7 ways to get media for mini milestones
Inevitably, there will be a situation where despite your counsel, you're required to support an announcement that isn’t particularly newsworthy. While this can be incredibly frustrating, with a little strategy and a dose of creativity, you can craft a story that benefits you and the reporter you’re pitching.
1. Bundle the news
Organisations love to toot their horns about big customer wins, new partnerships, programme initiations and other such items that most journalists and bloggers don’t care about. On their own, these announcements won’t get very far, but you may be able to craft a story that demonstrates meaningful progress or momentum if you bundle them together.
If you were a journalist would you cover a dozen press releases that read “Biotech ABC's Cancer Test Now Covered by XYZ Insurer” or are you going be more interested in a press release with the header, “Biotech ABC’s Breakthrough Cancer Test Adopted by 75% of US Insurers and 50% of UK Private Hospitals Within 1 Year of Launch.”
2. Leverage editorial calendars
Let’s say your announcement can’t be bundled because it’s an incremental product launch or some other standalone milestone, then use the media’s own tools – editorial calendars – to pitch your announcement into a story they’re already planning to write.
Both top-tier and trade media provide editorial calendars to guide advertisers to issues that complement their products. With that said, you can use these tools to your advantage by pitching the appropriate editor as to how your recent announcement fits into an upcoming product round-up or trend story where you could offer an industry expert to provide a perspective. It’s a good rule of thumb to target topics slated for 6 months+ from the time you pitch.
3. Scan for trends
Unless you’re an industry heavy-weight or have truly significant news, journalists and bloggers generally don’t profile a single organisation or product, they analyse what’s going on in an industry or product category in order to provide insight and perspective to their readers. If you do your research on the reporter’s style and the trend, you can craft a unique, hard-to-refuse story whilst favourably positioning your company / client.
4. Humanise the story
Nothing puts a finer point on a product or technology, like sharing how it’s helped someone overcome a tragedy or gargantuan challenge. The harder you tug on those heart strings, the more likely you are to get interest from a journalist. However, as with news, the story becomes less attractive if they see the anecdote you’re offering plastered all over the company’s website as a testimonial or previously published by another media outlet. You got to give them a fresh source.
5. Take it local
Not getting national or international attention in your human-interest story? Pitch it to the TV, radio and newspaper outlets in the city closest to where the story originated.
You can also turn this approach into its own campaign, if you have access to multiple human-interest stories that can be pitched locally. Sometimes, staggered stories reaching a regional audience is actually more effective in boosting sales than having a national story run once.
6. Go for background briefings
You can’t bundle the news, the editorial calendars are a desert, there isn’t a trend to hook into and you don’t have access to a human-interest story – what do you do?
Try to get journalists likely to write in the future invested in your company / client through in-person executive briefings. Logistically, this can be really tricky, so try to secure a top-tier or key trade as the anchor interview to schedule the rest of the day around. Anywhere from 4-6 bookings is a wild success.
The briefing approach can be a lot of work and not produce stories immediately, but it is a tremendous investment in securing quality stories in the future. People gravitate toward who and what they know so the more familiar a journalist is with an organisation, the more likely s/he is to think of it for inclusion in a future story, to call for expert comment / perspective or to cover its news.
7. Pay to Play
If all earned placements fail and there’s pressure on you to get results, pay for an advertorial. Just make sure you get the most bang for your buck by negotiating the price down (and you always can), making the layout visually dynamic or better yet, multimedia. Also, make sure social media posts are included in the package and the piece runs in a relevant issue or during a relevant time such as an awareness month or to coincide with an industry conference.
If there’s a will, there’s a way – but you have to put the time and effort in to make it happen!