PR for Beginners – media relations

So, you are launching a new business or product and you want to know how to get some press coverage. How to begin?

The objective of pro-active media relations is to reach your target audience by persuading journalists (primarily) that you or your product are interesting enough to write about. Ultimately that decision is down to the journalist, but through a planned and well-thought out PR strategy you can increase your chances of positive press coverage.

Before starting, you need to have an excellent understanding of your product or service and why it is needed, who your target audience is and what media they read/watch so you know which journalists to target. You also need to understand where you are positioned versus your competitors and the strengths and weaknesses of your proposition.

A media relations campaign can take many different forms and experienced PR people know how to put together the right messages and mix of tactics to achieve the desired result amongst the right media. They will also know the media environment inside and out and crucial details such as press deadlines, different columns or feature opportunities that exist, journalist interests and how to pitch different stories to different media outlets.

Some of the main media relations tactics include:

  • News announcements: The humble press release still has a place in the brave new world of social-media, but whether you use a press release, Twitter, or any other channel, the fundamental need for companies to distribute news to journalists still applies. Corporate news can include for example new products, extension into new markets, award wins, senior hires, new office openings and major contract wins.
  • Opinion-pieces or commentary: it’s fine to put out company announcements, but if you really want to make an impact in the media and increase your profile, you need to have something interesting to say about the market on an ongoing basis – to be a thought leader in your industry. Pitch advice pieces on topics where you have expertise. Or, think about the challenges that your customers are facing – do you feel strongly enough to take a stand on an issue (and stick to it) or to campaign for change? Journalists love spokespeople who are knowledgeable and candid enough to debate the issues of the day.
  • Media briefings: there’s no substitute for getting in front of a journalist to build up a proper relationship. But before you think it’s all boozy lunches and 4pm returns to the office, be aware that the media world has changed! Publications are under-resourced and under pressure to steal a march on their competitors – you need to offer them a compelling reason for them to meet up.
  • Profile interviews: a number of publications carry full page or even double page spread interviews where Managing Directors or CEOs are interviewed about their company and plans. These can be really positive opportunities, but like all other approaches to the media they need a strong pitch and a reason for them to cover it.

These pointers only scratch the surface of what media relations can do for an organisation. Our advice? Speak to an expert about what media relations can offer you and how you could get the best from a pro-active media campaign.

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