Tips on DIY media outreach

Finding the right media contact is not an easy task, especially as of late, with media continually evolving  and reporters changing roles and outlets.  One would think that it would be easier given the digital media landscape with information literally at our  finger tips – but that’s not necessarily the case. Twitter accounts with profiles descriptions such as “Ottawa Citizen Reporter” are not overly helpful in finding the right media contact at The Citizen to share your story, am I right?

In a perfect world, reporters would update their social media accounts with bio information that described what they cover in more detail. Here are a few examples of Ottawa Citizen reporters who do this well.  (Most reporters from the Citizen and other outlets also do this well – we chose these three examples – there are others.  In addition, many twitter accounts for media outlets also provide twitter lists of their reporters by topic).  

At a quick glance, you can tell if your story is the right fit for these reporters:

Image of Janet Wilson's twitter profileImage of Pauline Tam's Twitter profileSome even provide email addresses to share story ideas and invite followers to other social media channels as in this last example.

Image of Meghan Hurley's Twitter profile

3 Steps to a Successful Pitch  

Beyond the obvious of delivering news value, the key to pitching  is to understand reporters and what they’re really looking for. I recommend that if you want to dabble in DIY media outreach, that you follow these three steps.

  1. Read the tweets and Facebook updates from media outlets.
  2. Watch the conversations being created around the news that is being reported.  Follow Twitter feeds. Be an observer of news for your industry.
  3. Follow the source of the news. Find the names of the reporters who cover your specific topic and search for articles by those reporters.  Subscribe to their feeds. Get a sense of their writing style, what they do and do not cover to better target your pitch.

One last thing…

When pitching a story idea, it’s important to understand the life of a reporter. Here is a link to an older post you might find helpful, or at the very least – insightful.  http://storylinepr.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/a-reporters-job-and-yours/

Reporters, I ask you this…

Wouldn’t it be nice to read ONLY pitches on topics you cover? Granted, this approach of full disclosure on social media profiles, may open the floodgates to more pitches. It will also not stop the non-news marketing pitches being disguised as press releases, nor will it stop those who do not do their homework, but don’t you think it will lessen the number of times you have to hit the delete key? Who knows – there may be gem or two in there that you would have not otherwise received!

10 tips for building your online newsroom

In a recent issue of ePRnews, we featured some key benefits and quick tips for building an online newsroom on your website. Since then, we’ve received calls & emails from our readers asking to learn more, so we thought we would post those checklist items with a little more detail here to benefit all.  

Image of news headline

Here are a few facts to you should know up front 

  • Social PR communications tools are vital in today’s digital media landscape.  As journalists have converged into the digital realm, creating a content rich and up-to-date online newsroom is key.
  • Online newsrooms provide journalists and editors with background information that’s needed to develop accurate and timely news stories.
  • Statistics tell us that journalists and editors are searching the web for information on companies, just like yours, more and more everyday. If that isn’t motivation enough to get your online newsroom up to snuff,we don’t know what is!

We hope you find a couple of good nuggets of information on what to include in order to build an effective online newsroom.

Continue reading

5 ways to issue your news

image of airplane folded newspaper Issuing regular, professionally written news releases will open doors to the media and can have positive outcome on your business. But before putting pen to paper, think about how you want to issue your news. 

News releases are often lumped together as one single PR tool, however, there are different types of news releases with subtle differences in how they convey your message to the media. Continue reading

getting engaged

Public Relations, by definition, includes ongoing activities to ensure your company has a strong public image. Just as media is finding its way with a new online business model, so must business. Social media has re-defined PR and helped shape how companies can leverage their online reputation. It’s all about is creating content that captures media and target audiences while addressing your business goals. There are many elements of PR that can help you do this with the net effect of increasing website traffic, optimizing search engine rankings, and ultimately creating new business. Here are few… Continue reading

the joke’s on who, exactly?

I’m all for companies who issue releases that provide a little humour for the entertainment value on April Fool’s Day – as long as it is obvious and all good and all in fun. In fact, some organizations have been pretty clever this year…

Yesterday, LinkedIn listed under “People You May Know” the likes of Albert Einstein, J.R.R. Tolkien, Sherlock Holmes and Robin Hood. Google was having a little fun too. If you typed “Helvetica” in the Google search box, your font would change to Comic Sans. They went as far to announce a new technological advance in its popular Gmail application, motion-controlled email.

Some companies went a little further (and over the top in my humble opinion).  Virgin announced its company founder Richard Branson had bought Pluto in order to reinstate it as a planet. Ikea released its ‘newest product’ via YouTube video: The Hundstol, or dog high chair, which confused consumers who asked about availability.

There’s a belief that all publicity is good publicity… but is it really?

I believe that ‘news’ should be exactly that… Continue reading

5 reasons to take a closer look in your own backyard

The majority of my clients are Ottawa-based who are looking to get their news in the hands of local media. When I encourage them to have their release translated to French to send to the French media outlets as well, it amazes me that this is most often overlooked.
The reason this is so quickly dismissed comes down to the notion that it costs more.  The truth of the matter is that the majority of the budget associated with developing a PR campaign has already been spent.  The cost to develop a strategy, key messaging, creating the release for distribution to the Ottawa market is complete. Having the release translated and sent to a targeted list of French media outlets is a small fraction of the budget.
I persuade clients to consider the French media for several reasons. The most obvious reason is that when communicating their news  to a broader market, they reach a wider audience that is practically in their backyard.  Here are few more:
  1. It’s cost effective – the hard work is already done
  2. It generates traffic – be it new customers or online visits
  3. You’ll gain recognition over time in new untapped communities
  4. You’ll build your business brand in undiscovered niche markets
  5. You’ll build relationships – not only with the audience but also with the media
Now that you have 5 reasons to take a closer look in your own backyard, so why not consider creating your next release – en français?

the truth about the newsroom – straight-up!

WARNING: What follows is a harsh reality that may offend some readers.  Viewer discretion is advised.

Ask reporters what they want from pitch to coverage – their top-ten list might look something like this:

  1. Do your homework. Know exactly what I do and do not cover. Don’t waste my time and I won’t waste yours.
  2. When you pitch, show me you have taken the time to find out what I’m interested in and compose a note meant to appeal to me.
  3. Please be accessible once you pitch your story. Your marketing manager is not a suitable substitute.
  4. Return my phone call – even if you’re just calling to tell me you don’t know the answers to my questions! I work to a deadline.
  5. Make it easy for me to cover your story – send me multimedia that will add to your news.
  6. “Speak my language.” Don’t talk in jargon or industry-speak. I know you’re smart – that’s why I’m interviewing you. If I don’t understand you, then I can’t explain it to my readers, (listeners / viewers)
  7. Give me a quote to punch up my story. And remember, nothing is off the record – so please don’t tell me what I can and cannot use.
  8. It’s OK to follow up – but please don’t call to ask me if I received the press release you just sent. I have them by the hundreds in my inbox… and yours was which one exactly? When you do follow up, pitch your idea in 30 seconds or less and add some value to the contents of the release. Oh, and please don’t call me when I’m filing my stories. One word… “Deadline”
  9. I get that you want coverage, otherwise you wouldn’t be contacting me, but don’t send your news release to three other reporters I work with too! What’s worse is if I find out you pitched the same story to every media outlet in the city – I’ll kill the story.
  10. Don’t ask me why I’m not running with your story. I’m answerable only to my editor. It’s likely because it lacked real substance and news value. I report news. Period.

What reporters really want is usually pretty simple. They want their calls returned, a quote for their story and they want to do their job and go home.   Read more…

creating a healthy balance for news and SEO

Reporters are trained to write balanced articles and similarly, a healthy balance in writing a quality optimized news release will garnish significant traffic from potential clients, interest from editors and higher overall rankings on your selected keywords.

There is a fine balance. To successfully rank highly in search engines and with journalists, the words in your news release should never be an afterthought, but rather, a strategic investment in your search engine optimization campaign.

Choose your words carefully. Adding keywords for the sake of SEO create awkward headlines and body copy which results in diminished news value and unnatural content. Ensure keywords are sprinkled methodically to produce a legitimate outcome. Too many keys words can and will work against you and the wrong keywords won’t add a thing to your story.

Everything in moderation. Excessive use of back links scream “spam” and have journalists reaching for the delete key faster than the first sentence can be read. One back link to a relevant page on a website, (preferably to a newsroom), integrating a good mix of information and multi-media into a single set of results is best. If a journalist or blogger wants to read more –this is where they should find it.

Quality over quantity. Have a sound news release distribution strategy in place and make an effort to get it in the hands of journalists and influencers who have a genuine interest in your story. There are several ways to reach them – but do shy away from directories, (AKA free press release sites). You can do a more efficient job at distributing your news than a release directory can.

An optimized news release can be an extremely effective marketing tool and when created with balance in mind, you will not only build traffic and interest from editors, but also your online reputation.

what’s your story? here’s mine.

I’ve been getting a lot of resistance from fellow PR pros on introducing a new concept. My clients think it’s a great idea and I am still of the mind that it would be a great option for small and medium-sized businesses, (who are my target market), to enter the PR game. The concept is a pay for placement.  In addition to fee structures that I currently offer… retainer and by project, I am introducing a “pay for play” pricing model as an option. Essentially this will include a base fee, (to cover the up-front costs of campaign development), plus a fee associated with the type of media attained. Continue reading