A successful media relations strategy includes three major components: an excellent and up-to-date media database, compelling content and aggressive media follow up. But as you execute a strategy with these three elements, also implement these six small habits that will make a big difference in helping achieve more, better quality and ongoing media coverage.
1. Personalization. Send your news release, pitch or media invite to each media contact one at a time. Do not mass mail media communications; media should feel as if you are offering a unique and valuable opportunity and not that they are part of a “spray and pray” strategy.
2. Illustration. If you are able to provide photos or graphic illustrations that support your story, always make them easily accessible for media. Consider uploading to YouSendIt (you can open an account for free) and sharing the link to the images as a URL in the email. DO NOT send big photo attachments to media unless they request a photo.
3. Detailed Documentation. Keep notes of every media interaction – including sending an email, receiving an email response, media calls (whether speaking to a live person, voicemail or not able to reach anyone), media responses, interviews scheduled, feedback about preferences or perception of your company and products, and all resulting coverage. The more familiar you are with the habits and needs of a particular media contact or media outlet, the more chances to secure media coverage.
4. Goal Orientation Before conducting media follow-up calls, identify your desired goal or outcome. Is the goal a simple event announcement listing, a story about a new product, service or corporate initiative, a phone interview with a company spokesperson, a live interview on a TV or radio, on-location coverage of an event, etc. Once you have determined a goal, use it to craft a call to action, and incorporate that call to action in every conversion, email and voicemail during media follow up.
5. Resourceful Presentation. You are not simply asking media to do you a favor by covering your organization’s news, events, products, services and promotions. Approach each media interaction considering yourself as a valuable resource with access to news and content that helps media perform their jobs better. As media relationships grow, your company will become a valued resource media approach when they are in need of an expert. You will start to earn coverage without asking for it.
6. Ongoing Conversation. Whether media do or do not decide to cover your story, ensure you take advantage of the opportunity to learn about future opportunities when speaking with media. When the conversation is flowing and media are not on deadline, ask them to provide insight on regular sections, segments or features and who else at their organization might be interested in hearing from your company.