“Our client has no news to share.” Almost every PR professional has echoed this thought in team meetings while brainstorming how to secure media placements for his or her clients large and small.
Clients want press coverage, and in their minds, there must be a way to secure mentions in stories without issuing hard news every week.
When your PR team is challenged to deliver press results for a client lacking catchy news, consider the following methods to help secure coverage:
- Generate your own research: Reporters depend on compelling data to color and validate their articles. Yet there is a common misconception that using market research to generate newsworthy data is an exhausting and expensive task that is feasible only for large agencies and clients with deep pockets and resources.
But times have changed. Market research companies of all sizes now have equal access to research tools and the ability to generate insights for any client. The key is to identify a newsworthy topic so that the research findings support your media outreach in a meaningful way.
Once you have compelling insights from your own survey, craft a pitch using a couple of interesting data points that illustrate a certain trend – this is the part that will hook reporters' interest. In fact, reporters will likely include specific data points in their stories and thank you for making their jobs easier.
If you want to impress your clients even more, bring your data to life with an infographic. The days of pie charts and line graphs are long gone and have been replaced by descriptive, easy-to-read infographics. Reporters appreciate a story that's easily conveyed.
CRT/tanaka is one example of an agency that turned to market research for quick, reliable data and an accompanying infographic. In one specific campaign for Web.com, CRT/tanaka used key insights and an infographic to generate key media placements such as Time and The Huffington Post, not to mention a happy client.
- Leverage industry headlines: PR professionals are expected to keep on top of current news and industry headlines, as it helps them connect the dots to their own clients.
News stories and op-eds can often inspire a new pitch idea altogether. Agency teams can and should use top news stories by creating a relevant pitch targeted at the same writers. Capitalizing on timely headlines will, at the very least, get reporters to open and read the email.
For example, a large health insurance provider was experiencing a news lull, but the agency team discovered that a competitor was making a major announcement related to open enrollment. Given that major news sources were covering that announcement, the agency took advantage of the media buzz by sharing their own data and information on open enrollment. The strategy was successful, with client mentions in dozens of stories that ran in national and trade publications.
- Pitch a unique POV for a byline article: It's easy to get caught up in the timeliness of news cycles, but PR professionals should not forget the steady option of penning a byline article.
The pitch is simple: explain how the CEO or appropriate executive can contribute a written article on a topic of interest to the publication's readership. It will help tremendously if the pitch includes a handful of topics for the editor to consider, accompanied by recommended article titles and summaries for each topic. Ideally, the editor will provide feedback on the article summaries you provided and select one or two that interests him the most.
The bottom line: agency teams are continually tasked to secure client coverage. Demonstrate forward-thinking by creating the stories yourself. The best part of the above three ideas? No hard news required.
Guari Sharma is CEO of Lab42.