Optimize Your Press Relations

The Do’s and Don’ts of PR
by : 

Megy Karydes

February 9, 2015
Marketing Mondays - Optimize Your Press Relations

In last week’s Marketing Mondays post, we focused on what stories reporters are looking for and different ways to deliver that information to them. Now comes the harder part: finding out who to send your information to and convincing that person to respond to your story idea. Honestly, though, this isn’t as hard as it sounds. In reality, it’s like any other kind of relationship: You have something you’re excited about, and you want to share it with others because you think it will benefit them, too.

It’s not always easy to secure media coverage, but to help you avoid getting frustrated by the process, here are some media outreach taboos and tips on avoiding them to increase your likelihood of press coverage.

How NOT to approach public relations

The editor, reporter, writer, or producer is not going to cover you simply because you exist. Existing is not a story. Think of your story from the reader’s or viewer’s point of view. What makes your information stand out and interesting? Lead with that and you’ll have a greater chance that the person on the receiving end will pay attention, too, because they want to deliver the best information to their audience.

Don’t

Don’t send your information to a black hole.

Do

You’ve gone through the trouble of making your press release or pitch sparkle, so give it a chance to make the news by sending it to the right person and not the generic email address offered on the media outlet’s website. Is your story about small retail? Then hit up the business or retail reporter at your local newspaper. Is it fashion related? Send your information to the person who covers fashion. Does your story have a broader reach than your community? Send it to a regional or national magazine editor who covers the types of stories you’re sharing. Still don’t know who to pitch to? Do an Internet search for your press release/pitch topic to see what pops up and start crafting your media list from the reporters who covered that topic in the past.

Don’t

Don’t bother to send something to a reporter, get a bite, only to go AWOL on her. Nothing frustrates members of the media more than not being able to get in touch with a source quickly.

Do

Provide your cell phone and email with any communication you send out and make sure you respond quickly when they reach out to you. Not only will that help you secure coverage immediately, but it will leave a positive impression with the reporter, who now views you as a trusted, go-to source for other similar stories they may be working on down the road.

Don’t

Don’t bother to send one press release annually, such as at Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, or Christmas.

Do

PR should be part of a longer-term, consistent plan to be successful. While it’s not hard per se, there is a reason companies hire public relations professionals—because they do this every day and get to know the reporters well, how they like to receive information, what they’re covering, and so on. Those relationships don’t develop when you reach out only once a year. Make it a point to plan an annual calendar and keep feeding reporters new information on a regular basis. What may not work for a reporter this month or next month might work for the third month or even later. Seeing or hearing from you regularly will keep you on their radar, and that’s a very good thing.

Don’t

Don’t forget good-quality hi-res images are worth their price in gold.

Do

If you have hi-res photography, make sure you tell reporters—it might be exactly what they need to make their section or segment stand out. If you’re a retailer, ask if your manufacturer has any good images available for these types of uses. If you’re a wholesaler, invest in photography not only for your sales purposes, but for PR purposes, too. Also, rather than emailing large images to reporters, secure a free Dropbox account and send them links to the images so they can download them on their end. If you don’t already have a Dropbox account, visit www.dropbox.com to set one up.

PR pays off!

Working with members of the media can be incredibly rewarding and beneficial to your business when it’s done well and done right. While it’s not hard to do, PR is one of those marketing tools that take time to reap the benefits, so expect to invest in it before you start seeing tangible benefits. The investment can take anywhere from one month to six months, depending on which outlets you’re trying to break into.


Megy Karydes is principal of Karydes Consulting, a boutique marketing and communications firm and freelance writer who often covers retail for various magazines. She likes her calendars, whether digital or on paper, and has her editorial calendar pinned to her board in her office to remind her what day it is! Find her on Twitter at @megy.