Thursday, 24th June 2021
Paddy Hintz, Senior Consultant, Media and Communications
Money cannot buy happiness is a truism ruefully acknowledged by any recently fallen-from-grace NRL player.
It also applies to high-value, independent acknowledgement of the worth of your business, the value of its purpose and the recognition of your team.
Independent validation is hard-won. But the momentum it can bring can be priceless.
A common request from companies we work with is for recognition by high-value media targets such as national print outlets The Australian and The Financial Review, national or major metropolitan radio or ABC programming.
The following are some tips and strategies you might consider when thinking about pitching a story to journalists working for these outlets:
1. Forget the press release
Don’t get us wrong, a press release is still important. But for the journalist, it’s only a teaser. A release is an important step because it helps distill your message into clear, to-the-point language that can be easily understood by someone outside your business. But you also need to realise that you are the press release. High-value targets use the release as a base and expect you to make yourself available as an information source. The process of developing your press release will help you shape this information. It will also help you focus on why you are doing this anyway.
2. So why are you doing this anyway?
Media attention is all very well, unless, of course, it’s of the sort you don’t want. It’s next to useless, however, unless you have carefully constructed a media strategy that connects with your core business goals. How does this help you achieve what you want to achieve? Attention for attention’s sake is great if you’re in the market to sell a lot of widgets. In which case, you will also need a cleverly constructed and expensive marketing campaign to accompany that media strategy. In the case of high-value media targets, if the answer to the above is to elevate the company’s reputation to open more doors with key stakeholders, that’s a good answer. It’s also by no means the only good answer.
3. Think like a journalist
Once you have fully considered your own agenda when it comes to attracting high-value media attention, you also need to develop a strong understanding of what the individual journalist’s agenda, or news interests, are. Why would they be interested in your story, what news value will it bring to their organisation, who is the wider audience interested in this story and what would that reader get out of reading it? Your story must be a value proposition for everyone. Who is going to be motivated enough to read this story and why? What’s in it for them?
4. Don’t get your hopes up
If at first you don’t succeed – and it may well be highly likely you won’t – try, try, try again but stay relevant. An initial contact with a high-value media target will gain attention if the hook is carefully crafted and baited. But it will also quickly sink without a trace if it’s not followed up. Have the next story in the bank before the first approach. But don’t follow up too soon – that’s stalking.
5. Be prepared to take advantage of success
You’ve gained national media attention and you’ve stepped up into the big league. Now what? What is the plan to take advantage of this? Think this through. What will your next steps be to take advantage of this highly respected profile. How can you continue to build this reputation in both the media and across your business environment?