Turn Your Public Relations Campaign Into a Smashing Success
Getting press coverage is tough.
The people of your company work hard each day to make things happen: to help people, create things, and build a business. But for many companies, when they go out to spread the word about the work they’re doing, they’re met with silence — nothing from the journalists and media they try to contact.
But how are other companies earning PR if it seems so difficult?
Earning press isn’t a magic spell that some people know and others don’t. There are strategies and tactics — things learned from experience and trial and error. These small changes in approach can make all the difference.
Let’s look at some hacks and strategies you can use to turn your public relations campaigns up a notch to be more efficient and effective.
1. Leverage influencers
When it comes to generating a big buzz, you can take one of two approaches.
Either you try to reach out to hundreds of journalists and get a few of them to write stories, or you can focus on the most influential sources who can help you generate articles from a number of other media.
The key here is to understand how news moves from one place to another. Where do stories generally begin, and how do they permeate through to other media?
Generally, big outlets like NY Times or Washington Post will break stories, which then generate a number of articles from other journalists who follow up.
Do a quick search of Google News for a recent story in your industry. Trace it back as best you can, and see where and how it originated and where it was later picked up, syndicated, or repurposed. Study these patterns, and you’ll identify specific places where you can gain leverage and exponentially increase your success by focusing on the most influential writers first and foremost.
This doesn’t mean it’s not valuable to contact smaller outlets or bloggers, but you should be strategic in whom you contact. It may be that a small but influential blogger in your space is the one who routinely breaks news that gets picked up by beat reporters at major media.
Bonus pro tip: Offer these journalists or bloggers an exclusive or an advance story as a way to show them that you value their influence.
2. Sell your story
Journalists are in the business of telling stories, not promoting products and services.
This probably seems obvious, but it’s often forgotten. Many companies think that because they’re excited about their product and its cool features, other people will be too.
In reality, journalists are just like the rest of us — they have their own lives and interests. They aren’t machines that just turn press releases into articles.
That means it’s your job to give them a reason why people will care about a story about your product. Why is this a big deal to someone other than just you?
Why do people need to know about this thing you’ve done or created?
Instead of saying, “we’re launching a new cloud-based CRM,” explain why your cloud-based CRM is valuable and noteworthy. What about it is special? What effect can it have for people?
You can use a tool like Droplr to add instant screenshots or screen recordings to your pitch, giving them a way to immediately see the product or tool in action.
This can be a much more effective sales tool than simply trying to explain how things work. Check out the example below:
Droplr has added code snippets! If you need a quick way to share a tiny bit of code or a whole source file we’ve got you covered. Beautiful syntax highlighting included.
3. Get a response first
Many times when companies are vying for some press attention, they attempt to hit a homerun with every message. They try to load up their message and throw it all out at once, hoping people pick it up. They write out a huge email packed with details, a press release, a 100-page reference guide, and 32 links.
Guess what the journalist probably does when they see this wall of text in their inbox?
A better way to get a response from a busy journalist is to take a simple approach. Ask first. Get them to bite before you deliver the goods.
Consider a message like this:
Our team is about to launch a brand new app that’s going to disrupt the taxi industry forever. It’s called Uber and we just raised a $5 million Series A.
I’ve got a press release with the details.
The message reveals very little, but it piques interest and it’s exceedingly simple to respond to. All the journalist has to say is “yes,” and now you have a warm press lead who will be actively looking for more information on what you have instead of a cold email that will probably never be read.
A study from Boomerang found that short emails — just 50 to 125 words — receive the highest response rate. Keep it short, and ask for permission before you bombard them with pages of documents.
4. Get inspiration from your competitors
Most companies have competitors, and those competitors are often trying just as hard as you are to earn press.
One thing you can do is pounce on opportunities to get mentioned by writers who have already mentioned them. Of course, monitoring for coverage of your competitors all day and then doing outreach could be a job all in its own.
Instead, use technology to crowdsource these opportunities.
Anytime someone on your team comes across a mention of a competitor in an article or review, use Droplr to save the link. Then use a quick tag, like #competitorpr, to categorize these links into a to-do list for contacts you should follow up with and target later.
5. Seize real-time opportunities
Even the best public relations teams can’t always be in the right place at the right time. News moves quickly and trends emerge out of nowhere and then disappear just as quickly.
Luckily, technology can give you the power to be everywhere all the time — so to speak.
Use the free tool IFTTT to create customized alerts and workflows about topics that are relevant to your business. They can be used to alert you whenever there’s something new, and then immediately follow up with journalists to provide additional insights or context for stories as they unfold.
Bonus pro tip: Take advantage of Droplr’s functionality to tack on annotated screenshots or screen recordings, showing journalists how your product or tool is relevant to their story. This will give them a better understanding of why they should include it in the article.
6. Make your own news
Not getting the response you were hoping for from journalists? Don’t worry. They are incredibly busy and often receive hundreds — or thousands — of pitches per day.
If you’re not seeing any response, you may be able to create your own buzz and get journalists coming to you for a story, rather than you chasing them. Creating your own content or stories that go viral can often generate interest in your business.
Many companies have shifted some of their focus away from traditional PR and invested in content marketing that’s designed to drive traffic and generate press mentions. This may not be as direct as a traditional public relations campaign, but it can help still help create results.
Public relations is about timing, relationships, and effective communication. With these tips, you’ll take a step forward on each front and see better results.