Media relations is one of the great, low cost marketing tools available to businesses and NPOs (Non Profit Organizations). Furthermore, it offers a variety of advantages that traditional paid advertising doesn’t.

The content of a print or broadcast story about your business – published by a news department – has more credibility than the same content used in a paid advertisement. The public continues to trust the content selected by news editors over content found in advertising.

Hopefully is the big “if” when it comes to Media Relations

From a financial perspective, media relations is tough to beat. The production costs of producing a print or broadcast advertisement is generally minimal in comparison with the high cost of placing it with any kind of frequency. Conversely, the initial cost of writing a press release is generally low – with there being little additional expense in it being submitted and hopefully appear.

However, the word, “hopefully,” is the big “if” when it comes to media relations because there is no guarantee that your story will be picked up by an editor.  The “assurance factor” of paid advertising is one of the main reasons paid advertising remains more popular. That’s why when relying on media relations to tell your story, it’s vital to make submissions that are newsworthy, appropriate to the given media outlet – and directed to the proper editor.

The definition of newsworthy

The definition of newsworthy varies from publication to publication. In order for you to know what qualifies, you must be knowledgeable of the editorial content of the media outlets you plan to solicit. Make a study of those outlets where you’d like your story to be placed and see what types of stories they use.

For example, does the newspaper you plan to solicit have a business section? If so, do they publish business briefs? What are the other business circumstances that they would consider newsworthy? Submitting an article that is in keeping with the recognized content of that news organization will give you a major advantage in getting it published. In fact, you may be surprised by the reception you get.

Building relationships with publication editors

If you’re in doubt about what types of stories editors are interested in, call and ask them. In doing so you’ll establish a relationship with that given editor. And as we all know, relationships are everything. At the very least, call the publication and find out what editor you should direct the news item to.

Email is terrific but making a phone call is much better. A phone call – whether answered by the editor or you merely receive voice mail – allows you to make a better case and potentially answer questions the editor might have.

When sending the story to the editor reference your call and preface your email message with, “Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today about…” or “Earlier today I left you a voice mail message concerning…”  Also, photos always help to sell a story. Submit good, clear shots.

Developing your editorial calendar

Following this survey you will have the knowledge you need to develop an editorial calendar. Every year I hear business owners promise themselves that they will take greater advantage of media relations opportunities as part of their overall marketing effort.

Unfortunately, these opportunities often go unfulfilled like so many other New Year resolutions unless an editorial calendar is established.

Here is an approach you might use in developing a calendar. Consider all the “news” opportunities your business might have during the course of a year. Here are some examples to help you put your calendar together…

  1. Will one or more of your employees receive some type of professional accreditation? Knowing this, you could plan on submitting one or more business briefs during the course of the year.
  2. Your company might also be involved in some charitable volunteer work – for example, a food drive. Count on submitting a photo with an expanded caption either promoting the drive or reporting its results – or both.
  3. You might also try to “pitch” or sell a story related to your industry (trends, changes, etc.) by calling the editor of a publication, radio or television station. If you do, steer clear from making the story solely about yourself.

After thinking about these various editorial ideas, develop a calendar that maps out the months you’ll plan to make these submissions and stick with it.

Media relations pays off now more than ever

This is very true given our world of digital communications. News organizations that use your press release in their print publications, radio or tv broadcasts are also posting them to their websites where  they often get picked up on blogs.

There is no greater professional satisfaction than seeing your most recent news release all over Google’s first pages (SERPs). Conversely, I’ve posted releases on blogs appropriate to the subject matter and had metro news editors pick up the story and call me for more information.

The submission of diverse news content to a variety of media outlets can create a significant amount of public awareness. Hopefully these strategies will prove helpful to you. They’ve served me well for nearly 30 years. Good luck!

Scott Grove - Grove Public RelationsScott Grove is the owner of Grove Public Relations, a marketing business he started in 1986. Prior to starting his consulting business he worked for several years as a reporter for a news oriented radio station. sgrove@grovepr.com

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