Often the most visible element of public relations, media relations is a tried-and-true tactic that can influence opinion, change behaviors and generate new leads and sales. PR people have always reached out to and built relationships with relevant journalists to pitch stories about clients. And as bloggers’ popularity increased, PR specialists began adding bloggers to their media lists in an attempt to secure product reviews, guest posts and other forms of editorial coverage. Industry insiders like to debate the merits of influence, but the truth is that virtually anyone has the opportunity to shape perceptions by creating and sharing content online. In fact, the New York Times recently quoted a tweet, helping someone with seven followers gain a much larger audience.
If you work in PR, here are some innovative ways to improve your pitches and hopefully, help you nab some buzz. Of course, the best way to generate buzz is to pair an excellent, tailored pitch with a stellar product.
Incorporate new platforms
As technology forces the PR industry to evolve, one constant remains true: Businesses need to incorporate the right mix of tools to deliver the right message to the right audience. That still involves working with reporters to secure stories in “traditional” media outlets. But nowadays, even traditional media roles are changing: Magazines and newspapers employ multimedia producers to create companion videos and slideshows that supplement the original print version of a story, and beat reporters are responsible for creating blog posts in addition to their “regular” stories.
To capitalize on this trend, don’t simply offer a story line when working with traditional media outlets. Instead, offer opportunities for reporters to generate “non-traditional” content. But remember: Innovating your media relations requires more than just securing digital coverage in traditional media outlets. It’s smarter—and more effective—to cast a wider net. Here are platform-specific examples.
Reportedly the fastest-growing standalone site ever, Pinterest is rapidly attracting brands and individual pinners. Some individuals have already accumulated hundreds and thousands of loyal followers. One byproduct? A new set of influencers for brands to engage. Start by identifying pinners with loyal followings on topics relevant to your organization. Like and repin their content, and connect with the individuals on their blogs, Twitter accounts or Facebook Pages. Look for natural opportunities to share your content with them, with the goal of securing a coveted “pin” on one of their boards. Proceed with caution, as this is new territory, and many pinners won’t want to be pitched. However, it won’t be long until brands and individual pinners figure out how to work with each other.
Brands have created Facebook pages, some with success…others not so much. If your brand doesn’t have a strong Facebook presence—or if you need to connect with a niche group—consider tapping into existing communities. For example, identify Facebook Pages and groups that serve as a hub for people who would likely share an interest in your product or service. Take note of who the page's admin is, and try to provide that person with fresh content that the page’s members would find valuable. Remember, a key page admin responsibility is to spark engagement—mostly through Likes, comments and shares. If you’re going to pitch a Facebook Page admin, make sure you’re providing content that will help him strengthen connections with existing fans.
A real-time, photo sharing network, Instagram is the largest mobile social network. As brands navigate mobile marketing opportunities, Instagram may be a natural network to explore. However, it’s safe to assume that most Instagram users wouldn’t be comfortable uploading a photo a brand emailed them. Instead, companies can create opportunities to connect with their online networks in offline settings. A few ideas:
- Organize a “photo-a-day” meme and invite Instagram photographers whose interests align with your brand’s to participate
- Create a contest and invite users with relevant followings to spread the word and/or participate
YouTube and UStream
A couple years ago, “haul videos” were all the rage on YouTube. As video production becomes more accessible and simpler, more individuals are broadcasting shows on YouTube and UStream. Just as you’d pitch a television reporter, brands can connect with the hosts or producers of these shows. But be sure to think visually. For example, can you provide the broadcast with a high-level interview or behind-the-scenes footage?
The rewards of relevancy
When it comes to generating media coverage and engaging content creators and influencers, the most effective PR people are the ones who research each opportunity and develop a customized pitch. Be warned: If your pitch appears off-topic or feels like a “canned” message, it won’t pique the attention of traditional media, bloggers or this new set of online influencers. So, before you ask someone to pin your image or share content with a Facebook group, do your homework. Relevancy is rewarded.