Remember how your grandmother used to bake a cake? She would throw in a pinch of this and a dash of that, with no recipe in sight. It was all instinct and practice. Well, media relations is something like that. It takes a number of ingredients in just the right amount to make a successful media placement.
I’ve been working with a new client for the past 2-3 months. It’s a new company that wanted to get the word out about their online health care service, which keyed into the trend about the high cost of health care. Last weekend, as a result of our efforts, an article about their business not only appeared in the daily newspaper, but made the front page of the business section. You can’t buy that kind of media placement, which makes it a good example of how the right ingredients can result in a blue-ribbon story.
As the PR person, you want to establish a good relationship with the client, asking about their business or product that answer the questions:
How is this newsworthy?
Why should people care?
How is it filling a need?
Is it adding jobs to the market?
Is it benefiting the community?
Just because you think you’ve “baked the BEST cake,” it doesn’t always mean the media is going to take a bite.
When working with a new client, I always try to put myself into the role of the reporter. I don’t just skim the surface and say, “OK, company, tell me about your product.” I like to dig deeper to see what the benefits are. Are they doing something truly unique? How is their service fitting into what’s going on in the news now or perhaps a trend? That kind of background bolsters my story when I’m pitching it to the reporter.
With my new client, I talked not only to the company president, but also interviewed a number of physicians and customers. By doing these interviews, I was able to come up with the best angle to peak the reporter’s interest. In addition, I could suggest other people to interview to round out the story.
I tend to ask a lot of questions just as a reporter would. Sometimes clients are uncomfortable with that, but I explain that I have to think outside your company “box” and figure out why someone would be interested, whether it is another business or a consumer. Much like a reporter, the PR person has to dig a little to find the right ingredient that is going to get them excited about pitching the story and the reporter interested in writing about it.
So whether you are a company thinking of PR for your business or a PR person with new or existing clients, think about the sugar and spice that will make your PR story a blue-ribbon award winner.