Placing stories in the media may not be a challenge when your organization is making news. But how do you remain front and center when you don’t have a big transaction, a timely report or new research that reporters want to cover?
At Solomon McCown & Company, we employ several strategies to ensure our clients continually achieve the recognition they deserve, regardless of whether they have “hard news” to share.
Thought Leadership: When you’re fortunate to work with relevant clients who have interesting things to say—readers (or listeners or viewers) want to hear from them and learn what makes them tick. Executive profiles and/or Q & As are great, high-profile vehicles to learn more about the individual behind the executive. While it remains incredibly competitive to secure one of these spots, the growth of online outlets means there are more opportunities than ever before. Podcasts are also a great way to get executives out of their comfort zone where they can show some personality, talk about their backgrounds and the backgrounds of their company as opposed to just the latest development. Often, we will hear more great content that comes out of these discussions which can then be repurposed for future pitches.
Industry/Trend stories: There are often diminishing returns when continually pushing stories at reporters. That’s why we look to foster relationships with journalists who know they can reach out to us if they are in need of a quote from one of our clients to provide additional context, insight or analysis. Using the quiet times when there’s little news to set up introductory coffees with reporters, producers and editors is a smart media relations strategy. These conversations are almost always productive, if not immediately, then in the long-term.
Creative Content: Pitching infographics is a great way to get reporters interested in a new idea or trend. This might include illustrating proprietary data collected by your organization or visualizing some aspirational concept. Even if reporters don’t write a story on the infographic, they might share it on social media which is significant when a reporter has thousands of followers.
Trend-jacking: This is a strategy that especially benefits marcomms professionals who follow the news cycle closely. Also known as “story jacking”, our firm used this strategy with great success earlier this year when we got a tip that a major report—in a sector our client works in—was being released. While our client didn’t have anything to do with creating the report, because they’re a public interest group and recognized expert in the space, we secured four TV, two radio and six print/digital placements in one day talking about the report. Some organizations are more sensitive than others when it comes to commenting on a development they are not directly involved in themselves, so better to ask those who would be quoted ahead of time to ensure you have buy-in.
Op-eds, Bylines and Letters to the Editor: Here, timing can be key to securing a placement, because newspapers or digital outlets are typically not going to print/post more than one opinion piece on the same subject. It requires forward-thinking, being ahead of the curve and anticipating what will be the public conversation around a particular issue. If you’re reading about a topic and think “I’d really like to weigh-in on that”, it’s likely too late. Just as critical, the content that you offer up should be different, perhaps a contrarian viewpoint, and one that someone in your organization is uniquely qualified to give.
Whether it’s a quote, a byline or creative social content, there are any number of tools in the PR toolbox to ensure your organization is consistently heard from. Remember, just because there may be a period where they’re not making news, doesn’t mean they can’t be in it.