So what happens when you’ve sent out press releases, pitch e-mails and done your “call downs” aka follow-up calls with media and still all you hear is the sound of chriping crickets? It happens all the time. And, no, there is no possible way to have deep, meaningful relationships with every single journalist on your dozens of media lists. It’s not always possible to pick up the phone and say, “Hey, Jim. Can you do me this one favor and write something up on my client? They’re really fantastic. It’s a great story.” Nope. Even your best reporter friends can’t always say “yes” if their editor says “no.” When the media hits stop coming, or they never came at all, it’s time to stop an reevaluate your story. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re auditing a media relations plan:
1) Do you have realistic expectations about the hits you’re going for, and when those hits might happen? Remember, it takes weeks, sometimes several months to get on a journalist’s radar if they’ve never heard of you before or have a very limited idea of what your company does. Be persistent and continue to send releases, pitches and advisories. Eventually, they’ll get the sense that you’re a legitimate company with ongoing news to offer their audience.
1) Is this a new angle on an ongoing news story, or are you simply promoting your service or business? It’s important to remember that public relations is an “arm” of marketing. Avoid using marketing speak or language that is too entrenched in selling your product or service. Always default to “what kind of news content can I provide that will be of service to this reporter’s audience?”
2) Are you positioning yourself as an expert resource that can be called upon again and again for similar news items? It’s important that you’re not perceived as a one trick pony or that you’ve never done this before. Make certain that spokespeople are trained appropriately and are ready to go when that hit comes.
3) What are your media friends saying about your pitch? Solicit some honest feedback from sources you’ve used before. They may not be your target media, but every journalist has an idea of what makes for a good pitch and, subsequently, a better story.
4) Are you sending out your news in a variety of ways, i.e. pitch e-mails, press releases, letters to the editor, op/ed pieces. Are you using newswire services or sending targeted information to specific journalists? Take stock of what distribution methodologies you’ve used. If something is not producing results, step back and say “let’s try something else” and get back to media relations in a couple of weeks. Remember, media relations is not the whole of what public relations is. Sit down with your marketing director and discuss other strategies for raising awareness about the business that does not involve pestering journalists.
5) Are you offering third party interviews from people who are not in your organization? If you have great relationships with industry analysts, use them! Or how about great customers that can attest to how brilliant you are? Solicit support from your fans and ask if they would be willing to be included in your pitch to the media. Make certain they have talking points, but encourage them to be enthusiastic and frank about your business.
Doing a quick “reality check” in your media relations plan is helpful in not only keeping pace with the industry, but developing new strategies for getting the word out. And don’t worry if reporters aren’t jumping to interview you. Step back, take a break, try something else and get back to it later. You do not want to exhaust the contacts that you have, and it’s always advisable to review messaging during those dry editorial periods.