But how do you reach this goal? You must understand the 2013 media landscape and how it relates to you, your audience and potential buyers and your company or client. The two most effective media relations tactics are inbound and real-time media relations.
Do not smile and dial
The smile and dial approach consists of calling and pitching to multiple reporters and hoping that eventually one or two will be interested in your story. The smile and dial approach may have worked for you in the past. You may have even called enough reporters to find someone to cover your story, but this is not the best approach for today’s media environment.
When looking at this media tactic from a reporter’s point of view, you are interrupting his or her busy day to pitch a story that might not relate to the news he or she covers. The smile and dial tactic does not build a strong relationship with the media. It simply gives PR professionals a bad reputation.
While working in media relations, you must keep in mind that your relationship with the media is your foundation and how you are able to function. Building effective long-term relationships with the media is not done through interruptive tactics like smile and dial.
The media landscape is now 24/7, which means the media relations landscape is 24/7 as well. It is focused on real-time events that are happening in the moment. Therefore, two main approaches to media relations that work well in the 24/7 media environment are inbound media relations and real-time media relations.
Inbound media relations
Inbound media relations is closely related to inbound marketing. The term Inbound marketing was created by HubSpot and refers to a shift away from an interruption based marketing strategy to an inbound or pull based marketing strategy that attracts interested audiences to the marketing message.
The main benefit of inbound marketing is that once your target audience is ready to research your product or service or ready to buy it, they are able to find you. One of the best ways to utilize inbound marketing is by having a blog that is full of valuable information that your target audience will want to read.
You can adapt the same tactic to reach journalists and bloggers. Your blog can function as your own media channel, which allows you to post your own news, ideas or research regularly. A blog allows you to publish content without the support of the media and puts publishing control in your hands.
Using inbound media relations correctly also positions you as a knowledgeable resource. Journalists or other bloggers who read your blog posts may want to interview you or quote you in their stories, all without pitching your story.
When using inbound media relations consider these steps:
1. Create a list of all the stories you would like to write about: This list should contain the stories you would like journalists to write about, but also stories that you are interested in.
2. Play the part of the journalist and write the stories yourself: Concentrate on using the inverted pyramid style of writing. In your first couple of paragraphs answer the questions who, what, why, when, where and how. Having your stories formatted this way will make them easier to read and more appealing to journalists.
3. Do research to help support your content: Remember what your target audience is interested in and support it with related content.
4. Keep your blog’s content balanced: Understand that you must balance what people are searching for and what you want to communicate. Focus on having content that is most important to your organization in your blog for support.
5. Constantly produce new content: In order to use inbound media relations in the best way, you must regularly produce a good quantity of content, but also have it be high quality.
6. Conduct reader research: Your readers will love some of what you write and they’ll hate some of it. Use Google Analytics to note what your readers search to find your content and write more relating to that subject. Also read their comments and if they are talking about a subject you have not written about yet, write about it.
7. Never stop building your audience: Do this through subscriptions and a large amount of contact and communication throughout your online community.
8. Make yourself available to journalists and bloggers: Make it easy to request an interview with you or just to speak with you.
Following these steps and slowly incorporating this tactic into your existing plan will put you in a better position to generate publicity without having to pitch stories to journalists.
And you will be well on your way to transitioning from interruption based media relations to inbound media relations.
Real-time media relations
Real-time media relations, real-time PR, or “newsjacking,” is the process of introducing your story ideas or spokespeople into the news cycle. It is fast paced and the most exciting type of media relations. While it requires less patience and waiting time than inbound media relations, it requires more work. In order to use real-time media relations correctly, you must constantly be aware of everything that is happening in the media world, in real-time.
Keep these steps and tips in mind when using real-time media relations.
1. Find the most prominent news sources in your industry: These news sources are the media outlets that reach the most people in your target audience.
2. Identify the topics you are able to speak about: Make a list of news events that would create an opportunity for you to be interviewed or offer a comment. Watch for subjects that closely relate to your business.
3. Prepare a contact list: With your top media outlets in mind, create a contact list for all of these outlets that you can keep on hand. Contact these outlets to make yourself and your business known to them. Developing a connection with different outlets will increase your chances of having them call you if a story in your field develops.
4. Utilize the inbound media relations steps: Write your own stories that highlight your knowledge and expertise. These stories will work as a strong background for you or your clients when asked for an interview. Instead of pitching your story, you can share the link to your already written story and then offer an immediate comment.
5. Be Prepared: Write media responses in advance and prepare what you might say if a specific event or story occurs. Preparing your responses or sound bites beforehand will help heighten the quality of your responses and have journalists see you as a reliable source.
6. Develop a plan: Make a list of all the types of stories that you might see on the news that you or your spokesperson could comment on. Prepare a response plan and pitches in advance, which enables your staff to quickly respond to stories as they’re happening.
7. Learn to adapt to what you did not expect: There is no way to plan for everything, but strive to be the most reliable and flexible organization possible. If an opportunity to create publicity presents itself, you must be able to respond quickly and seamlessly.
Developing your inbound and real-time media relations approaches will allow you to better serve your organization or client. Today’s 24/7 media environment requires media relations professionals to adapt to various situations and embrace new ways of generating publicity.