When doing PR, focus on the consumer

Adjunct professor, PR and corporate communications specialist Jeremy Bamidele provides advice to PR firms looking to pitch their ideas to clients and to publishers

Jeremy Bamidele
Jeremy Bamidele

"When you focus on the consumer, the consumer responds"—Alexander Wang, Creative Director of French fashion house Balenciaga.

Everyone wants publicity, but there are ways to go about it and not to go about it. Getting publicity most often requires that you pitch a publication. When pitching always consider things from the perspective of the one you’re pitching to. If they like oranges, don’t try to sell them apples, and if apples are all you have to sell, then paint the apples orange.

Research demographics

A deep understanding of the needs and desires of the industry is imperative in selling a brand to a publication, or anyone for that matter. "Consumers need to be able to clearly see how a product or service will benefit them," states Michelle Mar, Resident Journalist and Marketing Coordinator at Boulder Associates Architects. Publications must see how the knowledge of your brands will benefit their target market. Publications usually make information about their consumer demographics available online to better inform advertisers of whether their publication is a good fit. These demographics should also be considered by publicists when deciding what publication to pitch a story and the production of the media pitch. Report Linker is a good company to find demographic information. Social media should also be used to gain insight into a publication’s audience.

Consider the publisher’s perspective

The same brand can be pitched to many industries and publications. However, the same pitch must never be used for everyone. Mikal E. Belicove, a contributor to Forbes and Entrepreneur magazines, states "The last thing any journalist wants to receive is an auto-generated message that is being pitched in the same manner to everyone on a media list." Instead, tailor the pitch to the demographics of the publication. It is in your favor to explicitly state knowledge of the demographics as it shows your effort to understand the publication before even making your pitch.

Garance Franke-Ruta, Washington Editor of Yahoo news, states in The Atlantic, "Never send pieces to multiple outlets at the same time without telling all the editors you've pitched that you've done this. It’s better not to send pitches to multiple places at the same time at all, but sometimes it has to happen for reasons of timeliness." It always important to keep editors abreast of the publication situation related to your pitched story. While some publications allow articles that have been published elsewhere, others will not. An editor does not want to be caught with an article for their publication — one that only publishes exclusive content – published elsewhere.

Quality vs. quantity of publications

Amidst the digital age and the expansion of small publications, the amount of venues looking for a story can seem infinite. That being said, being in ten community newspapers will likely not benefit you as much as being in the Reference News. The circulation and audience of a publication is far more useful in gauging the affects a publication will have on your behalf.

Most publications focus on what they gauge to be newsworthy, so if you have never been written about, then it is unlikely that China Daily will be the first to publish a piece on you. Instead, start with smaller regional newspapers and trade publications in your respective industry. Once you’ve built up some publications, then add at the bottom of the press release a list of publishers that have already written about your client, including links to those articles if available.

It is your job to mold the story to the publication, not the publication’s job to publish whatever falls in its lap. Spend the time to research publications well and tailor your message to fit them and their demographic.

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