As we wrap up 2019, it’s time to evaluate what public relations plans and approaches have brought the desired results, for both internal and external clients. It’s also the perfect time to consider incorporating new tactics into 2020 strategic communications plans.
The press release continues to be a strong asset in any PR practitioner’s toolkit. In Cision’s 2019 Global State of the Media Report, more than 70% of journalists said they wanted to receive content from brands in the form of press releases and news announcements.
But the news release is just one tactic available to the PR pro. Here are four additional methods to reach and engage with journalists, bloggers and influencers.
Op/Ed Columns and Letters to the Editor
While the Opinion section of the local newspaper isn’t a great fit to announce a product launch or similar announcements, it can be the ideal section to share news about a company’s corporate social responsibility programs or the thought leadership or expertise of company management in a particular field or industry.
If a company is involved with a local nonprofit community partner, either through a volunteer project or making a donation, reach out to the partner to see if they would be willing to work together to draft and submit a letter to the editor to the local paper about the partnership. This works especially well if it includes a call to action to members of the community, such as signing up to volunteer or donating to the cause.
For Letters to the Editor and bylined columns, many publications post specific submissions guidelines, such as desired word count and acceptable formats. Be sure to check the guidelines so your content has the highest possible chance of making it to publication.
Research when local broadcast outlets — i.e. television and radio stations — in the target market tape “sit-down” interview segments. Keep in mind that the show’s guest bookers and producers may plan their interview schedules weeks or even months in advance.
Also consider trying to get an interview segment set up for a Saturday or Sunday. Many local news stations have weekend morning shows, and producers are often looking for fresh, new content to include during this slower news cycle.
Online and Social Media Only Content
Most local news outlets — daily newspapers, weekly or monthly community newspapers, magazines and television and radio stations — have their own websites and social media pages these days, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
In mid-sized to large markets, there is typically a staff member or a digital content team tasked with making sure the outlet’s website and social media feeds are updated consistently. Make it a point to reach out to these contacts as well as the usual assignment desk and newsroom contacts. One way to help generate coverage is to tweak pitches so they are targeted specifically to those digital platforms; your client’s news may not make it onto the more traditional platforms, but you’ll still get coverage for your client.
Sometimes you have a great pitch with a compelling narrative and strong visual elements, you’ve reached out to the key reporter or media contacts and gotten some interest — but then forces beyond your control, like breaking news, prevent the coverage from actually coming to fruition.
Although your original pitch, like a new business or store opening, might lose its timeliness and relevance quickly, consider what other elements you could add to a future follow-up pitch to still capture the media’s attention.
Using the example of a new business or store opening, stay in touch with the store management or your client to ask questions and find out how the first few weeks and months of operation are going. Did employees see anything surprising in sales patterns or reactions from local customers to the new store or business? Are there any interesting or noteworthy metrics about operations? Business reporters in particular tend to appreciate numbers and data they can build stories around.
Invite the reporter to meet you at the new location for a personal tour. Use the opportunity, or any additional newsworthy info, to craft a follow-up pitch.
Happy pitching, everyone!