GETTING THE ATTENTION OF THE WORLD’S MEDIA
It’s dead easy, you know. Tell everyone how great you are in an effusive media release. Send it to, wait for it, “The Media”, and within seconds your e-mail inbox will ping itself into a frenzy as the flood of requests for more info, or follow-up questions from fascinated reporters, pour in.
With the right topic it can work just like that; but for anything other than a dynamite, front-page news story, getting great coverage is usually the result of rather more perspiration. Not least because unless your media release is über-local, defining exactly who that shape-shifting, infinitely expanding body of content generators, rather loosely termed “The Media”, actually are, can be a real challenge.
Let’s take an example. Your company is in the finance sector, and through your own contacts you have built an initial client-base in the Middle East region. You want to raise awareness ahead of a business development trip. You have a new service which you know will be popular, if only enough people knew about it! Simple: use google to find some big newspapers in that region, send the information to them, and then wait for the resulting coverage. Sit back, and let the headlines roll!
Well, I hate to break it to you, but you will be waiting a very long time.
Look at it from the journalist’s point of view: yet another e-mail, probably about the 50th of the day, pops into their inbox, informing them about a product (of which they have never heard), sold by a company (which they couldn’t care less about), is claiming to do something interesting for their readers (who get bombarded with the self-same claims through every waking moment). That’s right, they’ll hit ‘delete’ quicker than you can type, “…I’m sure this will be of great interest to your readers.” It won’t, and the responsibility for that is entirely yours - you haven’t pitched it in the right way, at the right time to the right people.
But technology can be a truly beautiful thing. Just as a ‘quick and dirty’ google search will spit out some pointless addresses to throw your media release at, using the right software platform will allow you to investigate who the real influencers are, it will tell you how to present your material in such a way as to gain their interest, and it will guide you on how they like to be approached.
Putting that thought into the above example, you might begin by pitching via social media to a respected financial blogger based in your target region, rather than starting with obvious target of e-mailing the chief business reporter of the local newspaper, who will be drowning under the weight of unsophisticated pleas to “cover me!”
Software, and a little time and expertise, will open up a world of media contacts, who are all looking for the right content to stimulate their audiences. Twenty years ago we had a contacts book. Now, the proliferation of media, all reaching their own viewers, readers, clickers and listeners in a multiplicity of ways, means that technology must be used to solve the problem it has created. So just as it has expanded the media sources you need to consider, it also offers the means by which to filter, analyse, select and activate them.
Sitting at the heart of it all is data – our task as PR professionals is to use the technology we have to harness that data, so that the thunderstorm of information nourishes our clients’ stories rather than drowning them out.