Media Relations 101 - The Three Ps
Now that you’re ready to start smashing your PR by following our Five Foundations of Successful PR, it’s time to get down to business.
Let’s start by looking at media relations – this basically means how you communicate and build relationships with your target media outlets – and what I call the ‘three Ps’.
Press releases, pictures and pitching
1. Press releases
Let’s start by looking at press releases. The primary function of a press release is to share information in a format that journalists would like to receive – factual, honest and truthful content that they can repurpose for their readers.
It needs to be precise – I’d recommend no longer than one A4 side unless you’re sharing findings from a research paper, in which case you’ll probably need a bit more space. But remember that journalists edit from the bottom up.
When writing your release, think of it as an inverted triangle – the headline and the first paragraph are your key components. They will get the attention of the editor.
The headline needs to be eye-catching but summarise in one sentence what your press release is about. I’d also recommend using this is your email title.
The first paragraph needs to be a longer summary of your release but include some key details – who, what, when, why and where.
From there you can expand your release, go into a bit more detail and include quotes from key personnel and add a bit of personality into the piece.
Above all, the one rule of press releases is this – don’t be salesy.
Pictures can make or break your PR campaign, so make sure get them nailed in advance.
You’ll need to ensure you have a selection of images of both your products and yourself (sorry, but it’s true).
If you’re hoping to work with magazines, you will need lifestyle and cut out images of your products. Lifestyle basically means putting your product in a lifestyle setting – make it emotive – and show the editors why their readers will need it. A cut out is a product on a white background that can be easily pasted into an article.
They will need to be in landscape and portrait and most importantly, in colour. Most magazines work with page templates and if they have a space to fill and only one product came in with a selection of images in all sizes, guess which one they’re going to choose?
If you can provide what they need, they’re more likely to use you. Put simply, you have to put yourself in their shoes and make their job easy.
Images are best sent as jpegs and sized between 1mb and 3mb to run in print titles (small if an online edition). To avoid clogging up a journalist’s inbox or having it rejected by the server, I recommend sending them via an online platform such as WeTransfer or Dropbox.
Finally, my last tip is to always label up images. Include the product name, price or name of person – basically any information relevant to the image. And remember to credit the photographer.
Pitching is where your research really starts to come in. You should already know who your audience is, what media they are using and can therefore tailor your research to the relevant publication you’re targeting.
My biggest tip for pitching is to make it personal. Don’t send out a mass email which is impersonal and has a generic feel to it. You will get much better results by spending a little bit of time researching the journalist you’re writing to, starting a conversation and, inevitably, building a relationship with them, which is what media relations is all about.
By writing to them directly, maybe referencing another article they’ve written and showing you understand their audience, you will stand out from the crowd.
Send your press release in the morning – before they have their news meetings and if you want to follow up with a call, do so after 10/11am. But I’ll touch on that in another blog.
My advice is to avoid sending on Fridays – you run the risk of getting lost in the inbox and deleted. In my experience, Tuesdays are the best days to send but generally aim for mid-week.
So, there you have it - the three Ps which will set you sailing above your competition and kick-start your media relations journey.