Does this sound familiar: your communications department has fine-tuned a press release to perfection and launched it to wide distribution, perhaps already contacting journalists along the way. Hours pass, but there's no sign of press coverage. At this point, concerns start to arise if something went awry technically or some other way.
Despite the best efforts of PR professionals, often press coverage simply fails to appear. So, how do you ultimately break through and reach those journalists you've been submitting to? Here are a few tips PR professionals have found valuable.2
1. Is it news?
Being news requires being newsworthy. What might appear revolutionary within your own organization may not be front page material for national media organizations. So, what kinds of topics pass over a pressroom’s threshold? As a good starting point, STT's news criteria lists subjects that are significant, interesting, surprising, current, and relevant.
It's also worth taking into account why a particular news story would be deemed important, and by whom. Often, the reason why coverage doesn't materialize is that the topic has already been covered, and the recent submission offers no fresh insight. However, if you’re pitching a never-before-seen solution, it has significantly better publicity prospects than a merely updated product. A unique development backstory can also pique a journalist's interest.
2. Who is it of interest to?
Even though news criteria are generally the same, different media outlets have varying criteria. Consumer magazines cater to a very different audience than trade journals. Local newspapers are primarily interested in the local angle. Journalists receive numerous communications daily, but most of it ends up in the trash because the content isn't relevant to them. It's important to familiarize yourself with the media outlets you’re contacting. This helps you understand what they write about, and how, and what kinds of demographics they cater to.
3. Is now the right time?
Of course, global situations have an impact on what stories news outlets cover, and sometimes the media is simply overwhelmed. Topics such as tax and election seasons occur regularly with equally recurring timetables. When you’re preparing something to share, it's good practice to reach out to journalists well in advance, so they have ample time to get to know the topic and write a story ready to be published as soon as the embargo lifts.
4. Are your materials in order?
Before sending a press release, it is essential to ensure that the copy and accompanying materials are in order. The press release must offer a comprehensible and clear read even to those who aren’t industry experts. To ensure coverage, print-quality images are surprisingly important to be included, as journalists don't have time to start hunting for images.
No matter how hard you strive, sometimes things just don’t go your way and the story doesn’t materialize. There are many reasons for this. During flu and holiday seasons, small editorial teams work with limited resources, and only the most noteworthy news and editorials get published.
The media is flooded with great topics on a daily basis, with each of them in competition with one another to some extent. Don't let this discourage you, however, as a topic may burrow into a journalist's mind, and be revisited at a later time.