’t suck. Pretty simple, but powerful when you think about it. Don’t be a user… don’t lie… don’t spam… don’t be disrespectful. Don’t pitch news that isn’t news. If you’re in PR, you know what I’m talking about, whether or not you are following the advice. If you’re not in PR, what I mean is be human first. You need to reach out and interest another human in your story if you want it covered, and that means it needs to be interesting to other humans. And that you need to respect the time and attention of the media people you’re trying to reach.
2.) Write well. Headlines matter… and if you’re e-mailing, that means the subject line of your e-mail should be something OTHER than “News Advisory!” or “MEDIA ALERT!!!!” Special note: multiple exclamation points don’t make your news more newsworthy, they just make you seem desperate.
3.) Think about timing. Andew suggested having your press conference or announcement on Sunday afternoon. Stations spend all day Sunday scrambling to fill the same broadcast time they have to fill on Friday night. Mike mentioned a situation where a local group sponsoring a tournament wanted coverage… the same day as a major OU/OSU game, a draft and a coaching scandal. Obviously, some things are beyond control and cannot be planned for, but not planning your little league coaches awards ceremony on the same day as college football season kicks off will help your chances.
4.) Think about angles. Is something happening RIGHT NOW that you can add to, build on, be an expert for? For instance, as snow blankets Oklahoma, again, and people go into bunker mode, again, are you a mental health professional who can speak to the real aspects of “cabin fever” and how to help? Recognize that “Mental Health Service Adds Dr. X to Lineup” isn’t really interesting beyond anyone in Dr. X’s family. Dr. X talking about cabin fever, however, is timely, relevant, and his (new) affiliation with your practice will certainly be in the story.
5.) Don’t always be selling. Be the person who’s always available, always good for a quote, or for an honest attempt to help source a story. Coming through for reporters means you get on their “people who don’t annoy me” list and you are much more likely to get their attention when you need it.
Dave Rhea summed it up this way: Be Real and Don’t Be Boring. Pretty succinct, I think.
In my opinion, here’s what small business owners should do, first, to start this process: Use the search functions in social media and find and follow every individual in their respective niche or local markets. Listen to and read what they tweet or share. Get to know them (that whole Be Real and Don’t Suck part mentioned above) and what makes them tick. Every reporter or blogger has trigger subjects… things they’re passionate about. Find out what they are. Re-share relevant information. I did a radio interview on this subject, and using social media to help achieve better PR, available here, if you wanna give it a listen for more info.
Using social media to achieve better PR results isn’t fundamentally different… it’s a connection engine that helps you find and then build relationships with media contacts. In the end, good public relations is still about relationships. Social media can help you build them more quickly and nurture them more easily.
There’s only 5 things on this list… anything you think is missing from our Don’t Be Ignored list?
(A version of this post was originally posted over at The Journal Record’s blog hub but this a topic I’ve been seeing a lot lately, so wanted to re-share with the audience over here… plus, some updates/edits have been made to this version. — Mandy)