New and Newsworthy: Your Guide to Media Relations

Getting your company’s name in the news — with a positive story, of course — can be invaluable toward boosting your reputation and promoting goodwill toward your organization.

However, landing positive coverage isn’t as easy or straightforward as it used to be. Why? Shrinking newsrooms, stretched resources and an increasing trend toward pay-to-play advertorial all have a role to play in the decline of traditional media opportunities.

How do organizations capitalize on news opportunities? Media relations needs to be more strategic and more relevant than ever.

 

What’s newsworthy?

Newsworthy announcements can result in long-form interviews, in-depth profiles or feature stories in top-tier outlets — the gold standard of media coverage. Unfortunately, not every announcement is capable of whipping up a media frenzy.

 

Stories that make news:
  • Are controversial, counter-intuitive or unique. They say what hasn’t been said before.
  • Are about topics, products or events that impact or interest a lot of people.
  • Involve celebrities, dignitaries, business leaders or other prominent individuals.
  • Play off what’s currently in the news. People are talking about it.
  • Have human interest. They bring people and places to life, or use individual anecdotes to illustrate a broader issue.

Managing expectations about what makes news — and what doesn’t — will go a long way toward raising your odds of getting your story published.

Ask yourself, “Is it newsworthy?” and answer as honestly and objectively as you can. Even if the topic may not be newsworthy enough to earn a feature story, it could be worthwhile to invest time and resources on other ways to promote your content, such as a social media video or branded content.

 

Consider contributed content

If you haven’t been successful in pitching media stories, consider whether these other opportunities accomplish your business objective instead.

 

Byline articles

Many media outlets publish contributed articles (often known as byline articles), which are authored and submitted by industry experts or leaders. These articles offer an excellent thought leadership opportunity to raise the profile of a company executive or boost your brand’s position.

Identify publications that are well read by your target audience and brainstorm ideas that will highlight your company’s work or expertise. Don’t forget to link to the article on your company site or share it on social media to amplify exposure.

 

Op-eds

An op-ed is an opinion piece that appears in a newspaper’s editorial section (it’s short for “opposite the editorial page”). It’s an effective medium for persuading audiences or mobilizing groups of people to support a particular issue, if that’s your goal. Keep in mind that most editors will require you to stake your position on the issue and will not allow promotional language about your brand or company.

 

Letters to the editor

Short, sweet and to the point, letters to the editor offer another opportunity to contribute content. Often, letters shows support for a particular cause or issue, or comment on a news story. They may also be effective if you are looking to correct misperceptions about your company or industry.

What about including pitching podcasts or influencer blogs?  While not traditional media, the same rules apply for pitching them (if the influencers aren’t pay to play).

 

Quick tips for successful pitching

No matter what your media strategy entails, follow these best-practice media relations tips:

  • Do your research.

    Target reporters that cover your industry or have written on a similar topic in the past. Research niche publications that may take an interest in your story. Nothing will get your email deleted faster than sending a pitch that has no relevance to a reporter’s beat or a media outlet’s focus.

  • Be ready to work with reporters.

    Conduct media outreach when your spokespeople are readily available, and have photography, project info or data on hand to send at a moment’s notice.

  • Consider timing.

    If you want to get coverage on an event happening next week, don’t pitch a magazine with a three-month lead time. Avoid holidays and other busy news periods when possible.

 

Has media relations gotten more difficult for your organization over time? How do you ensure a successful media strategy?