Your big day has arrived. After a lot of hard work to do what is best for your customers, investors and employees, your company is starting to get the recognition it deserves. The Wall Street Journal just emailed you for comment on an emerging trend related to your business. Piece of cake! Story in the bag, right?
I sometimes get the feeling this is how my friends and family think business features or tech trend stories come together. Some clients believe landing a story is as simple as getting a reporter’s attention with a great pitch. Yes, that upfront work is a very important component to landing a story, but just as critical is what happens once you secure a reporter’s interest. Here are a few critical elements for transforming media interest into media gold:
- Timeliness of Response. Clients who ‘get’ PR also ‘get’ reporters’ deadlines. They recognize that when their PR team comes to them with a media inquiry, they must be prepared to respond almost immediately. What a dreadful feeling when you land a reporter’s interest and despite expressing the urgency of response to clients, they aren’t able to respond in time.
- Lining Up Spokespeople in Advance. It seems obvious, but when you are about to pitch a certain topic or story to a reporter, it’s wise to ensure you have someone who is actually well-versed on the topic AND can be available. There’s nothing worse when proposing a topic or idea to a reporter only to have to decline the reporter’s request because a spokesperson is not available.
- Button Up Your other Communications Channels. Any good reporter is going to do his or her homework on your company. In fact, reporters often ask for further background on your company and spokespeople once they have responded with interest. Where do you direct them? It’s usually your company website. If you don’t have a polished, credible website with easy to understand information about the company, products and executives, you may be turned down. How do your social channels look? What about your blog? These all can have a major impact on nailing down the story.
- Flexibility. Can you be nimble when a reporter has to change a meeting time due to another pressing deadline? Are you willing to meet early or late to talk to the reporter? This kind of flexibility can be the difference from you landing the story or your competitor landing the story.
- Interview Prep. Our most gifted spokespeople are not just naturally gifted at answering questions and thinking on their feet. They take the time to practice on their own and with us. In addition to reviewing the briefing materials we send, they often do a little of their own research and notes to offer even more value as a resource to a reporter.
- Marathon Mentality. Some of the best stories mature over time and don’t end with just an interview. Are you available to answer follow-up questions either over the phone or email? Are you willing to nurture the relationship by proactively offering additional materials? If you can keep the reporter well-informed throughout the story’s development, you will likely be pleased with the outcome.
- Unselfish Sharing. Reporters know you have a direct interest in being covered. That’s a given. But they will trust you a lot more when you can supply data or studies that shed light on a topic without being self-serving. Reporters have a sixth sense when it comes to sniffing out a sales message. If you want their trust, give them the truth about your industry and the competition.
Keeping this in mind and you may just have what it takes to land a big feature. Who knows, this could be you!
After getting the reporter’s attention, what is the most important factor in landing the big feature? Leave a comment below, or tweet us at @RHStrategic with the hashtag #RHetoricBlog.
RH Strategic is the PR firm for a hyper-connected world, delivering integrated media, social & digital strategies for technology, healthcare, and public sector markets.