Blake Waggoner

Congrats! Your brand has developed a new product line that you can’t wait to tell the world about, as you believe it will completely change the industry. Your team crafts a press release, anticipating a marching band parading down the street to greet this new product, in addition to the infinite amount of media coverage you will receive. The release is to be sent to any and all press contacts your brand has. But then...

Crickets.

Every good brand has a story to tell, but it’s only as good as its storyteller. Often, brands define public relations as simply putting out a news release, then are disappointed when it results in minimal to no media coverage.

Carefully crafted narratives rooted in strategy are what make brand stories thrive and live on long after a successful PR pitch. In short, a good public relations strategy occurs when your brand steps back and looks at the larger narrative.

It’s that bigger picture approach that will help your brand get the coverage it desires and deserves. In order for you to achieve impactful results, you must ask yourself some critical questions before you even click send on that news release or pick up the phone to call a reporter.

What is your goal?

Do you think PR is writing that release and hitting send?

Sorry to rain on your PR parade, but you’re wrong.

Before you hit send, take a more strategic approach around your brand’s public relations activities. Too often public relations is used as a tactical tool that is bolted onto a larger project—leading to no results.

To determine your goal, ask yourself what you want to achieve from your PR. Do you want to simply make your presence known within an industry or space? Does your brand wish to showcase itself or its employees as thought leaders? Do you want to highlight the positive impact your brand is having on the community or the world?

Determining why you want to include public relations is necessary before you begin any PR activities.

Who is your audience?

We all want to learn about your new product that is going to change the world, right? Well, sure, as we all admire awesomeness. But some will like your awesomeness more than others.

As you begin to think about your public relations strategy, noodle on who will care the most about your brand’s news. Is it the sales executive of a B2B client, or the busy working family that will see a time savings because of your new product?

It would be too easy to assume that your brand’s existing industry is always going to be the industry that cares, so rethink if there are additional industries that may find your news interesting or relevant. Answering these questions will assist your brand in determining the language used in your release and following pitch.

Once you have defined the who and what, you’ve created an audience that will help establish which type of news outlet and reporters will want to pick up on your media pitch.

Who do I get in front of?

Your brand stands a greater chance of getting that heralded media coverage if you think about the type of story you are pitching, the desired news outlet and reporter. In doing so, the odds of your earth-shattering news being shared will drastically increase.

First, be realistic with yourself when asking if your story is national, regional or local news. Should you approach a larger, more general news outlet or a more industry-specific trade publication? Keep in mind that the industry-specific publications will have less coverage area, but a higher return if your brand’s story is appropriate for an outlet with a trade or industry focus.

Is your brand’s news timely or tied to a larger current event or issue? If it’s time sensitive, you will want to emphasize its timeliness in your release and when you to reach out to reporters. The same is true if your brand’s news is related to an ongoing current event or issue; be sure that the content and language reflects as such. The more timely or relevant the brand’s story is, the shorter the pitch cycle is, meaning that you should not wait weeks to write, send and pitch your story. Be nimble, but be strategic.

Some public relations pitches are not as timely and more geared toward a longer, feature-type piece. Your brand must ask if your story is best aimed at a hard-hitting news angle or feature. A feature is best used when telling your origin story, explaining the evolution of your brand or a longer explanation into how your product or service is a game changer.

Once you’ve determined the type of publication and story, do your research on the reporter or reporters you want to cover your news within the desired outlet. This sounds like standard practice, but a majority of folks fail to find the reporter that has written or covered topics similar to the one they’re pitching.

Are reporters my friends?

You may not routinely grab a coffee or happy hour beer with the reporters you’re pitching, but that doesn’t mean you should be adversarial in your approach. If you have asked the right questions and thought strategically about your pitch, it’s likely that a reporter will be interested in covering your brand’s story.

It is important that you protect your brand when pitching a reporter, but be a partner. This means being honest when pitching, providing further information to add additional context and asking what his or her deadline is for writing the story.

Enjoy the coverage!

See, that wasn’t so hard, was it? By not just sending a blanket press release, but thinking strategically about your public relations, your brand gained the attention it deserved.