Reporters today are under more pressure than ever. Newsrooms are short staffed, reporters are juggling several different beats and are under extreme pressure to deliver “eye-catching” headlines, within very tight deadlines. To add to this, many of today’s news outlets measure and evaluate reporters’ stories strictly on number of click-throughs and website traffic resulting from their articles.
Therefore, when it comes to media relations, PR professionals need to be more resourceful and timelier than ever when engaging with the media. Below are a few quick tips and best practices for improving media relations in the B2B tech space:
1. Tell a story that’s relatable
There is no ‘one size fits all’ formula for media relations success. It requires a keen eye to understand the reporter, their audience and ultimately, what makes them tick. Once you’ve identified the audience you’re targeting and have a good understanding of what they’re interested in—and what excites them—then you can tailor a pitch that will resonate.
When engaging with reporters, it is critical that the insight and information that you’re bringing forward is something new, on a topic that will speak to the publication’s readers. For instance, a story for The Wall Street Journal’s business audience is going to be very different than one you pitch to an HR trade magazine.
Knowing publication audiences, and how your company fits into their trending conversations and topics is key in building a successful media relations program, especially at the business press level.
2. Be a thought leader
Having a pulse on the broader industry landscape is critical for media relations. B2B tech companies especially need to establish a strong understanding and awareness of the business and tech trends impacting their industry and market. This includes breaking news, M&A activity, market developments, etc. Staying on top of the news agenda will keep you well positioned to comment on timely trends and offer expert thought leadership to fit your company into the bigger business story.
As reporters begin to recognize your company and its spokespeople as a resource for insights and opinion, they will start to come to you for thought leadership and commentary when breaking news topics arise.
3. Timing is everything
While reporters appreciate an evergreen statistic or quote they can lean on, they are always on the hunt for the latest news. Stay ahead of stories and be proactive when it comes to breaking conversations. Industry events (Apple’s conferences, CES, Dreamforce), holidays (Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday, etc.) and major announcements are great ways to proactively insert your company into current trends and conversations ahead of time.
For example, do you have interesting stats on online shopping? Tie it to the upcoming Back-to-School season or tease data ahead of holiday shopping.
4. Less theoretical, more practical
For B2B tech companies, media want to hear less about theory and more about real life applications. Whether its case studies, customer use cases or data, they want the hard facts to tell a story and paint a picture of an issue. This concrete information helps provide legitimacy to the commentary from your company’s executives.
Evergreen story ideas have their place in the media relations process, but to turn your pitches into coverage, there must be a timely hook. Business press especially want to talk about what companies are doing now, the data that support the results today and what its telling us about the future.
5. Focus on building relationships, not just pitching
Think of media relations as networking. Don’t just focus on the single pitch you’re sending out on today’s news, but use each email as a chance to build a rapport with the journalist. And don’t be shy! Ask a reporter out for coffee or lunch the next time you’re in their city/or town. Events are also a great way to “meet-and-greet” with media. This face-time can be critical in building that relationship.
Think about it from your perspective, are you more likely to respond to an email from someone you have met or from a faceless name on a computer? In-person introductions are also a great way to learn more about the reporter, their interests and beat so you can send more informed, insightful pitches in the future. Use that time as an opportunity to ask questions on the editorial direction of the publication, the kind of trends they’re currently focused on and learn how they’re being measured.
You never know where one touchpoint could lead – especially as reporters’ beats and coverage areas change. Getting to know your media influencers more closely can also open the door for new opportunities with other journalists. For instance, reporters can introduce you to colleagues within their network or across their publication. Being able to humanize the relationship and getting to know reporters on a 1:1 basis will ensure your company and spokespeople are top of mind and a go-to source for their coverage. Plus, it can be fun too!
6. Use social media to your advantage
Journalists today are living and breathing on Twitter. In order to boost your media engagement, start by sharing stories your key targets are writing on social media and tag the journalist, not just the outlet. Journalists rely on social media for publishing and promoting their own content. You can help them get more visibility by promoting their work and helping them reach a wider audience.
You can even comment on topics or trends – which could lead to further conversation or even inclusion in a story. This is a great way to engage with them directly and join the conversation seamlessly. For B2B companies, you can also encourage your spokespeople and CEOs to retweet, DM and engage with reporters on Twitter and LinkedIn directly. This can help further a relationship and establish him/her as a go-to resource that is thoughtful, approachable and easy to reach.
Media relations is all about relevance, timing and consistency. Building your company as a go-to source with the media takes time and starts primarily in telling a story that resonates with the people you’re engaging with and working to form and maintain relationships with the media and influencers in your industry.
This article originally appeared on the PAN Communications blog; reprinted with permission.