2015: Clickable Media Relations


Earlier this year, Edelman, Newswhip and MuckRack released a fascinating survey of 250 journalists highlighting how social media and shareability are influencing how digital news is covered.

The big takeaway—more than 75 percent of journalists say they feel more pressure now to think about their story’s potential to be shared on social platforms.

The survey went on to explain the five key elements that make stories more shareable, which include videos/images, brevity, localization, more use of human voice and a proximity to trending topics.

While I don’t know if the five ingredients are anything new—they have always been integral parts of a compelling story—the survey is a good reminder on how PR professionals need to consider shareability when creating story angles and pitches.

Journalists also revealed the five key trends impacting their profession in 2015: more mobile friendly content, faster turnaround times, more original video, smaller newsroom staff and social media growing in influence.

Without cute kittens, how can PR people help journalists in a constant war for eyeballs and Internet attention? Here are six tips to help make your media relations “click:”

Get to the point

We’ve been shouting this from the rooftops for years. A journalist doesn’t have five minutes to translate a convoluted pitch. Be clear, concise and explain why it matters to the reader or fits into a larger trend. That way, the journalist doesn’t need to waste time explaining the same things to the reader.

Images of all shapes and sizes

Print publications such as magazines and newspapers are going to want hi-res images, but online outlets likely won’t need anything as large. Do the legwork ahead of a campaign launch and make sure you have multiple file sizes of photos available in an easy to access link like Dropbox that work for websites, Facebook and Twitter.

Research how the outlet is using video

According to the study, nearly 75 percent of journalists are creating original video content to accompany their stories; only 3 percent are using corporate video. Creating video content for your brand can be a smart strategy for Facebook, YouTube or another channel, but it might not be a fit for the journalist’s story. That’s okay. Research how the news outlet has utilized video in the past. Maybe the organization is doing interviews at its offices or using Skype. Here’s a way to approach it: “I noticed your team has been including great video interviews with some of your content. If it’s a fit for this particular interview, Mr. Smith would be glad to stop by your office, or is available via Skype.”

Make time for media

Executives are busy people, with full calendars. So are journalists. Ahead of a campaign launch, make sure you have access to the person’s schedule and they’re around for interviews. Nothing is worse than having to go through three layers of people for a 10-minute interview. If a journalist reaches out to you, set expectations on how quickly you can access the person’s availability.

Do the digging and localize

The Dallas Morning News isn’t going to care about your interesting customer story from Tampa, Fl.  If you’re a national brand, think through how you can find angles that can be replicated in local markets. Perhaps it’s compiling public information like how SleepBetter.org’s Lost Hour Index provided state-by-state data on the time change. Or, maybe it’s working with your customer service department or social media team to pinpoint evangelists in local markets with compelling stories.

Sharing is caring

You landed a great story—congrats! The job isn’t done. Leverage the story on your company’s social networks. It not only validates your company or product to already-established fans, but also helps drive web traffic to the news outlet’s site.

Do you have any clickable tips and tricks to share with readers? Please share in the comments below. 

Cameron McPherson

Cameron builds strategic communication campaigns that increase awareness and build public support. His familiarity with Virginia’s local markets helps clients navigate and understand complex and emerging issues. He frequently assists new companies, restaurants and other organizations launch in the Richmond market through public relations tactics.

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