PR Fish Bowl

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May 8, 2017

PR Secrets For Scoring Great Media Coverage

When it comes to good public relations, a company can have great potential that for one reason or another is never realized in the form of media coverage. There can be a number of reasons, including bad timing, a poor approach, or competition in the space. But it’s often simply because the company is unprepared for the opportunity. This is why we always want to make sure that a prospective client is truly ready to work with a PR agency, knowing that part of securing media coverage is a willingness to prepare in advance.  But that’s just the beginning.

Prepping for Press

Define your message. Beyond generating brand visibility, what do you want your PR coverage to communicate? A brand’s top messages are typically the basis for its narrative, and it can take time and skill to shape and convey those attributes in the right way. It’s one of the first tasks of a good PR team and it usually factors into evaluation of a program’s success. This very fun story about KFC launching a romance novel for moms this Mother’s Day incorporates many of what we assume are the product messages, including “…deliciousness of Extra Crispy Chicken.” In fact the entire romance novel, “Tender Wings of Desire” is an ode to KFC product attributes, as well as being a PR win-win.

Tell us everything. Not literally, but there’s almost no such thing as oversharing when it comes to informing and educating your PR team. One thing that makes for an excellent PR partnership is the organization’s willingness to share raw information that can be translated into media interviews and stories. These can be internal studies, sales information, customer and competitive data, or simple workaday anecdotes. Data can be a goldmine for a PR team looking for a fresh media angle, and sometimes an offhand remark can result in a story. File-sharing service WeTransfer mentioned to our team that an artist whose work was featured on their site would be designing a billboard for the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles. The comment sparked some quick media outreach resulting in a number of positive mentions highlighting WeTransfer and including a link. It was a no-brainer.

Offer “exclusive” data if possible. Particularly during quiet periods without new product and other announcements, a bit of “sexy” data can go a long way to securing a story. For example, a hot topic of late in the ad/tech world is the ire of major advertisers placed next to hate speech on YouTube and other sites. MediaRadar, which tracks advertising across the web, unearthed data showing that YouTube had lost 5% of its advertisers in the wake of the discovery.  In stories like this one in the NY Post, Crenshaw was able to reinforce MediaRadar’s position as an indispensable source of intelligence for ad sales.

Prep your media spokesperson. Whether seizing a media moment or rolling out a coordinated effort, those who speak on the company’s behalf need to be fluent and comfortable conversing with press. On occasion a CEO is born to the role and requires very little preparation, but that’s the exception. Most leaders can benefit from at least a quick professional media training session to polish the rough edges and instill confidence. Failing to do so can result in stories that fall short on key messages, leave your brand out altogether or produce an embarrassing interview that wastes the time and work put into it.

Take some chances. Sometimes what separates a good PR relationship from a great one is a high level of trust. When a creative PR team suggests something out of the company comfort zone and makes a strong case for its success based on previous experience and research, it’s worth listening. Some of the best company stories involve a little benign risk-taking. This is not to endorse putting anyone in an awkward position, but the one who goes out on a limb with a bold prediction or contrarian critique wins the day in the court of public opinion. Elon Musk is putting resources into underground tunnels which he predicts can solve LA’s traffic woes – is he onto something? Does it matter? Look at the coverage!

Timing, timing, timing. Sometimes the timing is obvious – see Mother’s Day and the KFC bodice-ripper story above – or any number of reliable seasonal stories brands regularly use. In addition to calendarizing story angles to stay on top of these opportunities, it’s a good idea to stay on top of daily (or hourly) headlines and “newsjack” when appropriate. As soon as the new administration began talking about making some less-than-positive changes to current tax law, not-for-profit builder, NHP Foundation positioned its CEO to talk up the benefits of an existing tax credit program that has helped keep housing affordable for generations. It’s now standard operating procedure for him to work in mentions of the tax credit in media interviews like this one with Politico, keeping the issue top-of-mind, as talk of potential changes permeates the news.

Remember that media begets media. If a big story hits, don’t sit back and think the job is done. One story naturally leads to another, particularly if the PR team has been clever enough to hold back fresh news tidbits in anticipation of helping a story have “legs.” Broadcast typically follows print and digital coverage, so if you score a big story that appears online, there may be an opportunity for a television interview based on the same news. Certainly if a story is stirring interest, it’s a good idea to be ready for follow-up interviews. This could be that 15 minutes of fame you have been preparing for all these years and you want to be positioned to make the most of it.

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