How do you go about securing quality press and links on a mass scale with a limited budget? This is a common challenge facing many SMEs, and stressing PR managers out across the industry and one that we'll tackle in the latest installment of our #UnpickingPR series.
We were at Brighton SEO at the end of April and heard some invaluable fresh approaches, new ideas and fascinating insight from thought leaders across the industry (including our very own Guy Levine).
The earned media team were particularly interested in the talk from Corrine Card, co-founder of Full Story Media. As a former national news journalist, she has been on both sides of the story, so knows what it takes to secure that all-important coverage.
Here are the top four things you can do to get awesome press links for SMEs:
Understand Your Audience’s Perspective
In order to get coverage for your story, you have to think about who is both publishing it and who will then be consuming it.
One infamous example of perspective being sorely neglected is last year’s Pepsi ad, which saw the brand ridiculed for painting Kendall Jenner as a social warrior when, in fact, the story they told came off as ridiculing the Black Lives Matter campaign was deeply offensive.
Another case in point is Nikon asking the 'world’s best photographers' to try out their new camera – and they were all male! The brand did itself damage by neglecting a huge segment of their demographic.
When tailoring your story to your audience, renowned social psychologist Adam Galinsky said: “When I take your perspective, and I think about what you really want, you’re much more likely to give me what I really want.”
Journalists want stories which are newsworthy, suitable for their readership and ready to publish, while consumers just wish to see their personal stories reflected in the press.
Use any Available Resources (many are free)
It doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive to obtain coverage opportunities. Here are six methods you can use:
- Pictures can tell a thousand words. Journalists always want photos to bring a story to life. Contact the newsdesk of a local paper for details of cheap freelancers; they’ve already done the research and will have a database they’ll happily recommend.
- Get website visitors/social followers to send you photos, e.g. for a selfie competition, or of them wearing your products.
- Take high-quality photos of your product to submit to gift guides. Both online and offline press constantly publish these types of features.
- It is worth investing in Response Source and making use of their forward features section for details of journalists currently looking for stories. If this is out of your budget, you can still reach out to journalists to ask for their current forward features list.
- Follow the #journorequests hashtag on Twitter
- Receive the free Help a Reporter Out (HARO ) email.
Just remember that the cheaper the source of journalist requests, the more competition there will be. You'll have to become a whizz at responding to press queries quickly and effectively.
Be first to respond and you are effectively first in the queue to get your story published, potentially over hundreds of other PRs.
Of course, you need to make sure that your speedy response still makes an impact (more on that in the final section).
Predict the Future!
Sometimes, even better than waiting for requests, is knowing what journalists will want before they even tell you.
- Find details of upcoming events and awareness days online, giving you ways to target journalists with related content in advance of them looking for it. Use these days to inform an editorial calendar. Look for the lesser-known events and you can hone in on the niches relevant to your industry.
- You will need to know the press around your industry and your consumers’ needs inside out, so make sure you are constantly reading anything and everything related.
- Look out for upcoming new legislation in your country and you are likely to find something which national press are going to cover once it is brought in. Mine as much information as you can around the legislation and the potential can be endless.
For example, before penalties for using mobile phones while driving were increased, Corinne’s company contacted the Department for Transport and gained information which had not yet been published anywhere.
For even more mileage, they conducted a survey and asked subjects how often they used their mobile phone at the wheel.
They found out what consumers would want to know and created imagery around it, to make the information easier to digest (which automatically gives journalists unique creative and also makes it more shareable).
With a single question, Google Surveys can provide all the information you need for a good hook and for a relatively cheap price. Twitter Polls are also a cost-effective way to get relevant data; 2,000 responses can be gained for under £100. They can also be targeted to relevant and engaged users, to make the data all the more valuable.
With the mobile phone legislation, Corinne’s company also put themselves in the perspective of publishers, thinking of who else the information could be relevant to and how they might tailor it to them.
The Google Survey consisted of only one question, but with multiple-choice answers which gave them numerous angles and potential headlines. For example, an HR company published the story around how employers discourage staff from answering work emails while driving.
There were many more outlets publishing the coverage, each with a legitimate statistic to make it readable for their audience.
Write the News
Stories work best if they have the following:
- An element of surprise, around something people care about.
- Fresh, verifiable statistics.
- A news peg; something topical which your story relates to.
It should read like the news, using the inverted pyramid method (most newsworthy info at the top, then the important details, and finally the background info).
You should also eliminate jargon and sales pitches, write in third person so that it’s ready to publish, and make it straight to the point.
Give an interesting, relevant quote from someone in authority and let readers know they are reading an expert opinion.
Also think carefully about how to include your links – giving journalists the editorial justification they need.
Apply all of these top tips and you'll be a PR superstar in no time!