I write a lot of press releases for businesses. Many are for trade media but quite a few are also for use by local newspapers.
Just recently, I asked a couple of business journalists on regional papers for their views on how companies can improve their coverage.
The overall view was that: “Like anything else in business, it’s all about relationships. The stronger the relationship, the more likely you’ll achieve regular coverage which understands what your business is trying to achieve. Build trust.”
That’s an important thing to note. If you build up a rapport with a journalist, they will be more open to using materials you send through. Not always the case of course, as you shouldn’t be sending any old tosh, no matter how good your relationship is.
And here’s an interesting view: “Use PR which delivers value, not price. That usually comes from experienced practitioners who can see where the stories are, know how to deliver your messages in a manner which suits different media and have been around long enough to manage a relationship.”
The key is knowing what a news story is. Not everything you want to say is news. Not everything you say is might be that interesting.
Don’t forget, there are lots of businesses that are wanting to get coverage. If a press release has little substance, it ain’t going to get used.
Here’s a snippet that is really quite useful: “You wouldn’t tell porkies to a client – don’t do it to a journalist. You’ll get found out eventually. You’re not going to brag about bad news but don’t tell fibs, either. Being honest often means a story has nowhere to go. Being deceitful is potentially adding insult to injury.”
There’s the thing. Saying nothing, as in “no comment”, doesn’t cut the mustard these days. And making something up is ethically wrong and, well, it will get found out and that will affect your reputation.
Most media are under pressure to do more, with less. There are fewer reporters on newspapers than used to be the case, so “if you can deliver the finished product, you might well stand a much greater chance of gaining meaningful coverage”.
And finally, as they say at the end of the news, here’s a tip that is of use if you’re “in marketing”.
It’s often a real pain for journalists when they get a press release crammed with key messages.
One journo told me: “PR might be a function of marketing but it is NOT the same thing. For most journalists ‘press releases’ written by marketeers stick out like a sore thumb.
Don’t cram releases with key messages. Don’t fill them up with marketing speak. A journo worth her or his salt will instantly be turned off.
And you don’t want a key communication channel switched off, now do you?