Good PR Basics: Part III

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Reaching out to the Media

Welcome to part 3 of this 3 part series on securing PR to share your good news. I wanted to do this because I love using PR to spread good news, and having some of those basics under your belt can really help. In part one of this series I covered the benefits to using PR to spread your good news. In part 2 of this series I shared how to cultivate a story to share. In this third and final part of good PR basics, I want to share how you actually get the story to the media. This is the part that normally really gets people confused, but I promise you, it’s the easiest part. You’ve already done the hardest work by creating good. Now it’s just time to share it.

Here’s the big secret to getting your good news covered. Are you ready?

You have to tell people.

Boom. That’s the big secret. People can’t share what they don’t know. Media works by people giving news organizations tips. Tell people what you’re doing!!

It’s hard for media groups to cover your good news when they don’t know it’s happening. If you’re thinking it can’t be that simple, you’re in for a surprise, because it is. The biggest reason people don’t get coverage is because they don’t share what they’re doing. There’s a pretty common  mindset that some people have where they just assume because they’ve done something great, other people should know. “They should just know.” You’re probably right. We probably would be better for knowing but we often don’t know because no one has told us. Also most people are busy and don’t have time to constantly seek you out to look for updates. Share your good news with people! Don’t expect them to come to you, you need to go to them. You might get an occasional phone call or question, but don’t count on that happening all the time, especially if you’re a smaller organization.

Okay, now that you’re ready to share, here’s your next steps:

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

Start sharing your good news in advance. I had one job where we started sending out press releases for events three months in advance. To me that was a little early, but I still liked being organized and ready. It helped me stay focused. Start reaching out as soon as you can. In an ideal world, start reaching out three months in advance, and continue to reach out as you get closer. You can send a press release two months away, one month away, and a week before. This gives news channels the opportunity to get things on their radar, schedule something if it’s really of interest to them, and also to fit you in at the last minute if something else cancels.

Decide Who You Want Coverage From

Do you know who you want to cover your event? You should figure that out. Is it best for the local paper? Is it best for a women’s focused media group? Is it best for a kid’s focused media group? Is it best for morning news or best for the radio? Figure out what makes sense for your story. A lot of the time there’s crossover, but, for example, if you’re sharing a new arts event, you probably don’t need to send that story to a sports media group. Figure out where it makes sense to have your story shared and create a list.

Create a contacts list

Okay, you have your list of where you want to get coverage? Now it’s time for the tedious work of creating a contacts list. Here’s what I want you to do:

  1. Go to the website of the media platform you want your story covered by. For example, if you want the local paper to cover you, go to their website.

  2. On the website there is almost always a spot where you can submit your news. Find the email address for general news submissions. Normally this is something generic like news@newspaper.com. Start a list and put this email down.

  3. Also on this website there should be a list of reporters and editors. For every editor who might cover your story, take down their email address and add it to your list.

  4. Good job, now repeat with every media group who you’re trying to get coverage from.

This  takes time, but it’s worth it. There are editors who schedule a lot of the stories (they’re normally the ones looking at the general news submissions) and then, in addition, each reporter has to get their own set of stories. Sometimes what one person sees value in, another does not and vice versa. That’s why you want to reach out to more people.

Share your story

In part 2 of this 3 part series I talked about finding your story. This is the time to share your story. What’s the hook? Share the who, what, when where, why of it all. If you need a few pointers on getting your story click here. When you’re reaching out have your story together and share that in the email. Remember to add a call to action and a contact. What do you want these organizations to do and who should they contact about it? It might seem pretty obvious but a lot of people forget this part.

Be easy to work with

Answer calls. Return emails. Get on camera. Have others who can get on camera. Make times. If you want to do a morning show know most morning shows stop filming at 10:00 AM so you might need to put something together. It’s a little extra work but they do tend to have some of the most receptive audiences to good news so it might be worth it. Say thank you when all is said and done. All of that good stuff that you know. Make people want to work with you.

That wraps up this 3 part series on PR basics. As I’ve said many times, PR is my favorite way to share good news so I do hope you’ll stick your toe in the water and see if it can work for you too.  The tactics are helpful but the BIGGEST part of getting your story out is telling media groups. They can’t share what they don’t know. Share the great work your organization is doing! Sharing through PR can get you some of the fastest results plus it’s fun to see a cause you love represented on big platforms. I hope this helps and gives you a little more confidence to taking that first step in getting your story shared. Have a great and productive week, Do-Gooders!