Five hundred press releases is the average number delivered to the New York Times every day. When you get to major metropolitan daily newspapers, the number drops to about 250, and 100 for community weeklies. Most local TV stations are in the 200 range and radio is around 100.
So, with competition like that, how do you make the most of your PR campaign and not get lost in the shuffle?
Well, the first step is to look at your message and ask yourself a few pointed questions. Is it newsworthy? Is it consumer related? Could it have a local twist? Is there a visual aspect to it? Is it a topic I can have a long conversation about? What age group am I targeting? Is there an income bracket I’m targeting?
With these questions and answers in mind, let’s take a look at the different traditional media to see which fits your product or service best.
Whether it is a morning, noon or evening newscast, TV communicates to its audience through pictures. It’s all visual. A producer is looking for something camera-worthy that’s also newsworthy, entertaining, informative, or a “how-to.” If you don’t think your message can be visual, think again.
We once had a life insurance agency as a client, and they wanted us to arrange local and national TV appearances for their CEO. The headline for our pitch was “Can You Afford To Survive Without Your Spouse?” and the interview discussion was about the need for women and children to be protected financially after the death of the family’s breadwinner.
As a visual for TV, we had our client prepare big, attractive graphs showing the mortality rates of women versus men, which told a powerful story. It wound up being a very successful interview for our client as well as the media.
Each newscast, believe it or not, is written specifically for a targeted audience based on age, profession and income. For instance, early morning news shows are usually watched by working adults and families getting ready for school. Noon shows are aimed at stay-at-home moms and retirees. Late night news is usually targeted toward younger business people.
Radio talk shows, in contrast to TV, communicate through words rather than pictures. It’s conversational, so your message should lend itself to a discussion about the problem your product or service can address.
Like TV, radio talk shows vary from morning to night. Morning shows, as you might suspect, generally have shorter interviews during “drive time.” With news, weather, sports and traffic, talk show hosts don’t have time for 30-minute interviews.
Midday shows now run the gamut of topics since so many people listen to the radio at work. Today you’ll even find many business shows airing during the work hours.
After work is the second “drive time” of the day. Listeners are more relaxed at that time, and it’s more conducive to a longer interview.
And don’t discount those overnight shows. Think no one’s listening? You’d be wrong. Evening and overnight interviews reach a broad audience, including second and third shift workers, public service employees, truckers and many people who work through the night.
Getting Yourself in Print
Magazines and newspapers are similar to radio and TV in that they’re looking for the newsworthy, the entertaining and the informative as well. Providing valuable information for a publication’s readers, especially in the form of tips, can often land placement. As well, certain segments of the print media also like visuals.
For example, if you’re pitching your interior design firm or custom jewelry collection, send photos with your pitch. Or, if you have a cook book, make sure to include a photo of a delectable dish. Whenever appropriate, photos can help you make the grade.
And As to the Press Release
As your press release is the key to opening the media’s door, create one that specifically targets the media you’ve selected as the best fit. Make sure your headline is enticing and attention-grabbing and that the text elaborates on the subject matter. Be sure to include a clear summary of what the interview would be about and a short but impressive bio or company profile. We have found that a couple of well-chosen juicy or provocative quotes can really add “punch” as well.
Have fun, get creative and persist!