Friday, October 16, 2009

It's the Relationship, Not the Release, That Will Get You the Story

It's the Relationship, Not the Release, That Will Get You the Story

A while back, I presented 20 tips for creating a quality media release - but I did you a disservice. I neglected to mention of of the biggest secrets to getting your story covered in the paper or on the TV or radio news: It's the relationship you create with the reporter, not the release, that will get you the story.

Here's the thing most people don't realize. The media needs you! They really do. Think about it - unless it's a breaking news story (usually about something dire and disaster-y) or sports, virtually all news stories are planned, written, and/or recorded ahead of time. Where do you think the reporters get their stories? From people just like you.

Now the tips listed here will certainly help you discern what might be newsworthy about your business or industry - but the reporters and editors and producers still need to hear from you to learn about your stories and events. That means you've got to contact them. But did you realize that if you're relying on a media release to do the trick for you, you're rolling the dice that YOUR release will stand out among the hundreds, if not thousands of other releases these reporters, editors, and producers receive in a day or a week.

So how can you stand out among such a crowded, crowded field?

Get to know the reporters who specialize in your industry. You do this by staying on top of the news of your industry and then making yourself a resource to those reporters. A friend of mine was a Phoenix financial planner, and a member of the Financial Planners Association of Phoenix. They circulated a memo to all the members (there were several hundred at the time) asking for planners who would be willing to make themselves available to the media when they called for expert opinions and the like. Guess how many even responded to the offer? TWO. I still can't get over that. Gifted an opportunity to become a media expert (and darling), and all of these people turned it down. Maybe it's that whole left-brain thing ... or the fact that they never learned the value of PR as a marketing tool.

Some easy ways to start building relationships with reporters:
  • Read what they write/report.
  • Offer feedback on their stories. This doesn't mean telling them all the reasons they're wrong - but if you can word it well, offering a new angle is a good way to make a connection. Something like, "I liked your story on brown cows, but was wondering if you've ever heard or considered ____________."
  • Follow them on social media sites like twitter - and offer feedback when they post.
  • Don't be afraid to pick up the phone.
Think about your most valuable relationships. I'm willing to bet they didn't start yesterday - that they took some time, energy, and effort to build. Your relationships with members of the media are no different. But if you can become that invaluable resource - without becoming a pain in the ass - they will come to rely on you as an expert, and you will start to see your stories get covered.

All of marketing is about building relationships, and PR is all about who you know, not how many releases you submit.

For answers to your questions about writing, editing, marketing, or design e-mail Laura or visit Write |
Market | Design, where we specialize in teaching our writers to think like marketers!

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