The right kind of media coverage can work magic for your company. Not only can a positive mention--or better yet, a feature--boost awareness and attract new users, it can bolster your brand's credibility and attract new fans and followers on social media. It's why so many companies pay a public relations firm to make these things happen. But if you're handling your own promotion, tread carefully--garnering good press can be challenging, especially considering it will largely depend on the authentic relationships you can create with time-crunched, message-saturated reporters, bloggers, producers and others in the media world. In fact, lots of well-meaning do-it-yourselfers botch their media relations efforts. That's according to Sami McCabe, CEO of Clarity PR, a global public relations firm with offices in London, New York and Berlin. Here are his words on the tactics you definitely want to avoid.
1. Don't present a product or service in isolation and expect reporters to cover it.
Journalists are more likely to care about your pitch if it tells a story people can relate to. The angle will largely depend on the audience, and the narrative helps bring your story to life and attract eyeballs. Add color and context. Be authentic. And if you can, be provocative or funny. Reporters are more likely to cover something if they think it's memorable.
2. Don't be annoying.
Whether or not your brand gets covered depends largely on the positive relationships you establish with media reps. You'll never accomplish this by spamming people. Mass emailing thousands of journalists with a generic pitch will cause you to lose huge credibility and goodwill. And no one likes being harassed. Calling, texting and emailing reporters incessantly to check on whether they're going to cover your company won't win you any friends.
3. Don't expect anything in return.
Media coverage isn't a transaction. Give generously without expecting reciprocation. Just because you spent 30 minutes talking with a reporter, she has zero obligation to include you in her story. Again, think of it as investing in a relationship. Regularly furnish her with insight, data, commentary--whatever it takes to help her do her job faster and better. But do it generously and without the expectation of something in return. Do it because you want to establish yourself as a valuable and reliable source of interesting stories.
4. Don't forget who's the boss.
Ultimately, you need the reporter more than he or she needs you. Most journalists work under pressure to meet tight deadlines and file numerous stories, so go out of your way to accommodate their schedules when they want to speak to you. Go above and beyond to make their interaction with you as useful and timely as possible.
5. Don't talk in code.
Avoid jargon. Journalists want to understand your point and translate it for their readers in terms that are accessible and easy to comprehend. They want to be able to quote you directly, not paraphrase you. Make your points in plain English, not in business-speak. You'll probably get more press coverage as a result.