I started my career in Public Relations during the dot.com boom of the 1990’s, when a single headline in Business Week or Forbes Magazine was enough to catapult a company from seemingly out of nowhere to a valuation worth a billion dollars or more. This was years before Blogger and LiveJournal arrived on the scene and gave companies a way to speak directly to their prospects and customers, so the only way for a business to get its message across was through the press.
A lot has changed in the 25 years since then. And though the media is no longer the gatekeepers they once were, they still wield a lot of power. A write-up in TechCrunch might not carry the same weight it once did, but the power of the press to expose a company to a whole new world of readers is something that still cannot be ignored.
The main difference is that these days, companies are more co-creators along with the press than beggars of publicity. Because of the way that blogs, podcasts, webinars and other forms of owned media have altered the landscape, businesses are in a much better position to control their own narrative. They tell the story they want to tell, the way they want to tell it and if it resonates with their audience, that’s great. However, if it also gets picked up by the press — even better!
To that end, here are six strategies we use to help our clients generate press pickup.
The media loves a good data-driven story. Numbers help them quantify their points and put them in context. While it might not be true that the numbers never lie, as they say, numbers certainly can and do point the way towards the truth.
We use first-party data as well as survey-based third-party data in order to help our clients publish research reports on the main trends affecting their industries. Not only do these reports typically generate a wave of headlines when they’re first released, but they often prove to be evergreen content that continues to get referenced time and time again for months if not years down the road.
Commentary & perspectives
More than likely, your company and its executives have a unique view on the issues affecting your industry. Whether it’s a perspective on public policy, on the latest societal trends, or on the overall direction of your industry, those are often worth sharing with the press.
A big part of the media’s job is to present both sides of an issue, which means they’re often looking for executives to quote who are either in support of something or against it. Publishing unique commentary and perspectives on what’s happening within your industry can position your executives as thought leaders and help get them quoted by the press.
While commentary and perspectives offer one form of thought leadership, there are several other ways of getting the press to see your executives as thought leaders as well.
For example, you can share their vision for the future of your industry. Or you can share best practices, whether on your industry, within your customer’s industries or at an organizational and managerial level. You can also be provocative and present a view that runs counter to the prevailing thoughts within your industry. These articles will get your executives seen as thought leaders in their space and make it easier for your PR team to line up interviews with the press.
In the cynical world we all live in, it’s difficult to take any company’s claims at face value. And the media are trained to be especially skeptical. Why should they believe what your company says when just about every other company in your space is making similar claims? But when they hear it directly from your customers, those claims tend to carry a lot more weight.
In order to gain the media’s attention, we try to write case studies for our clients that go beyond the traditional “objectives > solutions > results” format. We dive into the root cause of the problem being addressed and try to understand how it fits into a larger narrative. We look for the true breakthrough or innovation. And we try to highlight the truly original use cases that allow the press to tell an interesting story.
Speaking of cynicism, how many mission statements have you read that sound truly authentic? Now, just imagine how the press, who are trained to be skeptical, views those same mission statements. That’s why you’ve got to go beyond a basic mission statement in order to explain why your company exists.
Founder stories are often the best way to explain your company’s “why,” while also packing an emotional punch. Storytelling is crucial here. If you can show what problem your founders were trying to solve, what creative flash led to their discovery or insight and how it addresses a real need in the industry, you’ll give the media the basis for the type of storytelling that attracts readers.
The world is changing, and companies these days are expected to play a larger role in helping create an environment where diversity, equality and inclusion are the norm rather than the exception.
We help many of our clients showcase the work they’re doing to make a difference in society, and oftentimes these efforts have gotten picked up by journalists who are looking for stories about companies sparking positive change in society.
Making content and PR work smarter
Every business that uses content marketing to help educate, inform and inspire its customers and prospects these days should also be thinking about what kind of content it should be publishing that will catch the attention of the editors, journalists and media covering its space.
Follow these six strategies, and you’ll make your content marketing and public relations efforts work hand-in-hand to produce amazing results!