Do you know what the media would consider newsworthy about you or your company?
Many new clients come to us with a strong opinion about what their “pitch” should be, but often miss the mark, in terms of knowing what will get the media to sit up and pay attention to their message. But it’s very understandable that this could occur, if you’re not working with the media the way we do, day in and day out, developing story angles intended to grab their interest.
For those who are new to PR, my message is this – think outside of the box! As normal as it is to be focused on your own company and industry or field of interest, there is a lot going on in the world, and your expertise might be news in ways that you’ve not previously envisioned.
I always recommend to my clients that they try to view their companies from the outside looking in, particularly, from the perspective of the media. The best way for you to garner the media’s interest is to understand what it is about you and your company that might be interesting to them. The process is actually quite simple.
- Read the News – If you want to be featured in the news, you should read the news. Be general in your approach. Read the top headlines in all the categories, even if your company is in a niche industry, because you never know what is going to happen. For instance, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has focused a spotlight on oil rigs and the people who work on them. Journalists are looking at the companies who own oil rigs, drilling rights, and other oil company service firms. Analysts in that small business niche are being quoted in top tier media outlets, after existing for decades completely outside the reach of the media’s radar. So, go broad with the topics that you track, and don’t be afraid to become a little bit of a news geek. Being better informed about the world around you isn’t a bad thing, and the by-product is that you’ll be far more media savvy.
- Track it Back – Now, as you absorb the headlines and the stories of the day, think about how one or more of them could track back to you, your company and your key messages. A good example comes from one of our clients, a maker of natural health supplements. Their primary product line uses a natural ingredient called Resveratrol. Clinical research has uncovered that Resveratrol can be helpful in reducing fatigue, restoring energy and safeguarding your immune system. Now, earlier this month, Reuters reported that doctors who performed an 11-year study of British civil servants discovered a direct link between heart disease and working 11 hours or more each day. Another story quoted U.S. Department of Labor statistics that more than 7 million Americans work at least two jobs. We combined those two pieces to demonstrate that millions of Americans are working way more than 11 hours, and are at risk for everything from chronic fatigue to heart disease. From there, it wasn’t too difficult to beat a path back to the client’s physician spokesperson who recommended a series of tips to prevent those outcomes, including a short tip about how some natural supplements can be helpful. At first blush, you wouldn’t imagine that labor stats and a medical study in Great Britain would have any relationship with a natural health supplement, but by thinking creatively, we were able to make the connection and develop a strong radio pitch for that client.
- Be Opportunistic – The news happens fast, so be prepared to think just as fast. Recently we took on a client named Jane Heimlich, who has a dual claim to fame. She is the daughter of dance hall king Arthur Murray, who established the largest chain of dance instruction centers in the country. She is also the wife of chest surgeon Dr. Hank Heimlich, the creator of the life-saving, anti-choking first aid technique called the Heimlich Maneuver. She had just written her memoir, and was looking to promote it via media interviews. When we brought her on board, the new season for the network TV show Dancing with the Stars was about to begin. In reading her book, we discovered that her father’s TV show, The Arthur Murray Party, was the first network TV dance contest – and it involved the big stars of the day. So, we put together a radio pitch with the headline “Remembering the Original Dancing with the Stars.” We booked 15 radio interviews and a full print campaign with that angle, and we just refreshed the angle with the CBS announcement that they are giving Paula Abdul her own TV dance competition.
At the end of the day, recognize that your expertise can be stretched beyond what you have in your marketing plan, and you’ll be able to make you and your company more relevant to the press in a lot of creative ways.