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Distractions. All of us have probably been suffering from a few of them. Journalists are no different. That’s why working on public relations (PR) efforts like media relations can be more challenging than ever right now.
As you consider how to get a reporter’s attention, there may be elements you can focus on before you reach out to lay the groundwork for greater success when you’re ready. Let’s take a closer look at what we can do right now to prepare our PR efforts for success.
Eight ways to prepare for public relations success
1. Update your site
If you’ve wanted to make any changes or updates to your website, do that before reaching out to any reporters. Why? Because one of the first things a reporter may do when they read your pitch is to visit your site. You want it looking its best, so if anything is out of date, do what you can to update it.
2. Build relationships
This topic has come up frequently as clients try to understand what they can do differently to help them stand out to reporters. Establishing relationships now, long before you “need” that reporter, may make them more receptive to your client’s story when you eventually send them a pitch.
Start with a list of journalists and publications you potentially want to reach out to. Follow them on social media, engage with them and share their content to get on their radar.
3. Get active on social media
Are you active on social media? Make sure that a) you have social media accounts on at least one or two platforms where the reporters you want to cover you spend time (Twitter is usually one), and b) you’re consistently posting – and engaging — on those platforms.
This does not mean you have to have an active social media account on every platform. Do that, and you may become overwhelmed and stop altogether.
4. Create a press page
While you’re looking at your site, do you have a press or newsroom page? This is a page dedicated to your press materials. If you have a digital press kit, this is where it belongs. If you have press releases, they should be there. If there are news stories that have mentioned you, you can also link to those.
5. Gather your allies
Reporters will often want to speak with a third party who can talk about the benefits of using your product or service. It’s good to be prepared with a customer reference or perhaps a partner or other outside influencer (or two — or three) who can speak about your business and the benefits of what you provide.
Of course, you’ll want to choose a reference who has positive things to say. If you need to convince the reference to speak to a reporter, remind him or her that it’s potentially good PR for their business, as well.
6. Consider the visuals
Visual elements such as photos and videos are becoming increasingly important in all types of media today. They help bring the story to life and draw in more readers.
Another point to consider is that some media outlets don’t have the budget to send a photographer out to take photos for every story they publish, so they may ask you to provide some. When building an image library, don’t forget to include logos and executive headshots. Go a step further and include captions for your visuals.
Post these on your site in your Press area (see above). This makes it even easier for reporters to grab them when needed.
7. Get your stats in order
Reporters love a good survey or study. If you don’t have the budget to do your own original research, it’s perfectly acceptable to cite someone else’s.
For example, if you have a bedding product but no research of your own to cite, check out the National Sleep Foundation’s latest study to see if there are statistics you can include. Just be sure to give credit where it’s due by including a link to the research.
8. Prepare background materials
If you have a company overview, fact sheet, backgrounder or executive bios, always make those available, as well. Post them in your Press area (see above). This makes it easy for journalists to refer to them if they have a fundamental question.
Remember that it’s better to be prepared and not need something than to be asked and keep a reporter waiting while you spend time putting it together.
Get ready for your next PR initiative
These are the basics to have at your fingertips any time you reach out to a journalist. It’s always a good idea to think through what a reporter may need each time you pitch a story idea so you can be prepared to follow through if you get a “yes” to your pitch. Journalists are busy people — don’t keep them waiting, or they may go to the next potential source on their list.
Working on these elements in advance will help you be prepared to get going on a media outreach program — whenever you decide to launch it.