Get media to cover your news: public relations works

Public relations is powerful.

Writing a press release, getting it almost print ready, reaching out to the media with it so they have all the information they need and don’t have to do too much extra reporting on it, then having the story picked up by two media channels in one day is just beautiful. This happened this week with a new, local client I’m writing stories for and has helped solidify that this was a good move for them to make.

People think they don’t know how to get the word out for whatever they are doing – sometimes I think that – but then I realize it’s good to get back to the basics.┬áThis is how it was meant to work, and when it does, it really works. A lot has to do with timing and the other news, so it doesn’t always work, but it certainly can when everything comes together.

There’s a school of thought that writing press releases too fully will prevent media from doing additional reporting, and this is is a possibility, but with how strapped newsrooms are these days and how much news there is to cover, it could come down to your story not getting used due to lack of time for additional reporting. If your release is well done, but a reporter still wants to get their own material, they will do so.

Here are some tips for getting media to cover your news:

  • Having good relationships with the media is important – find them on Twitter, share their other articles, feed them good news and always follow through. If they know they can trust your work they will use it. Use their preferred method of communication to reach out. This is what they are checking the most.
  • Follow press release structure and AP style rules – use a dateline, use last names for sources on second reference, use dates and times correctly. This helps them have to edit little and get your news out faster.
  • Include a photo whenever possible – visuals are appealing whether it’s for print or a blog. Some places won’t run the article without a photo and most news outlets are looking for something horizontal in nature. This also prevents them having to spend time asking for one.
  • Try sending it at an off time – most public relations professionals work mostly 8 to 5, and send press releases during this time and this helps the day time media staff, but they are probably getting a lot of material during the day. For TV news, try hitting the night crew a little later. We contacted local television reporters around 5 p.m. for this story and it got picked up for the 9 p.m. show. It can be good to have your news in front of them if something else falls through.

Building these relationships and finding the right way to reach out to the media can take time, but it starts with a well-written release by someone who knows what reporters are looking for and the style they want it in. Find a good writer and then get started getting the word out about your news.

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