We all want the opportunity to share our stories – and as creatives, we have great stories to share! Maybe you’re opening a new company that fills a need in your city, maybe you’re launching a new product, or maybe you’re creating a campaign that will impact others beyond your brand. You know there is something special there, but you don’t know how to tell it to the masses. You can share via e-mail marketing efforts, social media, word of mouth and more, but there is one form of communications that sometimes we don’t think of: public relations, and specifically media relations!
So often we see amazing features in the newspaper, unique stories on TV and even editorials in magazines showcasing new businesses, initiatives and products. Those third party endorsements from a well-respected media outlet are so valuable and can elevate our brand while introducing our story to new audiences. However, what many people don’t realize is that journalists often rely on others to connect them to some of the most interesting, timely and unique stories.
The first time I ever heard this quote, I realized how much it played a role into the mindset of public relations. David Ogilvy, fondly called “The Father of Advertising,” said: “If you want to be interesting, be interested.” In public relations, it’s our job to be interested in what a reporter, newspaper or media outlet is searching for, in order to provide them with a story that fits their niche and needs. Prior to pursuing photography, I served some amazing brands while working at a public relations agency and learned key elements to crafting a story worth telling.
Here are 5 tips for telling your story to gain key media coverage
1. Find your angle: The key to pitching a good story is to find an angle that is timely, relevant, unique and worth telling. The same story can be told from multiple different angles to different media outlets. Take the story of the Rising Tide Society for example: this month we will celebrate 1 year since the first 12 cities met across the nation, and now we have nearly 300 cities across the world a part of our movement. The angle of the story would be told differently in one of the original 12 cities compared to a city that is launching its first meet up this month!
2. Do your research: It’s important to research media outlets extensively to find the best fit for your story. We could pitch the Rising Tide Society story to a weekly local business newspaper, but it might not fit as well in a national industry specific magazine dedicated to banking or agriculture. Likewise, finding the best journalist within the media outlet is crucial. Research their interests and previous articles – perhaps a journalist at your local paper does a weekly segment on business owners. They would be a great person to reach out to, instead of the sports or entertainment reporter, when sharing your story! More than anything: aim to build a long-term relationship with them instead of a one-time partnership. Remember, if you show you care and are interested in them, you’re much more likely to be interesting and considered a resource for future articles!
3. Provide the entire package: As creatives, we understand the hustle of a constant influx of e-mails – and boy it can be overwhelming! Reporters feel the same thing! Craft a concise and informative press release and include access to available images, an offer for an interview, and necessary contact info. By offering everything they need from the start, we help eliminate extra (time-consuming!) steps!
4. Draft talking points: You’ve secured an interview! Congrats! Now, the preparation begins – create a list of talking points to guide you during your interview. Review them prior to your interview and if you’re interview is via phone, you can even have them in front of you to make sure you showcase the most important elements! You’ll feel an added level of confidence in knowing you’ve touched on the high points when all is said and done!
5. Follow up: When I worked at the PR agency, we aimed to send a hand-written thank you note after every piece was published. It’s a small gesture of thanks that stands out in today’s busy, tech-centered world! This is one more opportunity to continue building a relationship with the reporter, and they may just come back to you when they are looking for a feature for anything from a holiday gift guide to a highlight on creative small business owners in the city.
More than anything, remember that public relations and media outreach is about telling your story in a new and unique way that ultimately creates a third party endorsement for your brand! By living out “community over competition” in even our media outreach, we can remember that journalists need great stories just as much as we’d like our stories to be told! Be confident in knowing your story is worthy and get out there and tell it!