Media Coverage = Sales Leads
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
One of the big dollar marketing necessities is public relations. That’s the business of getting reporters, bloggers, anchors and analysts to pay attention and report on your product or business. The payoff is worth it: Customers see a fabulous review of your company and come running in the door to buy, often with the clipped news article in hand.
Yet public relations can be time intensive, especially for companies with a consumer product, so rates at PR firms start as low as $3,000 per month and go as high as hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, if you’re a smaller company operating in a small market, like a city, you can often do the public relations yourself. The keys to good media outreach are:
1. Your story. First, think of a story line that would get new customers excited. Then consider whether that story is realistic and ‘sellable’ to a reporter. Reporters are supposed to be objective and truthful, and they don’t shill for companies. So examples of realistic but important story ideas might include a product review, insertion into a restaurant list or event calendar and so on.
Those are good stories, but even better ones are where you comment like an expert. If you own a restaurant, for example, you could comment on a new cooking trend. Whether your comment is positive or negative doesn’t matter; the point is you get to be the expert, and your name and company is cited in the article. From your customers’ perspective, you must be a genius if a reporter quotes you like one. Also, reporters love good expert sources, so they are more likely to come back to you for comment than if they simply did a restaurant review. With this approach, your goal is to get quoted once per quarter as an expert.
2. Your reporter. Once you’ve come up with a few story ideas, find the reporters who are mostly likely to report those stories. You often can find their email addresses and phone numbers in the staff directory of their web site. If you can’t find the contact for a TV anchor, try pitching one of the producers.
3. Email your pitch. Send a short email to your targeted reporter. Reporters are busy, so get to the point and help the reporter visualize the story. The subject of your email should be the title you imagine for the story, and the body of the email should feature the meaty details. Like any sales pitch, it may be helpful to compliment the reporter by explaining why you decided to pitch her. Here’s an example:
TO: Jane Doe, Channel 3
RE: Story idea: Pool cleaning tips for summer
BODY: Dear Jane,
Without proper pool care, kids could be swimming in a cesspool or toxic chemicals and get very sick. I loved the story you did on spring cleaning tips, so I thought you might be interested in doing a story on pool care in the hot summer months. If you’re interested, we could host you and a crew at the City Pool to show how to properly clean the round filters, check the engine, and control the chemicals. Please call or email me if you would like more information.
4. Follow up. Reporters get hundreds of email and phone calls, so it’s okay to follow up just like you would a sales target. Don’t stalk them; simply follow up with a call or two and another email if necessary. They will let you know if they’re interested.
Like any sales pitch, you should treat your customer (the reporter) professionally and with respect. The customer may want to tweak the idea or use you for a different kind of story, and that’s okay. What’s important is that you’re building a working relationship that gets your company talked about by the media.
Copyright ©2012 Meredith Munger