The HR tech industry is booming.
The sector has grown rapidly over the last few years as companies seek to recruit, engage and retain their most important assets (employees) and obtain insight into how people impact the organization.
Organizations require better tools in order to accomplish this, and HR companies have seized on the opportunity to provide everything from data analytics to employee-intelligence tools. However, in an increasingly crowded market, PR pros for these organizations aren’t successfully breaking into media outlets.
How can you bust through the noise and nab coveted media coverage for these clients?
Affect recently interviewed top reporters at business and trade publications about what they want to cover, what’s bugging them and how PR pros can better grab their attention. Based on feedback—and our experience—here’s our best advice for landing your next big story:
1. Understand how reporters choose stories.
Most organizations aren’t “breaking news” on a daily basis, so you must be creative about developing storylines and inserting them into trends in which reporters are interested.
Reporters often develop their story ideas by scouring the news to find the most important stories of the day, looking at social media to find out what their audiences are talking about and analyzing their own websites’ data to see what readers are interested in.
Tap into reporter interests by keeping a close eye on what’s trending, and build a story for your company around those topics.
Journalists say they often don’t even know about a breaking story until a PR person tells them—and in some cases, they’re scrambling for sources, so being prepared to jump on a trending story is a great strategy.
2. Pick your topics wisely.
Surprising, shocking or counterintuitive data or storylines should pique a reporter’s interest. Even a topic that’s been talked about for a while (such as employee engagement) can still be of interest if you have a unique angle or piece of data to share.
There are also a few themes HR reporters are particularly interested in this year, including cybersecurity; HR analytics; talent management; changing overtime regulations; using technology to implement benefits; and the evolution of performance management.
No reporter is interested in pitches full of buzzwords and “been there, done that” stories on customer experience management and human capital management. If you must talk about those topics, do so in a compelling way and make sure to share something new and interesting.
3. Arm yourself with data.
It’s hard to argue with facts and figures, so packaging up your story with strong data is one of the best ways to garner media coverage. Gathering proprietary data (from your own technology, customers or operations) is the best way to ensure your company is featured in the news.
If you don’t data, consider commissioning a study with a third party, which lends credibility and strengthens stories.
If you’re on a tight budget, there’s always aggregated data. You can gather existing data from previously published surveys or research (sourcing appropriately) and combine it or present it in a new way. There might also be obscure data from a public source that bolsters your case or confirms your story that previously went unnoticed by the media.
4. Offer tips and use subject matter experts.
Reporters love when experts can share easy-to-read advice for their audience, such as “5 things HR professionals can do to make sure their employees don’t fall for phishing attempts.” Bullet points do better than long-winded pitches or verbose bylines.
Reporters want to talk to subject matter experts in their fields—people who can provide specific details about the topic. They aren’t interested in speaking with vendors who are trying to sell to readers, unless they have outstanding research or an eye-opening point of view. You’ll have better success offering a business executive or technical expert vs. a marketing professional as your spokesperson.
5. Read before you write.
Knowing the reporter you’re pitching and the outlet they write for is crucial.
It may seem obvious, but reporters say that the number one thing they want PR pros and executives to do is read their stories before pitching.
Invest the time to read their articles or watch their shows, learn about their audience and get a good sense of what they cover. Customizing your pitch can be the difference between getting great media coverage and being dumped in the spam folder.
Melissa Baratta is a senior vice president at Affect. Prior to joining Affect, she served as managing director for Ricochet Public Relations and currently sits on the Corporate Partners Committee of the Healthcare Businesswoman’s Association.