How to land media coverage without a press release

It takes a long time to pitch press releases to reporters, and it’s all for nothing if they don’t run your story. Here are four easier ways to land coverage.

When you put a lot of time and effort into a news release, it can be frustrating when you can’t reach a journalist or when a target publication turns down your story.

You’ve wasted hours with no results to show your boss or client, and you have to keep pushing as other work piles up.

Most businesses would like positive newspaper or magazine coverage, but only the best stories make it in an increasingly competitive arena. And now, many companies are not suited to a traditional news release approach. This may be because data or case studies are not available, no new services or products are in the pipeline, or the particular industry is flooded.

Whatever the reason, your client or boss wants media coverage and you have to find a story. Instead of forcing a non-issue or, much worse, fabricating figures, public relations consultants should manage clients’ expectations and use the most appropriate method to gain coverage.

One approach is to have a company spokesperson interview or comment for a planned feature. This illustrates the individual’s expertise and shines a light on the business as an authority in its field. That can be more efficient than spending time and energy on news releases.

Here are four ways to gain media coverage without a news release:

1. Read editorial calendars or forward features lists.

Editorial calendars list articles that publications plan to run, often 12 months in advance. Whether you use a specialized paid-for service, contact a features editor directly, or find the list on a publication’s website, carefully think about what facts, figures, analysis and advice your client can bring to the feature. Have a frank discussion with the assigned journalist about what the publication requires to make sure you secure the opportunity.

2. Watch for media requests.

The agency I work for is registered with a journalist inquiries system, which means I receive emails with requests for planned features. The range of inquiries is huge, and it’s important to quickly respond to something relevant. Subscribe to Help a Reporter Out (HARO) if you haven’t already.

3. Scan Twitter.

Journalists and bloggers use Twitter to request sources. As I mentioned in a previous article on Spin Sucks, #journorequest is a great hashtag to watch.

4. Build and maintain relationships.

When you gain a new client, it doesn’t hurt to call a reporter to introduce yourself, the client, and any key individuals available for interviews and comments. On one occasion I found an opportunity for a client to provide industry advice on a monthly basis-what a win!

Also, if a journalist covers a relevant story or wrote about a competitor, let him or her know you exist and can help next time.

Keredy Andrews is a senior account manager at Punch Communications. A version of this article originally ran on Spin Sucks.

Topics: PR

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