Jari Peltola | CEO & PR-expert | Promoted Oy
I received a pitch and invented a service from it: This is how your company can get earned media coverage
It was just a normal day in the office. I was a news editor in a Finnish financial news media, working with tens of journalists, in the middle of news alerts and often rapidly changing situations.
I followed the latest press releases, news agencies’ feeds and Twitter on behalf of journalists, so that I could tip them for valuable information.
I skipped most of the bulletins without even reading them. I didn’t feel lazy but effective. In the midst of the cacophony, professionalism is to navigate and focus only on the most newsworthy themes.
One minute I got an email that changed my life. I received a message from the Central Chamber of Commerce’s press officer in Helsinki. She told me they had additional information on the news we published earlier that morning. The unusual message stopped me because it was to-the-point and added value to our readers. We made a story about it.
Later, in developing my own public relations service, that email was one of the key lessons on how a company can boost its earned media coverage.
Our service is focused on pitching, that is, creating and providing journalists with important themes and concrete story ideas about our clients.
But what are those lessons? They can be summed up in a few rules of thumb.
1. Serve, do not try to influence
Many times, I hear the idea that journalists have to be “influenced” to get one’s message across. I would never recommend it. Journalists are very independent in their thinking and recognize the impact miles away.
A better way to approach a journalist is to serve them like a client is served. Each of us wants to buy a new cell phone or solar panels from a company that is interested in you and genuinely wants your best. Reporters are no exception. Every reporter wants to do a story that is exclusive news or has a unique perspective.
It sounds unrealistic, but in my experience quite a few companies can to provide these.
2. Give something unique
PR is part of marketing, but by nature, also a very different activity. Marketing is based on a single message that is repeated over and over again on several channels.
Media pitching is based on the opposite idea. It gives a journalist something rare or even unique that may have been created just for him and his readership.
It helps if the PR person has the ability to dress up the message as a piece of news, contextualize it, background it and even choose between different angles.
3. Your company's expertise is interesting
I know journalists as open-minded people who are happy if someone can surprise them with a new perspective.
Having said this, we all know that journalists are often not interested in the companies.
But there is another way. Companies can serve the journos by giving them a vision of how they are changing society and people’s lives. This is the angle on how many companies can get coverage for their brand in earned media.
4. Invest in the message
There is a lot of talk about the death of the bulletin. Press releases and distribution services are highly overused, but they are still a great invention.
You can approach journalists via many channels: email, distribution services, Twitter and by phone. Regardless of the channel, one rule is crucial: your message should be as interesting as possible. So, invest in the message.