How to achieve sustained media coverage for your business

How to achieve sustained media coverage is a key consideration when devising an external communications programme.

Recently I was invited onto Get Radio’s Business Brunch to discuss this topic as part of a round table of experts to share advice, tips and best practice. It was a highly informative show during which a lot of strong insights were shared and you can listen back here. I received great feedback afterwards and so I’ve developed the key themes further in this blog to expand on the advice given. 

Communications strategy

Before embarking on external communications, whether it be media relations or posting content on your own platforms, you should devise a strategy. A communications strategy should pinpoint how you will position your business and articulate your purpose. This goes beyond what your business does and delves into why you exist. Getting this piece of work right will help ensure all your communications brings your business to life and develops a strong reputation, brand perception and builds meaningful engagement and relationships. 

The strategy should include how you wish to communicate, your tone of voice, key messaging and your target audiences. Market research and some internal workshops should form part of your preparation. Do you have perception or legacy issues? How do you need to adjust in the market? The strategy should sit in front of all tactical activity, not just media relations, but website content, social media, newsletters, videos, photography and events. This will help ensure all your external communications are unified and have purpose. 

Content plan

Developing a content plan is a key component in successfully achieving sustained coverage for your business. 

What you don’t want to do is tell your whole business story in one go, or in one month and then struggle to achieve on-going consistency. Carving up your key stories and mapping them out in a calendar will help you build consistency. Additionally, this will help you evaluate what works well regularly and adapt your tactics accordingly. 

Map out what is happening in your business across the year, consider what is relevant in different months to your audience, tap into Awareness Days and think about different types of stories. How can you develop stories that articulate each key element of your business, your values and your purpose? This approach will help you build up a strong timeline of activity, based on genuine story hooks to form the basis of your media outreach. 

What is a story? 

Achieving sustained media coverage requires mastering storytelling. Sharing good stories is a proven way to engage your audience. A good story requires a clear angle, emotion, vision and the ability to take readers or viewers on a journey. 

To make sure you source great stories within your business it helps to gain buy-in from your colleagues. Explain to them that your business is embarking on a PR campaign and why and encourage them to be part of the process. Help them understand what a good story is, how they can help and the benefit it can bring to the business and them. In large organisations empowering the wider team to share great stories with the communications team will help strengthen your ability to achieve consistent PR coverage. 

Types of story 

Understanding the different ways to tell your story via PR is also key to achieving sustained coverage. This means thinking in stories. I’d encourage anyone interested in upping their media exposure to read and watch the media. Ask yourself what are they reporting on, why and how? Use it as inspiration for your business.

Types of stories include news, features, trend pieces, thought leadership, data driven stories, company announcements, people stories, charity stories, award wins, product launches, anniversaries and milestones, case studies, human interest stories and surveys. For breaking stories journalists will often want an expert to provide context and insights via a comment. 

If you are pitching to the news section of a media outlet the clue is in the name, your story will need to be new. It will need to be relevant, new, informative and interesting. It could be fun, or serious, but it must be relevant to the media outlet’s audience.

How to tell your story? 

Grab attention quickly and keep it. This means getting the strongest point across straight away and then develop the detail as you go. Therefore pick the strongest element of your story and communicate in simple terms. Grabbing attention immediately is crucial, for two reasons. Firstly, if you earn the interest of an editor or journalist you have a good chance of having your story published or broadcast. Secondly, you will then want the readers, listeners or viewers to engage with your story if it goes live. 

The first thing journalists are taught by lecturers on the National Training for the Council of Journalists are the Five W’s’, which are the key fundamentals that must be included in a story. They are who, what, why, when, where and how’. Address each of these points in your story to build your article. 

Think about who the story is about, what they have done and why? When did it happen and where? Additionally write with your intended media outlet in mind and create an article that is ready to go and fits the media outlet’s style and word count. Submitting a ready to use’ article is much more effective than a traditional press release, or promotional heavy copy. If your business is small, talking about your market, or your personal back story could prove to be useful tactics. 

How to pitch your story 

When you examine magazines, newspapers and websites you will spot that they have different sections for different topics and types of content. Establish which section your story is most relevant too and then focus your pitch to the appropriate journalist. Equally researching the media will help you generate workable ideas that you can develop and pitch to the media. Be proactive and set your own agenda.

There are many types of media outlets and it is worth researching the trade press that is particular to your sector. The trade press provides an excellent opportunity to build your profile in your market to key target audiences. They need great stories and trade titles provide scope to go into more detail than you can in the mainstream media. Trade media speak the same language, can be more technical and more sector focused. They often have space for thought leadership guest articles in addition to regular news, which provide an opportunity to build profile as an expert. By adapting stories in different ways to appeal to different media you can gain wider coverage. 

Follow journalists on Twitter, many of them post journo requests’, which can be an excellent way to source opportunities. But as with the news agenda, you have to be quick to achieve results. 

Once you begin to place stories you will be able to build fruitful two-way relationships with editors and journalists. Building relationships with editors and journalists is important and will help you stand out from the deluge of emails they receive daily. If they know you are credible and provide them with great stories, they will open your email and consider your pitch. If they have confidence, you can turn around copy and provide quality photographs on deadline and they like your pitch you have a strong chance of success. 

Like any relationship it will take time to build and therefore it is important to keep your pitches relevant, get to know each other and nurture the relationship. 

Don’t underestimate photography 

To give your story the best chance of success make sure you provide a full package of required content. Photographs form a key part of any story online and in print. Examine the media and you will see that the main stories all have eye-catching photographs an article.

Therefore, it is important you provide relevant professional images with your story. Firstly, it helps maintain more control of your story, as you will issue photos that you are happy with and secondly it improves the chance of your story being used. Include people in your photographs as much as possible. 

I would recommend sending three or four images, as many online news websites now publish a set of photos with a lead story. Make sure the photos are high-res, look professional with strong composition and are in landscape format. If there are people in any of the photographs make sure you include their names in a picture caption at the foot of your press release or article. 

Investing time and budget into professional photography can make a big difference to your PR results. Often a media outlet will decide to run a story on the strength of photographs alone. 

Remember broadcast

Radio and television opportunities should form part of your PR tactical activity if it is relevant to your strategy. There are a plethora of radio and TV stations with a wide variety of shows and therefore plenty of opportunity. Often businesses are reluctant to pitch to broadcast media because they do not think they are big enough or because they are nervous about being on camera or on air. However, it is worth considering, as it is an effective way of reaching part of your audience, building awareness and credibility. PR professionals can provide media training to help you prepare for an interview. 

Broadcast, like newspapers provides both local, national and international reach and while they do not always provide a direct Google footprint’ they are a strong outlet nevertheless. 

Amplify your reach 

We encourage our clients who achieve media coverage, either digitally, in print or broadcast to share it on social media to amplify its reach and impact. It is often worth tagging contacts in your post to expand your reach and engagement further. 

I would encourage you to re-purpose content and ensure all your communications are unified via your website, social media, newsletters, stakeholder engagement and media relations. This approach makes sure you maximise your content, engage as many segments of your audience as possible and reinforce your message. If you have appeared in the media letting your customers, colleagues and contacts know helps strengthen engagement and your reputation.

Storytelling is a fantastic way to enhance your business and achieve stronger market perception, reputation, engagement and awareness. By applying the approach outlined above you have every chance of developing your narrative and achieving sustained coverage. If you would like to chat about how to communicate your business better get in touch here.

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