I spoke with a journalist friend the other day about the demise of the tech media and other things PR related, and it got me to thinking. Below are a few good tips on getting publicity cheaply–without a PR firm.
1. In the web world, think pyramid.
Identify your target pub on the web and focus on it. A story at a top-tier website will very likely populate the lower tier websites in the lower levels of the media food pyramid. Lots of blogs and lower tier media sites simply write stories repeating what the higher order sites have already said.
2. It’s about NEWS for chrissake!
Don’t forget that even in the age of blogs and new media, serious media outlets still need news–exclusive news that their competition doesn’t have. In focusing on your top-tier site, offer them an exclusive. In your email subject line and body pitch, make it clear that you are offering them an exclusive first shot at your news. Offering exclusivity really improves your chances of being published.
And with the traditional media, if you have a small news item (perhaps nothing special but you still want some coverage), try calling a copy editor or someone lower on the totem pole. Say hello and then say something like,”Who do I talk to about news?”. Don’t start babbling about your product or service–just give a one sentence pitch and follow up with an email and press release (paste the release in the email body rather than attach to avoid virus filters and making a journalist open up yet another pdf). That’s it. People lower on the totem often have to screen through thousands of items for news-in-brief sections, and your item may just make it if you do it right.
3. It takes more than a press release
Please realize that these days press releases never get coverage on their own. You’ll have to follow-up via email, or phone, or singing telegram. Press releases are still required, and are often used by reporters (sometimes nearly verbatim), but unless you are a big boy they won’t get coverage on their own. You can almost think of press releases as mere articles of record that reside on your company’s website.
4. For a big story, make a big juicy burger
Someone once told me that PR was like offering a hungry reporter a good burger. The reporter could labor to gather the ingredients and cook it themselves, or a good PR person could deliver them a delicious burger ready to eat. If you’re going after a big feature story or trend piece, line up all the ingredients: at least three customer interviews, any juicy relevant statistics, and try to have a third party in the mix to validate what you and your customers are saying. The reporter may not eat the whole burger, but at least they’ll have a full selection of story elements to choose from when writing the final piece. And remember, make it look good too. Get your brand name customers to go on the record, and look for customers and statistics that make the story compelling, something that people want to read.