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9 ways to bolster public relations and media outreach

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | May 19, 2015
What good is having a business if no one knows about you? But how do you get the word out? Public relations is one of several proven ways for organizations to connect with their target audience, and is often (much) more cost effective than advertising. But how can you ensure that your press releases and PR efforts are getting to the right people?

Additionally, "when using online services like HARO, ProfNet or SourceBottle, always assume the deadline is immediate," says Marianne O'Connor, CEO, Sterling Communications. "It doesn't matter what the posted deadline is: respond ASAP. Why? Because once the reporter has enough sources, he/she will simply 'turn off' the request. Get there first."

[Author's Note: I received that last tip just before my deadline, after my HARO post had been up for a week. Even though I already had enough sources, and had stopped accepting replies, I decided to include it because it makes an important point: Don't wait until the last minute to respond to a query.]

3. Take the time to establish (online) relationships with key reporters. "Identify the five reporters who regularly cover your specific sector and competitors, and work hard at building a relationship with them over the long term," says Sami McCabe, CEO, Clarity PR.

"I use Cision's media database to find the contact information and pitching preferences of the journalists I want to connect with," says Casey. (You can also use Google and Twitter to research reporters.) "Before pitching any reporter, I also always read her recent articles and review her social media profiles to make sure that the story I am pitching is right for the reporter and her interests."

Once you've done your research, "engage with [reporters] via social media and provide analysis and commentary where relevant — even if it doesn't directly result in coverage for your company," advises McCabe. "Win the trust of the reporter by consistently providing him or her with relevant, timely and insightful comments," he continues. "The goal is to establish yourself as a reliable and authoritative commentator. This takes time and persistence."

4. Connect with reporters on Twitter. "Use Twitter frequently," says David Erickson, vice president, Online Marketing, Karwoski & Courage, a PR agency. "Reporters are heavy users of Twitter. It has become a primary way for them to develop expert sources," he explains. "Demonstrate your expertise on Twitter by sharing articles related to your industry and business that reporters who cover your industry would find compelling."

"Follow journalists that cover [your] specific industry and retweet, favorite and comment on their stories," adds Bonnie Shaw, president, Clearpoint Agency. "This helps to form a relationship with journalists via Twitter." Then, when your "company has a development or announcement, they can then tweet their news using the journalist's Twitter handle to ensure they see that news," she says.

"We also recommend capitalizing on trending topics. Use trending hashtags (if possible) that are relevant to whatever your news is," she advises. "This will increase exposure of the tweet well beyond the account's followers."


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