Top 5 rules to contact journalists and get published
Written by Angel Mora
In 2020, the primary principle for helping your business thrive is to secure a good reputation, not only among the target audience but in those authority spaces that influence purchasing decisions within the masses. Here, your challenge will be to achieve a permanent presence in external media; to achieve this goal, you must first learn how to contact journalists.
In today’s article, we’re going to tackle: new public relations approach, the sway of collaborators in your communication strategy, and what steps are needed for creating an effective reach-out plan according to Media Coverage.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
Businesses need a story to tell
Whether you are a novice marketer, a designated spokesperson for a midsize company, or the owner of a one-man company, be aware that from now on you are operating in an unpredictable and purely digital market, where rules are constantly changing thanks to technological advances and consumer demands.
Standing out amid millions of products and services entails creativity and tenacity to assert the benefits of your offer via a good story. Narratives give rise to online conversations and the strengthening of business-to-client relationships.
According to PWC figures, the user experience comprises 86% of the purchase decision.
However, it is shocking to see how little is said about the strategies and figures behind the effective connections between brands and the media. Still, there are many options to increase the chances of your company getting featured on external platforms and be translated into sales and engagement.
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The role of a journalist
Your company depends on your PR abilities – or those of your team- to contact journalists who will distribute its press releases to the media intending to reach new benchmarks.
At the same time, journalists – who daily receive an immense amount of feature requests – could find in your brand a new source of events that will provide them with more visibility in the media. As you can see, a great deal. Yet, the biggest challenge revolving this matter is knowing how to take the media’s fast pace in your favor.
68% of entrepreneurs claim to seek for establishing fruitful relationships with long-term media outlets, Hubspot states.
Fortunately, professional knowledge and resources are more accessible than ever, which has caused the emergence of slopes such as converging public relations. This current branch of PR crosses conventional barriers while inserting in marketing fields; figuring as your latest tool since their fundamental notions are designed to increase the impact of the content used for contact journalists, at the same time that they provide quality and reliability in digital parameters.
Your PR resources
Social networks, DMs and emails being the order of the day, appear to suggest that contacting journalists is a simple task; after all, a single click has the power to open all the doors of the online ecosystem, right? We all hear and read about overnight successes and headline stories of improvement.
Well, in practice – and as I suggested earlier – sending a press release right off the bat without even second thought, usually leads to failure; and it is so because the job requires communicators to cover a large amount of narrative in a very short time, which limits their periphery and scope.
As a consequence, rising entrepreneurs end up realizing that their approach lacks an extra value.
A recent study published by Adweek shows that the average range of daily press releases received by journalists is 100 to 150, with 44% being delivered in the morning.
As an advisor and part of the Media Coverage team, I have access to an extensive list of quality and authoritative portals. Hence, many clients come to me looking for our “secret formula” to achieving stable links with the media.
My answer is usually the same: You need to create a unique procedure that responds to the nature and needs of your brand.
What this means is that there has to be taken different frames of reference based on market trends, and adapt them as appropriate.
The Top 5 evaluation criteria used by journalists
In one of my previous articles “Why media relations determine your endurance in the market” I talked about the steps necessary to arrange possible features for your offer. After creating a database with portals, contact names, the next step was to send a pitch with a press release.
After publishing it, I knew I had to add some details and tricks in a follow-up post. Below I will explain everything you need to know to find exactly what media outlets expect from your brand.
1.Mark your footprint
I’d like to emphasize that it is the journalist who, in the first instance, holds the authority to decide whether your content is worth publishing or not. They have been perfecting their news “palates” for years, and although each individual responds to different stimuli, they all usually support a universal scheme when analyzing press releases:
Many companies have made a habit of recycling information and formats, which is why only one quick Google search gives them away quickly.
If you don’t want your company to be scrapped, write an original and interesting press release for publishers, adding a subtle call to action – without falling into advertising terms. You can even improve your chances by previously making some guest-posts on blogs of moderate influence.
Brands that tend to have a better performance in the press are those with referential content available because, in the eyes of the publishers, more people will be interested in reading your note, and the coverage will attract more traffic.
Media outlets stick to a publication program, as well as preferred themes. Therefore, your news must be designed to fit perfectly with its pattern. Additionally, consider how daily events produce attention and publication shifts.
In other words, make sure to verify that your press release fits the current perspective. The best way to do this is by dodging mentioning dates and focus on the essence of the news. In such a way that the text can be added perfectly without breaking with the aesthetics and purpose of the website.
If you’ve come this far, it means you believe in your project and what it has to offer beyond a mere sale. However, just because you have a personal commitment and full trust with it, that doesn’t mean it automatically translates properly into text (or that it should).
Content inherently belongs to whoever reads it. So ask yourself if the story you want to tell contributes in any way to the sector or involves social movements.
Once you meet these criteria, you can proceed to the next step.
- Make an outline
If you have read my other articles, you may have realized that this is a recurring step. But – and I can’t stress this enough – there is no room for improvisation in a strategy since an ideal plan is one that contemplates the evolution of events.
This indicates that when contacting journalists there is always the possibility of being overshadowed by world events such as political conflicts or, more recently, health issues.
Your duty as a brand leader is to ensure that no effort is in vain, so try to:
Include contingencies margins
Although not all, many of the great headlines that grasp the attention of the press don’t do it overnight, but instead, they are events in continuous development until they reach a global level.
Therefore, analyze the chosen media and the journalist’s recent activity on social media. That way to the press release will come off as timely.
Bet on exclusivity
Working with scoops is a great way to draw attention and create precedents for future contacts. Giving a journalist a novelty on a silver platter can assure you of space between their priorities on a regular basis.
When it comes to contacting journalists, your main intention is proposing a stable and pleasant collaboration that takes into account work schedules as well as their deadlines.
In that case, if you have already shared messages with a couple of journalists and they suggest postponing the note for a few days, give your story that space, and consider making some adjustments to guarantee the content will remain fresh.
- Quality information
Writing a piece implies, just like what happens in your Owned Media, providing value to the audience. Ergo, make sure you follow the basic rules of content:
Create an attractive structure
This is not to say that you must adhere to the same rules as an opinion piece or DIY text. Instead, try to answer the fundamental questions (who, what, when, where, why) in the language of the average reader.
Understand the medium
Remember that your message is being sent from a specific platform, therefore, it must maintain a balance between your essence as a freelance editor and the coverage areas of the media outlet, as well as the interests of a much broader audience. An accurate method of doing this is to distribute the most common keywords and terms from the platform’s posts and comments.
- Find your focus
Although in the previous point I mentioned adopting a universal approach in language, when it comes to the subject, it is important to get a little more specific:
Stick to the topic
It is not about creating the longest and best-prepared ad in the world, but rather exploring a problem or a demand from your audience in news mode so that it creates more curiosity and the users who read it can look check out your profile and website for more information about it.
Target the right audience
People who are interested in reading an article about your company will be those whose consumer behavior and personal interests align with the industry. In case your company is launching a financial solution, try to contact journalists specialized in the matter, and stipulate the section in which you want to appear.
- Create long-term relationships
The connections you create when contacting journalists are not disposable; Each collaboration serves to bring you closer to your business purposes. Caring for your relationships with journalists involves:
Giving importance to them
Just like what happens with interpersonal relationships, collaborative ties are reinforced by showing loyalty. So tacit fellowships are created in which both ends help each other to stay relevant online through simple acts with and as shoutouts in your Owned Media content.
Follow your path
Journalists often work for specific media on short-terms. Consequently, to avoid losing contact, make an invitation to follow each other through social media.
The time that collaborations between journalists and companies can last always varies. Be sure to include in your plan the networking tactics in case you have to work with a replacement from now on, as well as with editors and other team members.
What you should avoid in your relationship with the press
If you have followed the previous steps carefully, you are ready to create fruitful relationships in the press. However, because haste or excessive interest can often lead to mistakes, I wanted to dedicate a little space to talk about what not to do when contacting journalists to ensure a successful exchange.
Here is a shortlist to consider:
- Lighten the journalist’s burden: Maintain a reciprocal correspondence allowing spaces between emails without oversaturating communications.
- Maintain a polite connection above all: Mind that any disagreement with the format of the final publication escapes from the hands of the journalist. As a result, always try to maintain a friendly exchange; otherwise, you may be burning bridges permanently.
- Be patient: By submitting your press release, you give control over the text. Therefore, assume the situation by previously clarifying the key vision of the text to somewhat manage it indirectly without disturbing the contact.
Keep in mind that you can take bigger advantage of the information we just shared once you begin to apply it realistically. Don’t forget to take a look at the rest of our articles and stay up to date on new publications to expand your knowledge in marketing, public relations, branding, and digital entrepreneurship.
Finally, if you need professional advice to carry your brand image, reach out to us through our “Pricing” section and we will schedule a meeting as soon as possible.