Public relations professionals are always seeking new ways to get their clients’ stories out – from pinning down the right message to crafting a perfectly tailored journalist pitch. It’s not always easy. If you have a client or your business is looking to build buzz, here are a few ways to break through the noise and be heard.
It’s critical to know where your business sits within its category. At Crenshaw we work with clients in B2B technology industries like adtech and cybersecurity, and it’s a challenge to understand every specific niche and sub-niche. But good messaging is based on a deep understanding of key audiences and influencers and a thorough exploration of the company history and its value proposition. To be meaningful, company messages need to go beyond jargon. Translate them into relevant language that isn’t techspeak or a list of corporate buzzwords. Use examples. Look for analogies and emphasize benefits, not just features.
It pays to be different. An unpopular or contrarian opinion can help you stand out or inspire support from others and start a whole new conversation. Agencies and clients alike need to be monitoring current trends in the industry. If the business is acting differently than others, that can be a story, but even a different opinion about industry trends, the future of your business category, customer behavior, or the financial markets can help distinguish a business leader as an interesting thinker. The opinion, however, must be authentic, well-founded and well articulated.
In our experience, something the client company has overlooked might resonate big time with media. We had a entrepreneurial client who had been approached at a very early stage in the life of his business by a much larger company, but he turned down their offer to acquire his business. That inflection point in his company’s history and his personal reasons for deciding as he did became the basis for our storytelling. Another client narrowly survived a terrorist bombing while traveling for vacation. The experience led him to question what he was doing in his life and career and became a motive for what he did later – launch an entirely new business.
Not literally, of course. Yet understanding the top journalists in your industry helps cut through the noise. It’s good to start with 20 media at first-tier publications, whether it be at a mainstream outlet like the New York Times or a trade like Adweek. Grabbing their attention can be tricky but is made far easier by studying their coverage and engaging with them personally or on social platforms. Setting up in-person meetings over coffee or food will give the client face time to sell their story. If a company wants to be in a specific publication, agencies should find the best journalist and sell a story perfectly catered to their beat. PR professionals need to constantly study those relevant journalists, understanding what stories they’re planning and building rapport. To sum it up, help the journalist help you.
This one’s obvious, but it’s easy to fall short. The art of writing a pitch is one thing, but having the journalist actually engage with the pitch is a different beast. After pulling in the journalist with a catchy subject, it’s best to follow with a pitch that’s pithy, direct, and easy to understand. If the pitch goes too far into the weeds they may not even finish reading it, leaving it with the hundreds of other mediocre pitches they saw that day. Stick with useful information that imparts the right messages and let the journalist take it from there. Once an interview is set up, it’s important to prepare the spokesperson in a similar way. Gently keep them from going off on tangents and focus on colorful language and snappy quotes.
Striking visuals are a great way to make an impact. Not only are they attention-grabbing, but the right visuals will be more engaging for viewers. When we hear information, we’re likely to remember only 10% of it three days later. By contrast, we will retain 65% of the information if paired with a visual. Taking advantage of infographics, still images, and video will be much more eye-appealing, and it makes a journalist’s job easier if strong visuals are involved. Accompanying data reports with graphics can offer a big boost to a story, too. General rule of thumb, if a visual makes sense for the story, go for it.