B2B PR is often considered a dark art. It’s not…as with all business activities, it’s about relationship building and understanding what a particular partnership needs to make it work.
Journalists want to get the best news stories for their audiences and companies want to get the best publicity for their business. Simple. PR experts (either in-house, agency or freelance) are often employed to act as the conduit in making that happen.
PR professionals and journalists can have a love ‘em or hate ‘em relationship, but the fact is that neither party can exist without the other. PRs can’t be successful without the coverage and support of news outlets. And, in an age where ‘content is king’, editors, reporters, bloggers and columnists would be stuck for a story or two if they were never tipped off through a press release.
Not every business has PR or media resources available. No need to panic though, whatever the size of your business, the secret to successful public relations is not actually that secret at all.
We’ve pulled together a few of our top press tips and included some insights from journalists we heard from recently at the ‘Meet the journalists’ event at Nottingham Trent University, courtesy of Enterprise Nation (which you can read more about here).
Seven press tips for businesses:
1. Create a plan
Who do you want to talk to? What do you want to say to them? When is the best time to talk to people? How do you want your business to come across? Where will you reach your audience?
Without a plan, your PR activity is scattergun at best and inconsistent when it comes to coverage and conveying your company message. Creating a plan for your media strategy will help answer key questions and give you direction so you can prioritise activity and talk to the right people at the right time.
2. Do your research
Ask your customers what they read and find out how they like to consume media. Is it via social channels? Is the industry trade mag a must read? Are all your products and services relevant to every sector or do you need to segment your stories based on the target audience?
Whether you, a team member or hired PR help does it, research is essential in finding the right target media for your business. Some businesses and agencies have the luxury of a media contacts database. However, if you don’t have the budget, setting regular research time aside to keep abreast of topical, timely news and contacts is a worthwhile investment for building future relationships.
3. Get to know your media
Once you know where your customers are looking, read and research the relevant publications. What articles do they run? What is their editorial policy? How do their editors/contributors like to work?
Build relationships with your target publications and the key journalists within them. You can’t get to meet every single person, as this would be a full time job in itself, but you can connect on Twitter, catch up for a coffee, drop them an email or make a point of seeking them out at an event.
4. Connect with contacts
As mentioned, media databases (such as Gorkana) offer unrivalled access to hundreds of thousands of journalist contacts, but not everyone has this benefit at their disposal. That doesn’t mean that making contact is impossible.
Contact us pages on publications’ websites and media packs have the relevant contact details, email addresses can often be found in Twitter bios and LinkedIn shouldn’t be underestimated for making and staying in touch with connections.
Don’t be afraid to get in touch either. A simple web search can return bloggers with specialist interests and social channels offer a great way to start a pitch. Hash tags #journorequest #PRrequest are popular searches which link those seeking stories with those with stories to tell.
Sometimes it’s better to do it yourself. The Assistant Business Editor at the Sunday Times, for example, prefers to speak directly to Business Owners/Entrepreneurs rather than PRs; something you’d only know by doing your research.
5. Be practical, punchy and polite with press releases
The first paragraph of any press release should include the What? Why, Where? When? Before even that, the subject line of your email should grab attention.
Journalists from BBC Radio Nottingham, East Midlands Business Desk, Heart and Notts TV all agreed that avoiding witty puns and catchy headlines was a good idea. They all want bullet points which tell them the story in a nutshell, states what has changed and gives relevant, interesting details with what’s new, different, better or never been done before.
It is worth remembering that Business Desk receives one press release every five minutes, BBC Radio Nottingham one release every minute and Heart Commercial radio one every 20 seconds. That’s a lot of news, so it is important to focus on one key aspect as a priority message and use embargo press releases for exclusives.
To make friends in the media, don’t repeatedly chase stories and don’t send to everyone in the same department. Also, it’s bad practice to send competing outlets the same exclusive story.
6. Learn the lingo
If your press release gets through the net and you find yourself in an interview situation, there are a few phrases that it pays to remember when talking to a journalist to protect you and your business from oversharing:
- “On the record” – OK to publish everything discussed
- “Off the record” – Want the content to be made public, but can’t be attributable to the source e.g. The BBC understands that…”
- “On background” – Completely off the record as there are sensitivities around the story
For regular press spokespeople and senior team members, it is worth considering media training to give them a good grounding in how to handle media interviews, stay on topic and manage media interactions.
7. Live up to the lead times
Your best chance for PR success is to make yourself available. Long lead times and definite deadlines are what B2B journalists are working to every day, particularly in trade publications.
Saying that, the world of daily news is faster moving and for success with broadcast press, such as TV and radio locally or nationally, making yourself available when the press can make it is essential. For example, the TV crew won’t come to an event at peak times with all the public there, but they may cover it at 7am before everyone arrives.
As a guide, for events, a release/email notification one month prior and follow up again two weeks prior to the event gets the best response. For future features, you need to be thinking 6 to 8 weeks in advance of publication.
So, from broadcast to broadsheet, business to breakfast media, make sure you:
- Plan your media strategy
- Know your objectives and your target audience
- Do your homework
- Get to know your press
- Make friends with the media
- Know your stories
- Stick to deadlines
Need helping in developing your press plan for this year? Get in touch to chat through your objectives on 0798961082 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.