5 Ways To Amplify PR Efforts

The right public relations strategy allows brands to build visibility while creating or deepening connections with key audiences. But tools like press releases and feature story placements are just the beginning. Here are five ways to amplify PR efforts.

Social media adds value

Social media posts can be more than company news and updates. Brands get creative on social channels. For example, if your brand just put out a report with interesting stats, the information can be turned into engaging graphics or charts to engage not only customers, but journalists. Brands can also use social media channels to share thought leadership insights. It’s common for journalists to pick up something on Twitter to incorporate into an article or research for further commentary, for example. Capturing interest from followers can also strengthen a brand’s relationships with key press.

Always be building…media relationships 

Media relationships, of course, are at the heart of PR plan execution. And social channels are a strong avenue for connecting with journalists and other news influencers who might be a resource for a future story. Engage with them on social media, email them offering kudos on a recent story, or schedule a coffee meeting or a virtual check-in. It’s useful to gain insight on planned stories and to let them know about your clients informally, but most importantly, you want to get to know them.

If you create that trusted relationship with journalists, they will start coming to you for help on stories – which is why it’s not only helpful for PR pros to have good relationships with journalists, but to also use the tried and true PR tool of reactive response, otherwise known as newsjacking, to amplify PR efforts.

Newsjacking seizes opportunities 

In responding to a breaking story with your own commentary or news, you can create additional, opportunistic coverage to augment proactive media efforts. But you need to be quick and efficient and  you must offer useful information. Breaking news happens fast, and reporters writing stories are looking for a quick reaction. Something we practice here at Crenshaw is having a document for our clients with approved commentary on several topics where they have expertise. That way we already have the shell of an approved response, and we can tweak the quote to fit the story. That’s how we can get as many as three clients quoted in a single piece on Apple’s announcement of new features for its SKAdNetwork. The key here is not only to be reactive but to offer insightful commentary to grab the attention from reporters. 

Data pulls go along way

There may be a month or two where a company has no immediate announcements or is in the middle of closing on a partnership deal or similar news item, which can take months. In short, there’s no hard news. Data pulls are a great way to get a quick hit, especially if the data reveals something new and relevant to targeted press. 

Last month, our client Innovid put out an annual benchmarks report examining key trends in streaming CTV advertising and more. The report is full of nuggets of information that we plan to use for multiple PR efforts. We have press releases, media alerts, bylines and prepared commentary lined up from all of the data, for the next three months. 

Email marketing connects the dots

Who says email is dead? In fact, it’s more effective than ever as a way to help brands amp their PR efforts. One best practice for email marketing is to push out a newsletter at the same time as a press release is published and news is posted on social channels. Even when there’s no announcement, PR pros should work to create newsletters with valuable content to share with subscribers. Quality and relevance will always get a positive response. 

5 KPIs that Showcase PR Value

A top priority of the best PR agency teams is measuring how well we do. In our business, that means establishing key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs serve as a benchmark for PR performance and help quantify program results. It’s been said that PR results are hard to measure, but in recent years that has changed. Evaluating performance and outcomes is now fairly sophisticated.

However, there’s no one-size-fits-all set of KPIs. Before an agency sets them, it’s critical that they understand organizational goals and what the company hopes to achieve with a robust PR program. Only then can the PR team craft KPIs for clients and map them back to the organization’s broader objectives.

KPIs should align to a client’s SMART goals. As such, they should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. For too long, advertising value equivalent (AVE) was used as the only method to evaluate PR. But equating earned media with paid advertising ignores the key differences between the two and is generally considered a flawed way to measure outcomes. Most agencies and organizations have wised up to use more contemporary KPIs that capture the true value of PR. The ideal KPIs align to build brand awareness, determine traffic, and generate leads.

There are five types of KPIs that are essential to any PR program.

Earned media mentions

Earned media mentions – those stories, interviews, or broadcast segments featuring a given company – typically carry the most weight when it comes to PR KPIs. A media mention or feature is generated when the PR team pitches a proactive story to an editor or producer. The coverage may appear online and is likely to come up in search results as well. For many brands, earned media is the most powerful way to build awareness and credibility among a brand’s prospective customers. And when a brand is looking for lead generation opportunities, media mentions in more niche and trade publications can actually help move the needle.

Potential reach

An earned media placement is only as good as the people who see it, of course. Potential reach, the number of people who viewed, read, listened to it, can be a key indicator of performance. This includes social media, website, and page views. A PR program should include organic reach, which usually offers the greatest credibility, but paid reach can also extend the value of earned media coverage via ads or promoted posts. The two work together well and can expand the visibility of a brand.

Share of voice

Share of voice (SOV) is appropriate when comparing media coverage for a given company and one or more competitors. A SOV measurement should include all coverage across these brands, but what makes it useful is its flexibility. It can also be segmented to look at executive coverage compared to brand and product coverage, for example. When kicking off a PR program, the client and its firm should agree on the competitor(s) to benchmark for SOV. The percentage of SOV includes volume or reach of coverage, but also factors in the domain authority, or search engine ranking, of where the coverage is secured. Domain authority is an important factor for SEO, and a single high-domain article can drive search results for months or even years.

Website traffic and referrals

Using Google Analytics, a company or brand can track how a backlink from a media placement has sent a reader or prospect to the company’s website. It’s easy to see the amount of traffic generated from the link. To properly evaluate a PR program, agency teams establish a baseline for referral links and track this KPI for the program. Major placements in publications with a high-domain authority may generate spikes in website and referral traffic to show the impact of PR. Yet, it’s important to note that many media outlets are moving toward not including links to the company’s site as part of their editorial policy. As such, this should not be the only KPI to home in on for the PR program.

Engagement

Measuring month-over-month social engagement can showcase how well earned media coverage is prompting social media interaction. PR teams can easily measure growth across social media channels like Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, depending on what social platform the company prioritizes. Looking at impressions, likes, shares and comments on posts highlight how the reach of media content is being expanded.

Depending on the goals of the PR program, there may be other KPIs that are particularly significant to a given brand, such as sentiment analysis, domain authority or even content quality. Every organization is unique in their PR goals so agencies and internal teams should listen attentively and pinpoint what KPIs are most critical before starting the program.

5 Qualities Of Top PR People

Many seasoned PR veterans will tell you that success comes with experience. But experience isn’t the only factor in professional excellence among PR people. In my experience the best PR specialists tend to have certain qualities in common. Here are five of them.

A positive outlook

An optimistic demeanor can go a long way in any occupation, and PR is no exception.  

Author and journalist Tom Corley spent five years researching and studying the traits that led to success in wealthy entrepreneurs. He believes that having an optimistic mindset is the key to high achievement in life. In his MSNBC article he elaborates that, “Negativity can make you a toxic person. Many other success-minded people, who tend to embrace positivity, will see your pessimism as a problem and will avoid doing business with you or even associating with you.”  

In other words, cutting out negative thoughts can inspire those around you and foster openness to  your opinions and ideas.

A positive outlook is particularly important in PR, since clients expect us to help shape a situation into a favorable outcome. 

A gift for conversation 

The ability to maintain a conversation and keep ideas rolling is an essential part of the day-to-day workflow of PR professionals. After all, we are communicators.

PR leaders often encourage the regular brainstorming of ideas. This helps brew individual creativity and allows everyone to share thoughts and collaborate.

Persuasive language is another key PR skill. When conducting media outreach, our goal should be to persuade a journalist to engage with the information presented. If a journalist finds the information compelling, we’re more likely to set up interviews on behalf of clients.

An honest character 

A PR professional’s integrity is arguably one of our most important qualities. In an era of disinformation and fake news, transparency is a must. Credible and trustworthy work helps build a reputation for individuals as well as the clients and brands they represent. The best communications people don’t try to shade the truth or blur ethical lines to gain a temporary advantage; rather they keep it straightforward and credible

It’s also important to call out unrealistic expectations by clients or associates regarding media outreach or outcomes. As professionals, we must create realistic opportunities and communicate accordingly. As a best practice, we like to make it clear early on which types of outlets and journalists will likely be most receptive. By communicating a general idea of what to look for from our efforts, we can head off unrealistic expectations and foster a productive working relationship. 

Drive

Ambitious people tend to succeed in PR. By having the drive and motivation to shape your work in a way that stands out, you set your professional persona apart from those who lack such initiative. 

It helps if you enjoy what you do. If so, you’ll find value and accomplishment from it.  You’re also likely engage more fully with the people you communicate with professionally and drive them in a positive direction, too. 

According to a study conducted by The University of Bern, “…ambition was positively related to higher affective organizational commitment beyond achievement striving, especially when more organizational career opportunities were perceived.” The perception of opportunity leads to success, which leads to greater opportunity. 

Adaptability

PR professionals come across difficulties or unforeseen events every day. Unanticipated circumstances can involve changes at the company itself, its clients or stakeholders, or even a global catastrophe like a pandemic. The ability to quickly adapt is a key ingredient for professional success. 

By showing the ability to take a curve-ball situation and work with it, you demonstrate that you’re reliable, agile, and resilient. All are conducive to an environment of stability and success. 

How can I improve my PR habits?  

There are many more, of course, but these five qualities can help drive professional achievement in a PR career. 

However, good habits and traits do not come naturally to everyone. If you feel like you may be lacking in a particular quality, there are steps you can take to improve. 

  • Talk to PR veterans – Look for advice and criticism from co-workers. Someone who is proficient where you are lacking is likely to have the best advice on improvement. 

  • Learn from your success – Keep note of what has worked in the past. Whether it‘s a pitch that led to an interview or an idea shaped into a great piece of content or a PR program, try to model past success. 

  • Brush up on the basics – There’s no shame in re-familiarizing yourself with the basics of the industry. After all, the media landscape changes regularly and sometimes it‘s helpful to rethink your overall approach. Free online opportunities like the Muck Rack Academy Fundamentals of Media Relations course is a great way to strengthen or update PR skills.  

In your PR career, you will come across many obstacles. However, if you strive to continuously strengthen the traits that build expertise, you can overcome any obstacle. 

The Best PR Agency Asset: Flawless Media Contact Lists

For a PR agency team, few things are more important than having media contacts at the ready. In fact, a media placement strategy with the perfect balance of quality and quantity is one of the unsung secret of great PR and media relations.

Media contacts aren’t magic….they’re work

But media contacts aren’t magic. They’re a resource requiring constant maintenance by users. In fact, part of the “perfect balance” strategy means treating your media spreadsheet with the care, focus, and obsessive attention to detail of a NASA rocket scientist preparing for a space mission.

The first order of business is making sure all contacts are up to date. That may sound easy enough, but check out any reporter’s Twitter feed and you’ll probably see complaints about agencies who reach out to irrelevant or outdated contacts, or target their pitches in clumsy ways.

According to the 2021 State of Journalism study, 61% of journalists agree that the way most companies share information with the media is outdated. It’s likely that outdated lists are at least a contributing factor. Regardless, reporters are all but telling PR agencies that they need to up their outreach game and take steps to stay current and relevant, from their strategies to contact lists. Here are some simple steps PR reps should take to maximize success.

Research, research research

The simplest way to keep contacts up to date is through simple research. For example, if you haven’t contacted a certain reporter in a while, look up whether they’re still in the same place and on the same beat. Take a peek at some of their recent pieces. Study the depth of coverage and the tone of their pieces. Even if a reporter regularly covers a relevant topic, they might not showcase your information or spokesperson in the way you’d imagine. It sounds obvious, but not enough people browse reporters’ recent pieces, especially for the broadest beats, or, conversely, the specialized ones, like technology or, say, the Apple or Amazon beat.

Verify information before you press send

After authenticating the status of specific contacts, you need to verify contact information. Before beginning the search manually, savvy PR professionals should use the services at their disposal. For many, this includes media relationship management software Cision, which can help confirm email addresses by simply plugging in the name of the reporter. Other media resources that can be used to verify contact information include Muck Rack, Prowly and Anewstip.

However, Cision and media softwares should not be the first step in building a media list. Rather, think of them more as a last, but helpful, resort. Software often has outdated information on outlet, subject matter and even contact information. Overreliance on software tools can result in a subpar outreach. Even though it may be time-consuming and at times grueling, the best PR agencies consistently check the web to confirm email addresses, starting with the outlet’s or reporter’s website.

Update and delete bouncebacks

One of the biggest differences between PR agencies that run efficient media contact programs and those who don’t is consistent updating of contact lists. That’s right, it’s not glamorous or brilliant, but it works. It’s just essential for team members to update the shared spreadsheet following every outreach. If you are reaching out to a wide variety of media contacts, you are bound to get a few undeliverables. Make sure to remove them. It saves the next team member time, energy and a host of similar bouncebacks. Additionally, PR agencies are often hesitant to reach out to a group of journalists from the same outlet. Leaving an outdated reporter, or at least their contact information, there can mean that a colleague fails to connect with the right contact at that particular outlet. We can all help one another.

Record reporter responses 

Every piece of information you receive after pitching serves a purpose. Following a pitch, you may see auto-responses like an out-of-office message about a vacation, family leave, or departure. Again, share the information on a centralized sheet. And if your pitch leads to an interview, coverage, or simply use of background material, note that in the spreadsheet. This is especially useful for unpleasant experiences. There are always journalists who simply don’t want to be contacted about certain topics, or at all. Others are on book leave and only want to tell you once. When in doubt, err on the side of including the information and letting the next user make the decision on whether it’s relevant.

Media list access is vital

Sometimes we spend days making perfect contact lists and they’re not easily accessible. Using outdated lists, either by accident or because someone was in a rush, is actually a common problem for subpar PR agencies. Make sure your lists and documentation are easily accessible to everyone in the shared resource. Regular training sessions on software are a useful habit of successful PR agencies. Finally, any and all team members should feel free to let the entire team know of a major change regarding a reporter or outlet. Our agency Slack is full of this kind of news, especially in the key sectors we cover regularly like adtech and cybersecurity.

For a PR team or agency, reputation is everything. Thus, how reporters, clients and even your own colleagues view you will have long-term consequences. Being slightly obsessive about your media contacts and your team’s system for keeping them in perfect shape will help bolster your standing, and, more tangibly, yield excellent outcomes. Media contacts will be happier due to more consistent and relevant pitches, clients will be happy about increased coverage, and your staff will be grateful for the team effort.

The Follow-Up Pitch: PR Tips On Getting It Noticed

As PR teams know, creating and distributing content is one thing; getting journalists to use it is another. The way we conduct media outreach is critical, especially with reporters receiving hundreds of pitches and press releases each day.

From relationships to cold outreach, the way a publicist reaches out to a reporter is key. One of the most effective ways to do so is through email. Gone are the days of calling reporters and pitching them over the phone; most prefer a simple email with relevant details. But how do you know when to follow up and how? Here are a few ways to successfully pitch and follow up with reporters.

What should a follow-up look like?

Keep the note short and to the point. Reply with the original pitch underneath the follow-up note. This way the reporter can see the full details of the original pitch. If possible, include a new data point or link the follow-up to something timely that broke in the news and is relevant to the topic at hand. This may make it more enticing for reporters. 

Timing is everything

Be aware of reporters’ schedules and deadlines. Send pitches and follow up emails in the morning between 9:00 and noon; that’s typically the sweet spot. An early note is more likely to be noticed and potentially turn into a media interview or feature. Avoid reaching out after 4:00 p.m. as reporters are wrapping up for the day and may miss it. 

Pitching earlier in the week (i.e. a Monday or Tuesday) also helps a pitch be noticed, and it can offer enough time to conduct any follow-up emails through the week, without sending too many too closely together. Research shows three in 10 journalists want two to three days to look over a pitch before someone follows up with them. So, space out any outreach. 

Also take time zones into consideration. Most media outlets are based in New York City but with the popularity of freelancing and working from home, journalists may be spread throughout the U.S. You check reporters’ social channels for their location. This will help determine the best time of day to reach out.

How many follow-ups?

The majority of journalists (59%) say following up once is enough. But based on the amount of feedback received or the time of day the first email was sent, you may need to send another follow-up just to be sure.

While a significant number of journalists are okay if you send a second note, avoid a third follow-up. Most journalists say they’re likely to block a PR person who follows up with them repeatedly.

Of course, if you already have an established relationship with a journalist, it’s probably okay to be a little more persistent – or simply ask what they prefer. They’ll appreciate your consideration of their time.

News cycle matters

Keep in mind that if you didn’t get much feedback on a pitch, there might be something occurring in the news cycle that takes priority. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back the first time. 

Most reporters have very full inboxes and may be working on breaking news, so when they see the follow-up email they may never have even seen the original one. This is why a follow-up is important. It may spark the reporter’s interest and elicit a response.

Do the research

While you should research before reaching out to journalists, it is critical when following up. Check their previous coverage and make sure that reporter covers similar topics to the one you’re pitching. A little research will also help you personalize outreach and show the reporter you’re current on their work. Citing a previous article they wrote will help your email stand out. 

Other ways to follow up

Depending on the subject matter of the original pitch and its timeliness, you may want to go beyond email for outreach. When pitching something to broadcast journalists, start with an email. But call the news desks at each station first thing in the morning before the crews leave for field coverage. Briefly mentioning the announcement over the phone helps ensure it will be brought up in the news meeting and potentially covered as a story that day.

What about social platforms? Journalists will vary on preferences here, but if you know the reporter fairly well, it may be useful to DM them on Twitter. Or, if you don’t have the best email address or want to get a conversation going, it can be a good idea to reach out on social media – usually Twitter or even LinkedIn. Once you get a response going, you can then politely inquire about the pitch or ask for a better email address.

Overall, journalists are under deadline pressures, constantly dealing with overflowing inboxes, and regularly juggling several stories or pitches to their editors at once. Our role as media relations reps is to smoothly hand over information in an effective and timely way. Using simple but judicious follow-up lets us be more effective and productive.

7 PR Tips For Nailing A Media Interview

Your B2B PR strategy is working and the press is interested in knowing more about your expertise. Congrats! Wondering what to do between now and then? Here are a few tips on preparing for a media interview so you can absolutely nail it.

Remember your media training 

If you haven’t already undergone formal media prep, ask your PR team to set up a session when possible. For more on mastering your media training, check out this post. If you can’t fit in a whole session before the upcoming media interview, make sure you have a one sheet-with interview tips/tricks to review prior to meeting with the reporter. 

Study the briefing doc

Our clients agree that briefing docs make media interviews a breeze. What’s a briefing doc? Typically prepared by a PR team, it’s an overview of recommended messaging, the topic at hand, and the reporter leading the interview, including his or her last five stories. This document also acts as an easy access to the interview details–  meeting time, link to the meeting (or phone number), and even a photo of the reporter to help with prep. It should offer key messaging and quotes for consideration during the interview. We like our clients to use their own words, but for most of them, bullet points or suggested phrasing helps keep their thoughts in order and the interview on track.

Practice answering questions out loud

A briefing doc often includes a Q&A section with written-out responses to the questions the PR team anticipates. It’s smart to take the time to fully review and practice answering the questions aloud. Try standing in front of a mirror and reciting key points, as if you were explaining them to a friend or neighbor. It will feel awkward, but it’s very helpful. If the language isn’t comfortable, change it so that it flows naturally. Practicing with the PR-approved language goes a long way in building confidence and ensuring a smooth interview.

Match your  language to your audience

In technology PR, it can be challenging to explain technical issues or products to a general audience. Conversely, if you’re talking to a journalist from a sophisticated trade or tech outlet, you’ll need to communicate at the level of its audience. That’s why advance preparation is critical. For a less savvy audience of readers or viewers, take care to use accessible language and avoid acronyms or jargon unless you can explain it quickly and smoothly.

Prepare examples and analogies

One way to explain a technical product or avoid a long-winded explanation is to use an example. We work with many technology companies who partner with well-known brands, so one way to shortcut a lengthy response is to cite a positive outcome in a customer situation (e.g., “Warby Parker drove a 32% sales increase with our contextual technology.”) But of course, any customer mention must be approved in advance, and that approval might be time-consuming or impossible. Another excellent way to make an impact is to use an analogy. In adtech, for example, we might talk about a “clear box” as an antidote to the convoluted tech some call a “black box,” or we might use a “passport” analogy to explain the opportunity that Web3 offers for brands to market in the metaverse. Common analogies help audiences understand the relevance and impact of a company’s offering.  

Do your research

Even if you know the reporter, take the time to be up-to-date on their recent pieces. Be familiar with recent changes in your industry’s media landscape. Again, a good briefing doc will summarize (and link) the reporter’s most recent, relevant articles and include relevant background for the upcoming interview’s topic. Getting a sense for the journalist’s writing style and knowledge of your industry will help everyone align during the interview.

Beware lengthy tangents

Definitely take a little extra time to connect with the reporter during the call. Feel free to make small talk, compliment them on recent stories, or to ask about recent work. But avoid rambling about topics that haven’t been approved or discussed internally. The last thing you’d want is to give too much away that could jeopardize a future announcement. Or, worse, giving the reporter an opening to flip the sentiment of the upcoming coverage on its head. In short, stay on script without forgetting to be personable and helpful. Often, the PR rep will sit in on the meeting to help keep the conversation on track.

At the end of the day, the most important thing when preparing for an interview is to remember that you’re the expert. Share what you know and have fun doing it!

3 PR Tips For Better B2B Media Placement

A B2B PR firm looking to promote a specific idea or story might think first about pitching large, mainstream media outlets. Why not? Splashy national coverage is terrific, of course, and everyone loves a big name. But not every story is national news. And a story in a publication with a high UVM (unique visitors per month) may not attract as engaged an audience as a more narrowly focused one. In fact, a strict focus on “greater audience reach = better” can mitigate opportunities for exposure in more relevant outlets that will cover the story more fully and be more searchable by the right prospects.

Vertical trades are a PR gold mine

The right media strategy hinges on understanding your industry or niche within it. An underrated aspect of our role as PR professionals is to think about how a client’s brand is perceived not only to the writers we contact, but also their audiences. By understanding what compels an outlet’s audience to keep returning for new stories, we can better shape a pitch to hook a writer’s attention.

If a company focuses on B2B tech services, we may naturally target outlets like BizTech or MarTech. Mainstream business outlets like Forbes can also be good targets, but only if the writer’s beat is relevant to the pitch, and the resulting story is searchable. Some journalists receive over 500 emails per day. With so many people contacting them, it’s no surprise they ignore pitches that aren’t suitable.

If you narrow your outreach, you’re more likely to catch a writer’s attention, simply by keeping their audience in mind.

Go narrow, but go deep

Even a clearly superior product or service may not be compelling enough to generate interest from the press, especially in larger outlets, who tend to be pickier about which pitches they read and proactively cover

But for any topic, from ad tech to supply-chain technology, there is someone who covers it and an audience who reads about it. This opens opportunities beyond the conventional product or service announcements. Most senior executives at high-performing businesses are actually subject-matter experts who hold interesting opinions about industry trends or who may offer stellar insights about their sector. Those views can be parlayed into interviews, bylines articles, op-ed pieces, and other contributed content.

Or, broaden out to the culture of business

Then there are the factors common to nearly every business. Not every story needs to be about a specific industry; in fact, it could be about leadership, culture, team-building, or community. Those topics can seem “soft,” but supported with the right data points and a charismatic founder or senior executive, they can be very powerful.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Is my company or client involved in philanthropy or community work?

Have they adopted strong diversity or ESG initiatives?

Does leadership offer bold, interesting or contrarian opinions on topics of interest to their industry? 

If you answered yes to any of these, consider broadening future media outreach. Think about what your company has done differently from competitors and what initiatives they’ve taken to improve company culture. 

By exploring social or personal initiatives, you create more opportunities. Crenshaw Communications client Chili Piper is a prime example of a company that pushed traditional boundaries to launch the Citizen of our Planet (COOP) foundation. By extending their workplace culture beyond the company to the broader community, Chili Piper shows its human dimension and comes across as more than just another B2B tech company.

Taking advantage of trades, homing in on industry-specific topics, or, conversely, going outside typical industry stories to engage more broadly, can engage media and their audiences to drive new levels of awareness for a campaign or brand.

How To Make A PR Impact With International Media

Today, many U.S. PR agencies are taking on international communications for businesses as they expand beyond our borders. The digital acceleration brought on by the global pandemic has in many ways made the media landscape more accessible to PR teams. 

Many B2B tech companies with digital offerings, for example, market products and services worldwide, and they don’t always want to bring on multiple PR firms. They’re often looking for a single point of contact, supported by on-the-ground sales and media relations. 

For PR teams, media relations outside North America offers similarities to domestic outreach, but there are key differences beyond language, of course. Here are five areas to consider when pitching international media. 

Language isn’t just about translation

Any PR team will make sure a release or announcement is translated from English into the language of the population where it’s released. Yet there are less obvious factors. Proper translation — whether directly through a newswire distribution service or through a translation vendor like Gengo — can take up to several days to get back. Many announcements contain technical or legal terms, and every industry has its own vocabulary. So when devising announcement strategies, be sure to bake in extra lead time to avoid delays or last-minute confusion. Also it’s good practice to construct the release in a way that’s easy to translate. So avoid English slang or acronyms that may complicate the copy. That way ideas or concepts don’t get lost in translation, and you minimize the time-consuming back-and-forth during the review process.

Using universal language in an announcement will work in some areas. However, figuring out the best way to localize the language in a release — whether it’s with graphics that might hit home on a local level, or a reference to local standards or regulations — will help it resonate with local audiences. 

Learn local media and publications

If you work in PR, chances are you have a firm grip on the relevant U.S. media and a data resource to keep track of whom to pitch. In fact, 95% of PR folks use a media database to help manage their outreach. Yet international media is less familiar, so it’s important to take the time to research both mainstream and trade publications in all regions. After identifying key publications, dive into each to identify specific journalists for whom your announcement or story is relevant. 

When looking for media to pitch internationally, it’s wise to include foreign bureaus of U.S.-based publications. Most of the larger ones — NY Times, WSJ, etc. — have correspondents who cover news based in other countries. While these publications are familiar to anyone located in the U.S., finding the most relevant foreign contacts will help build out international media lists and ultimately be a major benefit for international PR. Understanding whom to target ensures that your announcements are reaching the right people — and ultimately the right audience.

Plan for time zones and other logistics

Logistical challenges are a given when you’re dealing with international PR. The best time to reach journalists is usually at the start of their work day. Most importantly, embargoes for most announcements lift first thing in the morning, local time. So it’s important to be strategic with timing for any international PR campaign, particularly when dealing with global news announcements that are embargoed in several time zones. 

Assess local and regional relevance

Not every story will be relevant in every region. Some could address a problem or situation that’s not timely, while others may include a technology move that’s too advanced (or not advanced enough) for a given market. A common issue is an announcement that pertains to a company that’s widely recognized in the U.S. or Europe, yet utterly unknown in APAC, for example. You’ll have to adjust the level of detail and background information in the pitch and release accordingly to make sure journalists understand the potential impact of the news. 

Know cultural differences 

Respecting and understanding all relevant cultural norms in specific markets is an essential part of conducting successful international PR. This can be everything from knowing which countries prefer more formal language in pitches, to familiarizing yourself with any slang or local dialect. Further, it’s important to know holiday schedules and local events. Several EMEA countries observe many more federal holidays than we do here in the U.S., and many Asian populations observe lengthy holidays that last days or weeks. It’s a good idea to keep an international holiday calendar that tracks holidays in the countries you’re targeting.

In addition, it’s important to know the ways that earned media is different in other parts of the world. PR efforts in some regions place a stronger value and emphasis on paid media, while the news might be controlled by the government in some fashion. Any cultural differences should always be considered when coming up with a plan for media outreach. Little things can help build credibility with the reporters you’re trying to connect with. 

While there is no question that on-the-ground and local support is essential for many markets, a single point-of-contact can also work, as can same-language media relations and pitching across borders. These are some of the ways for U.S.-based PR professionals to best conduct media relations across borders. 

3 PR Tips For Writing A Killer Media Pitch

In the pandemic era, capturing media attention has been tougher than usual. Journalists now work on smaller teams than they did before the pandemic and are juggling many more beats. So, B2B PR professionals have a small window to catch their attention, hold it enough for them to actually read a pitch, and find it interesting enough to want to take action.

The media pitch should also be short and personalized. It should outline the value of a story and convey to the editor why it’s worth their time and effort to publish a story on this topic. With these quick tips, you’ll be well on your way to writing stellar pitches that garner media attention and delight clients.

Compelling subject lines

As media professionals, we often underestimate the value of a great subject line. Journalists are flooded with hundreds of emails every day. What makes them pause to read one is a smart and thoughtful subject line.

The best subject lines include a stat, notable observation, or something contrary to the norm. For example, “DATA: 42% say AI will not take over.” A subject line should pique the interest of a journalist and prompt them to want to learn more. It’s helpful to keep subject lines no more than 10 words with an average character count of 64, according to Muckrack. Long subject lines are truncated when a reporter reviews their emails and will likely end up in their trash without even being reviewed. For example, a less compelling subject line would be “According to MIT, experts say AI won’t take over in the next decade.”

Keep it short and simple

Winning pitches are engaging, timely and succinct. Pitches that are opened by journalists are about 120-180 words. Journalists are busy people, so if you can’t frame a media approach with an interesting storyline in less than 180 words, it may be a good time to pause, reflect on what you’re trying to convey and rework the body of the pitch.

A winning pitch starts with an interesting intro paragraph (about 2-3 sentences) that highlights the thesis of the pitch. The body of the note should support that thesis. Be sure to start with an intro sentence that lays the foundation and makes the journalist want to read more. 

For example, “As more of us switch from TV to streaming, advertisers are following. Spend on ad-supported streamers – Pluto TV, Roku, Peacock, etc. – grew more than 25% last year. Unfortunately, fraudsters are taking advantage, stealing millions from newbie streaming advertisers by spoofing devices and apps, and faking ad clicks and views.”

When reviewing the pitch, look for areas to improve readability. It may benefit from bullet points to break up heavy text. Bolding words or sentences will make the interesting nuggets stand out more, and journalists will appreciate being able to quickly scan a pitch and fully comprehend it. Pitches should also be jargon-free for the most part unless you’re reaching out to a technical journalist about a specific subject matter.

Have a clear call to action

When there is a clear call to action (CTA) at the top or middle of the pitch, it’s not buried and difficult for the journalist to find. Media should be able to quickly review and understand the takeaway. For example, a clear CTA can be:

  • Setting up an interview with a client

  • Sharing a byline article for consideration

  • Offering an expert as a guest for a podcast

It tells the editor whether they should action the pitch now or save it for future reference. Identifying and offering an expert source from the onset is a key value-add in the journalist-PR pro dynamic. And, it will help build lasting relationships. 

Writing a media pitch should be second-nature to every PR person. But, journalists today have shorter attention spans than in the past. Taking the time for due diligence to ensure you’re targeting the right editor will go a long way in making you a go-to source for media inquiries and drumming up stellar media interest for internal or external clients.

PR Tips For Navigating Interview Roadblocks

For PR specialists, few things are more exciting than landing that media interview. Every journalist interview, whether it’s a top business pub or a targeted trade outlet, is a win. But an interview isn’t a story until it’s posted.

To expedite the process and ensure a positive outcome, it’s standard practice among PR teams to prep executives with a briefing document highlighting details about the interviewer, the nature of the conversation, possible questions, and recent pieces by the journalist in question. 

But things do not always go as planned. What happens when something goes off track? How can PR specialists handle tricky situations that threaten a great story?

Someone is a no-show

This is a rare occurrence, but it happens. Is there a worse feeling than sitting on a conference line or Zoom call waiting for someone to show up? If after a few minutes you are still getting radio silence, end the call and work on rescheduling. If the journalist is working under a tight deadline, offer a written statement to be included in their piece. If the piece is not as timely, reschedule for a time that works for everyone. Being stood up by a journalist is embarrassing, and it can even make the PR rep look bad, which is why meticulous confirmation in writing is always necessary. However, it can be rescheduled. If the corporate spokesperson is a no-show, however, that will require real damage control absent an emergency situation. Always make sure your spokesperson is fully available and prepared.

Spokesperson isn’t a good fit

Often a CEO or founder will be in demand as a media spokesperson, especially at high-growth technology companies. Realistically, however, a spokesperson matrix may be needed. A new product launch interview needs a senior product specialist, a change in strategic direction a C-level executive, a technology exploration a chief engineer, and so on. It’s important to match the right interview opportunity with the correct and appropriate spokesperson.

Media prep didn’t stick

Formal media training can be helpful for executive spokespersons who are new to giving press interviews or who need a quick prep for a new announcement or tricky situation. It typically covers anticipated questions, ways to stay on-topic, and on-camera tips for remaining calm and engaging. But sometimes it doesn’t stick. General shyness, language barriers, or lack of experience can pose obstacles to a productive interview. In that case, it helps to conduct interview over email. A written Q&A can allow the time and care to manage responses and ensure there will be no misunderstanding. 

A spokesperson makes a mistake

Occasionally a corporate spokesperson inadvertently offers inaccurate information. In that situation it’s important to correct the mistake as soon as possible, even if it’s after publication. What’s trickier is if a spokesperson lets a confidential piece of information slip out. If someone mistakenly reveals a confidential launch, future merger plan, or other piece of proprietary information, there is no guarantee that it won’t be in the story. It’s generally best to play it cool, and, in the case of truly significant news, try to negotiate a deal with the journalist in question so that he will get first crack at the story once it becomes public.

Interview is deadly dull 

PR specialists cannot always predict how a spokesperson and journalist will interact. Some spokespeople have charismatic personalities and can talk to anyone in an engaging way while others may need a bit more prep. If you don’t have a naturally engaging spokesperson, or if he rambles into irrelevant or technical topics or is long-winded, the interview can be dull. In that case it’s appropriate for the PR person staffing the interview to gently redirect the conversation to focus on the most cogent and relevant points.  

Journalist seems unprepared

I’ve hosted media interviews more than once where the journalist has said, ‘Remind me what we’re talking about again?’ It happens more often than you think. Media are often crunched for time, with multiple interviews in a single day, and they may need a reminder on how to start the conversation. For journalists new to the space, this may actually be an opportunity to educate them on your industry or issue and allow you to tell the story the way you want. The short-term  goal of every interaction is to get a good story, but an equally important longer-term one is to help the journalist keep you on file as a good source for future pieces.