It’s rare that a week goes by without the team talking about business press coverage. All clients want it, and few understand what it takes to get it.
When I first started in PR, the desire was an article in a major national newspaper, above the fold and on the right side. Now, in the digital age, the quest is a business press article authored by an influencer: a reporter with name recognition and a large social media follower list.
I think we can all agree – securing earned media today has become harder and that often starts with business press coverage.
Now, any sane (and knowledgeable) PR person will explain to their client that the business press coverage might not drive the type of website traffic and content engagement they want (which Google Analytics can easily show us). Or that the people reading The Globe and Mail might not be their buying audience (using FollowerWonk we can easily see whether social shares align with the right titles in Twitter bios). But, business press coverage does help with overall business awareness, boosts executive ego, attracts investors and keeps the board of directors happy.
Thus, we often find ourselves speaking with clients on what we’ll need to secure a hit in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post or any other top-tier outlet.
In the end, a full package to a reporter is the best course of action, and that package often includes:
Consumer messaging – Even if your client is a B2B company, you need to focus on how it impacts the Average Joe. This can include the overall human experience, jobs, quality of life, health, survival, etc. This is the most important (and most difficult) part of the package – a B2B company will rarely hook a reporter without it. No product news, no overly salesy B2B messaging, no marketing jargon.
Strong point of view – While the PR team can help formulate an argument by using data (by analyzing what people are not currently saying), they’re not the experts. Having executives that are thought leaders with a strong point of view on a topic ensures that the team is pitching an interesting topic and that reporters will have a productive interview.
Data – This doesn’t just mean survey data (yes that’s helpful too) but overall data on the market, trend or consumer issue you’re talking about (that isn’t created by your client). For example, analyzing data available on Statistics Canada is a great starting point and helps you show the reporter that there is a need and the data backs it up.
Breaking news hook – Let’s face it, reporters are strapped for time. If you can tie into a story you know they’re already writing about because it’s breaking news, you can more easily insert your client into the story. Because you’ll need to act fast, it’s always helpful to have the data and consumer messaging that aligns with your client’s point of view on hand for fast action.
Other sources – Smart clients understand that few reporters will write an entire article on just one company, especially a business press reporter. No, you’re not diluting the story by including other sources in your pitch, you’re creating the story. Show reporters that the trend goes beyond one company (your client) and you increase your chance for success.
Relevancy – Keep your eye on the Big Five: Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple and Microsoft are the most valuable global brands. First, avoid pitching on days that they’re making big announcements unless you can respond to it. This leads to the second point: jump on their breaking news with controversial/counterintuitive commentary from your client. But, for success, the tie to your client can’t be a big stretch and the commentary must be bold – there will be a ton of competition here.
Business press coverage should be part of any strategic PR plan and is an important goal to achieve for clients looking to secure additional funding, attract certain customers, establish credibility in the market and show momentum to the board. But it takes time, first to pull together all the necessary pieces for the overall package, then to secure the reporter’s interest, and finally to complete interviews, fact checking and other follow up tasks. The best chance for success is for the PR team to always be thinking about – and pushing — the business press angle and the necessary elements to the story package.
Written by Amanda Munroe, Vice-President
SHIFT Communications, sister company of NATIONAL Public Relations