It used to be that the Wall Street Journal was the Holy Grail of PR, and every company executive wanted to know how to get covered in the paper. Now, with more blogs and emerging sites, companies are not just asking about the Journal—perhaps it’s Forbes, USA Today, The Rachael Ray Show, Yahoo! Finance…. Regardless, virtually any executive can relate to the anticipation and excitement of being featured in a major publication or television show, being recognized for the great things your company is doing, and obtaining increased awareness and interest a national outlet can provide.
But how do you get a major news site to take notice of your brand and consider your story idea in the first place? We have been doing it at Zenzi for over a decade, and many of us a decade before that. Here are just a few pointers. With all of them, while you should aim to make it as easy for the reporter to cover your brand as possible, the process of actually getting to that point may not be as simple as you might think.
Tap into what is unique about your company.
What makes your company special? Perhaps you have the fastest this or the most cost effective that. But how do you really help people? Very few companies can honestly say that they have something 100% universal or unique—such as a life-changing cancer drug or new materials that will revolutionize clean living and help businesses to save millions. If you do, great! Go with it. For other organizations you may have to dig a little deeper to determine how you truly help. Take inventory: what are you doing that is truly different and how can you back it up? And consider: it may not always be the most obvious, or directly related to what your company ‘does’ for a living. For financial technology company, AccuTech Systems, we tapped into the CEO’s unique giving back program that gives employees paid time off annually to volunteer, and his own humanitarian efforts overseas, to obtain a feature in Worth Magazine.
Consider the valuable information and insights you already have.
You may not realize it, but your organization could be sitting on a treasure trove of valuable data that could help a reporter out. The problem, frequently, is that executives and employees may be too close to this data to realize it or not be utilizing resources to analyze and tap into company data to make a difference in the first place. At Zenzi, we have worked with executives from leading financial companies to consumer products and food companies to leverage their knowledge on subjects as vast as taxes, environmental issues, emerging regulatory requirements to ice cream tasting, to gain interviews and features, in publications as vast as the New York Times and The Street, to Glamour, Marie Claire, and others.
Tap into trends and seasonal themes.
Sometimes looking beyond your company to greater trends and issues is the way to get your company noticed. You might look at upcoming holidays, seasonal considerations, like back to school, giving thanks around the holidays or other themes to offer a timely angle. Or you way want to consider a tactic called newsjacking, or assessing timely topics and determining how your company can contribute. Perhaps your company executives can provide insight on a major insider trading case or recent volatility in the market, new mandates on healthier school lunches for kids or other topics. Zenzi helped a major dating site gain a feature in TIME Magazine for innovative “speed plating” events in NYC that took the speed dating craze to new, culinary heights.
Keep it simple. Think big picture.
Sometimes it is the simple ideas that pique reporters’ interest. Focus on things we can all relate to like avoiding unnecessary bank fees, what to get Fido for the holidays, how to know the foods you are buying are non-GMO. If you can take a universal topic and offer your own spin, you just may have a winner. This is a tactic that helped Zenzi to land a feature article for Torrey Pines Bank in Consumer Reports on avoiding bank fees.
Make it easy.
Thinking like a reporter, having an eye for what makes a good story, being able to ask the right questions—can all help in the process to get your company major mainstream coverage. The more legwork you can do to lay out a short, enticing pitch, the more likely the reporter will be able to envision, and get excited about, your story. An important part of this is often locating customers that are willing to talk to the media and telling the story through their eyes. People relate to other people.
This was a tactic that helped Zenzi to land a financial client on the cover of Fortune Magazine for an innovative way that one customer gained funding for his company.
As in the above with Tagg, we at Zenzi, also looked for ways to make it easy for producers—obtaining and coordinating dogs and handlers from a local shelter; getting the products and dog collars to the station; providing product descriptions, retailers and prices for merchandise,to name just a few…hours of work often goes into coordinating a major news story.
If you cannot beat them, join them. Consider writing an editorial – but keep in mind, it has to be good, very good, widely relevant, timely and meet their editorial objectives: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB126841622758561059
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, companies that are frequently in the mainstream media understand that obtaining high profile media coverage involves thinking beyond your brand to the needs of the reporter…how can you propose an interesting story readers will be drawn to, gain reporter interest, and then work closely with him or her to make it happen? When it comes down to it, gaining national media attention is often less about your specific brand, first and foremost—and more about being a resource and looking for ways that you can help.