Hitting the headlines

~ How to get more national coverage ~
How to get more national media coverage

National media coverage is a bit like the food in a Michelin restaurant – delicious, but you’re always left wanting more. If you think national media coverage is reserved for high profile brands and international companies, I’ve got some fantastic news: much like posh restaurants, national papers will let just about anyone in as long as they tell the right story. And yes, you can get national media coverage without breaking the bank. In our final twelve days of blogging post, we share a few tips to make 2016 the year of national media coverage for SMEs.

By Charlie Stroe

Read the papers
I mean really pay attention. National journalists are very busy people who work hard and rarely have a moment to themselves. To make their lives easier, you should take some time to get to know them. Understand the publications they write for, the pace of publication, the themes they cover and the audiences they address. Try to gain a better understanding of the publication profile and the angles it would be interested in covering.

Take The Guardian, for example. Although it dedicates a few pages to news stories, it mostly focuses on opinion pieces. What does this mean for you and your business? Well, for one thing, it means there is no point in pitching your latest product press release to the paper because it wouldn’t be featured in a million years.

As a rule, national newspapers are unlikely to cover press releases anyway. You might as well spend your time trying to convince your cat to become vegetarian.

Alternatively, there is much better way to spend your time instead. Make a list of relevant national journalists and familiarise yourself with their interests, articles and background. Then think of how you can link your story to topics and agendas they are likely to write about. Remember, when speaking to national journalists, you’re not selling a product - you’re telling a story. But you’re also selling a story.

Letters and features
So, if press releases don’t get national coverage, what does? The answer is as simple as a two-pronged fork: letters and features contributions.

Letters should be short, clever and authored by a high profile individual in your company. Around 200 words give you enough space to add true value to a topic, so stick to the limit. Remember, you’re speaking to busy people, so keep it short and to the point.

The other fantastic thing about letters is that many national papers, including the Financial Times, have entire pages dedicated to them! If you take ten minutes to read the news every morning, there’s a good chance you’ll spot a few letter opportunities. Just remember to send them to the journalist before noon on the day, otherwise it will be too late for the next print run.

Features contributions are journalist requests for quotes, interviews and expert background information for commissioned articles they are working on. There’s more than one way to bake a cake, so take your pick. You could look for regular columns and pitch something bespoke to the journalist responsible. Alternatively, you could search for #journorequest or #PRrequest on Twitter and respond that way.

You could also subscribe to a features contribution service like ResponseSource or Source Bottle. Some of these are free of charge, although we personally find that the paid-for subscriptions are much more useful and efficient.

Hire an agency
Last, but not least, you could always get a PR agency to apply these tactics on your behalf and get more national press coverage. This way, you could be dining in the metaphorical national media coverage restaurant more often than you think!

PS: This was the last post in Stone Junction’s twelve days of blogging initiative that we hope has kept you entertain over the winter holidays. Starting tomorrow, we will go back to our usual one blog post per week, so we don’t take too much valuable space in your Inbox as 2016 gets underway. That is, unless you tell us you would like to hear form us more often, in which case we will make an effort just for you!

Charlie Stroe

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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