Have you ever wondered why some companies get in the news and yours doesn’t?
It’s not because they’re more special or deserving than you.
What gets some companies envy-generating news coverage has more to do with work than worthiness
. These companies appreciate what PR can do for their brand image and future sales prospects. They view PR as an investment and not just a cost.
Want to become one of those talked-about companies, too?
Here are 10 tips to help you start implementing a successful PR strategy today.
1. Brainstorm with the team.
Contrary to what many may think, PR is a creative process. Get together with your leadership team to brainstorm different story ideas that might appeal to the media. New product lines, geographic expansion plans, anniversaries, executive hires, awards, recent customer success, nonprofit support, annual conferences—all can be turned into compelling news ideas.
2. Tie story to the big picture.
One thing that makes a story interesting to the media is its relevance to national, regional, or local news trends. For instance, if you sell foreclosed homes all over the U.S., a story about how your efforts are helping revitalize blighted neighborhoods across the Rust Belt might be a good candidate for national headlines, given the ongoing housing crisis.
3. Create a strong hook.
When writing your story as a press release, make sure you spend a significant amount of time on the headline. Try to create a headline that will hook your readers. Don’t be afraid to run it by your team to see how well it works.
4. Show me the money.
It’s not just a good line from Jerry Maguire
. Many news reporters crave numbers—revenue growth, number of employees hired or fired, amount of funding from venture capital funds—when they put together stories for their readers. Nothing captures the essence of news quite like numbers.
5. We got the beat.
Reporters cover specific areas of interest—their beats—about which they write or produce stories and small summaries. Get to know reporters, editors, and producers whose beats relate to your business. Having a relationship with specific media can make it a lot easier to get your organization into the news than if you send impersonal press releases to random media.
6. Follow up.
When you’re sending out press releases and news alerts to media about whom you know very little (apart from what beat they cover), it’s smart to follow up an email with a phone call. Be courteous on the phone. Hit them with a 30-second version of the press release. Keep it simple. Even though they may sound brusque on the phone—most newsrooms are understaffed—don’t take it personally. Be sure to thank them for their time on the phone, and ask whether you can send them news in the future.
7. Stay committed.
If you want to raise your profile in the media, you have to stay committed. If you are patient and methodical with PR, it can eventually become an important contributor to your sales funnel. Not every story gets picked up the first time, and expecting radical results in a short time is a recipe for disappointment.
8. Review and rewrite.
When writing press releases, you must be careful not to overwrite or include irrelevant information. A thorough review process will help you catch mistakes and other glaring faults. Consider cutting anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of the release depending on its length. Most press releases should not exceed 500 words, including the boilerplate company description. If you’re distributing the release on the wire, expect to pay extra for any words over 400. Verbosity in PR is an expensive habit.
9. Search engine-ering.
All press releases should be optimized for search engines, such as Google and Bing. To optimize your press releases, make sure you have your primary keyword in the title and peppered around the first 100 words in the body. You can try to optimize two to three words, but any more than that becomes messy and can make the release ineffective from a media outreach perspective. (Ed.’s note: Business Wire has a useful and concise post on 10 tips for optimizing press releases.
10. Ask for help.
In today’s do-it-yourself world, sometimes it pays to seek the help of an expert. Fortunately, various options exist for companies seeking PR help, from single contractors to large PR firms with international offices. Make sure you determine your goals and a rough budget in advance. Contact several firms and/or contractors and ask how they can help you accomplish your branding goals. The decision should be a balance of cost versus long-term benefits.
Got any suggestions to add?
A version of this story first appeared on Dave Manzer’s blog.