The Wall Street Journal
, The New York Times
, CNNMoney, Fortune
, and the list could go on and sure as sunrise, these pubs and others like them are on the PR objectives list for thousands of companies across the country. And they should be.
Coverage in a high-profile publication can pay huge dividends in terms of credibility, exposure, connections, and recognition. Sadly, for 95 percent of the PR pros aspiring to have their company’s or client’s story told in the business press, it is an objective that will go unmet.
Why? Most don’t understand what it takes to capture the attention of top business reporters, and they don’t take quick advantage of the opportunities they do get.
Pick up a copy, or scan the online version, of any of the publications listed above. Count how many profiles have been written about companies over the last year. Not that many. To generate interest, the stories must meet or exceed the following three criteria:
• Include an interesting and unique point of view on a topic or trend that is dominating the industry;
• Provide commentary that helps the reporter understand why this story needs to be written now; and
• Show that the story will have a wide appeal for his or her readers and will get shared across social media.
In today’s market, that’s everything. You have to give reporters a reason to decide that the story they write about your client will deliver more readers, social media shares, and comments. You must convince them that writing up your story will deliver these results better than the last interview they did, or the one they will do immediately after they hang up with you.
There are certainly other factors that play into it: a household name, a rock star CEO, imminent regulation, etc., and if you have the above, your chances of enticing a business reporter improve.
It’s sometimes hard for company execs and PR pros to understand that regardless of what they do, their market, size, customers, etc., their story just isn’t what the business press wants to cover at the moment. We have certain clients that are regularly in the mainstream business press, from CNN to Bloomberg to The Wall Street Journal
and The New York Times
. But their story is different, and for better or worse, what they do resonates at a particular moment. Other clients struggle but are regularly covered by the top trade and vertical press, and they know that is what their customers read, so they are happy.
[RELATED: Find out how to craft the perfect pitch at our April PR & Media Relations event in NYC.]
The challenge for PR pros is to set the right expectations and not overpromise: “They will write an in-depth feature story on just your company, because we have friends at the pubs you want!”
It’s also important to help clients understand how they can cultivate interest from business media if they happen to be part of a company that isn’t part of the prevailing trend/topic.
If you do get your clients on the phone with a reporter, they cannot default to a standard product or company pitch; they must stay relevant to what the reporter is covering.
Richard Williams is president of Connect2 Communications, Inc., a leading technology public relations and corporate communications firm. A version of this story first appeared on the company's blog.