Every client dreams of getting a mention in the national newspapers or on the BBC/Sky News. With a reach of millions, these media outlets can spread the message far and wide.
But the competition is immense and getting hold of the right journalists is both tricky and time-consuming. It’s simply a bit of a bonus when someone picks up the phone. And when they do, you need to have your pitch perfected and offered up immediately.
When it comes to the nationals, timing is incredibly important. Daily and breaking news is fast-paced and deadlines are tight. Some media databases create alerts to requests from national journalists and connect you to them directly, but these obviously involve a budget.
News hijacking or “newsjacking” is another way of getting mentioned. If there is a trend or industry development that is being talked about, whether it’s a cyber breach or a new technology, offering an insightful view or comment quickly can be of good use to national journalists. But time, as ever, is of the essence here too.
TV and radio need a bit of advance warning to allow them to fit the story into their editorial plan for the week. Talk to researchers and producers up front. Holding off an announcement for a few days might just secure a prime time slot, whereas just sending out a time critical press release gives them no room for manoeuvre.
It is also worth bearing in mind that the nationals and broadcasters such as the BBC will have different sections of news and different areas of programming. It is important to do the research and find the right person and section to approach.
There’s no point getting a highly technical story in front of the Sun, unless you distill it down to something that affects the average reader such as a banking app vulnerability. They will run tech stories but your pitch needs to bear in mind the readership.
If you are Apple and you have a new iPhone to launch then everyone will want your story. Otherwise, aim for exclusive information if you are targeting a major national outlet. That might mean sharing some data that nobody else has or offering a CEO interview.
Once the nationals have run the story you can offer it to other media but discuss this with the primary journalist first so that there is no misunderstanding.
And nothing is guaranteed. You may have a corker of a statement ready to go and then something or someone else comes along which trumps it. The competition is so intense, that it would be foolish to assure any client that national newspaper or TV is a given.
Depending on the nature of your clients’ business, telling ‘the story’ is extremely sellable. It could be a slightly controversial statement or tinged with the so-called ‘human interest’ element which makes what your client is up to more relatable.
Making sure that the story is relevant to viewers/subscribers, offering a unique perspective, adding a ‘human’ angle and timing it right with the current news environment could help your client’s vision see the light of the day.
But how do you generate press coverage if there is no news in your client’s sector? Read here.