Increasing PR Coverage: Your Brand Isn’t Boring, Your Stories Are
Landing PR coverage can be tricky, even for some of the biggest brands. It’s easy to see how ‘cool’ brands, like Apple, Nike or ASOS can find stories that would appeal to the general public, but what if your brand or industry is considered “boring”?
All PR’s have the option to increase their PR coverage, they just need to know to find and tell a story that resonates.
Luckily, Andy Barr, co-founder & co-managing director or 10 Yetis Digital is here to help! In our recent webinar (which you can watch here), Andy gave us some top tips and methods for finding and reviewing potential PR opportunities.
In this blog we’ll be rounding up some of the top tips from Andy’s webinar, adding a few of our own, and answering some of the Q&A’s that we didn’t have time to answer in the webinar.
TIP 1: Make sure your product and company aren’t awful!
If your product is fundamentally rubbish, there’s no point in trying to pitch PR stories. Media attention will simply lead to an increase in negative PR coverage around your brand. So, make sure your product & company is built on a solid base. If there are lots of skeletons in the closet, they’ll be revealed as soon as your brand is in the public eye. Working on areas of your brand that can be criticised before moving on to think about how to make your company exciting is fundamental.
TIP 2: Get internal buy-in
Before trying to get sexier media coverage, you’ll need the support of someone internally. Target a member of the c-suite who’s more open to ‘new ideas’. Influential internal stakeholders are key to generating wider buy-in from the rest of the organisation, and the senior management team.
A good way of creating buy-in is to collaborate on the project, that way both parties feel they’ve been involved and a sense of ownership and pride. Don’t underestimate the power of enthusiasm, it’s contagious!
TIP 3: Baby steps
If you’re not used to doing ‘out there’ campaigns make sure you take baby steps. Ramp it up gradually, otherwise, stakeholders might freak out. Not only this, but your audience may be a little confused that you’ve gone from one extreme to another.
Test the waters and use a social listening tool like Meltwater to understand whether the tweaks to your campaign are resonating. It’s better to keep your finger on the pulse of your audience and media to spot spikes in negative conversations earlier on, prior to rolling out a complete campaign.
TIP 4: Have goals
Consider how ‘interesting’ PR coverage will help your brand. What are your goals and how are you measuring them? Also, think about how PR help you to achieve wider organisational objectives. For example, if the company is hoping to enter a new market, you may want to focus on getting ‘authority links’ from big news sites in that market to help improve SEO amongst that demographic.
TIP 5: Test & come up with your ideas using ‘The pub factor’
Would your story be talked about by your mates at the pub? If yes, this could suggest you’ll get social shares, engagement and generate general public interest.
“We typically apply the pub factor to every idea we have, be that B2B or consumer…when we have our team brainstorming sessions, we involve our whole team, not just the PR team. All the ideas get written on a board, then we score each idea out of ten” says Andy.
TIP 6: Get inspired by other ideas
In an ideal world we’d all be coming up with only original ideas, but in reality, chances are it’s already been done to some extent before.
There’s nothing wrong with taking inspiration from other campaigns, just as long as you’re not pinching the ideas. Use a social media monitoring tool to understand which parts of campaigns are resonating by breaking the conversational data down into positive trending themes.
Don’t be afraid to look outside of your industry for ideas too. Take a look at how celebs like Kim Kardashian use social media. A list Celebs employ the top publicists, as such, they’re full of creative ways to engage audiences.
Top 7: Come up with more than one angle for a story
If you come up with a fun idea, give yourself multiple story angles. Don’t limit yourself! Take John Lewis as an example. They sent a press release about the Christmas TV ad itself, then how the ad led to an increase in the toy sales, then how many people have viewed the ad since the initial reach.
If you create a fun piece of content, consider how you can stretch it out over a period of time by drip feeding the audience with new insights. Don’t lay all your cards on the table at once!
Tip 8: It doesn’t always have to relate back to your product
Depending on what your goals are, think outside the box when creating content. One of Andy’s clients, a pharmaceutical brand, created a ‘sex calculator’ to land PR coverage which drove traffic and authority links to their website.
Press releases: Are they still needed or are they outdated?
While press releases are considered old school, they still have a place in today’s world. However, bear in mind that they’ll only work if you target who you pitch them to. Spray and pray PR doesn’t get journalists interested, it gets them irritated.
Any tips on how to manage your co-workers when they have competing expectations of the same story. E.g fundraising v emotive, vs scientific and fact-based
To manage your co-workers with competing expectations, you need to make it clear what the goals of the campaign are, before the campaign launches. For example, if it’s to educate, this could be the reason why a campaign is more factual than emotive. If the campaign’s goal is to drive social media engagement, other parts of your strategy will be less of a priority.
Alternatively, what about using Andy’s tip of creating multiple angles of the same story? So you could launch a campaign that has an emotive element, and then follow up with a more scientific angle?
Do you have any tips for a company with very limited PR resources?
Whilst a blanket press release send can seem like the quickest way to try and get PR coverage, use the limited time you do have to really target the right journalists and get your outreach right the first time. Journalists get hundreds of pitches a day, so make yours count.
Spend some time creating a media list with journalists who regularly report on your field. If you want to save time, use Meltwaters journalist database to search not by beats, but keywords. For example, if you’re a Malaria charity, you could search for people writing about ‘Malaria vaccinations’ to find journalists likely to be interested in your story.
What’s your opinion on cold-calling journalists?
If you have a good story they will be interested no matter how you reached out to them. However, generally, journalists don’t like cold calls.
Any advice on when PR goes horribly wrong? E.g. Pepsi ad
Unfortunately, sometimes PR does go horribly wrong. We have loads of content on dealing with a crisis on our resources page. Like we mentioned above, test the waters by understanding the key themes that resonate from other companies campaigns, or take baby steps and listen to the reactions before committing and putting a lot of cash into a campaign that may flop.
Also test your campaigns with people who don’t work in PR/Marketing. Sometimes when you’ve thought of an idea yourself, it’s hard to see potential pitfalls.
That’s it for landing PR coverage, but check out our webinar with Elliot Nichols, Head of PR at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust for more advice on dealing with a crisis.