Look, we can likely all admit, part of the thrill of getting a great media placement or interview is the bragging opportunity. Sure, media coverage establishes credibility and builds trust with existing and potential customers, but there’s also something really rewarding about landing brag-worthy media coverage and seeing yourself quoted or featured in a highly respected media outlet. (And it’s fun to share it with your family and friends!)
So, how do you land those coveted media placements? Two words: breaking news. 👈
Breaking news is news in the truest sense of the word — from hard news about national and world events to major political and scientific breakthroughs to entertainment news about celebrities and sports stars. Because this news is what drives the media, tying your pitches to a breaking news story is a great way to grab the media’s attention.
For example, we recently represented a sexual harassment expert. When the #MeToo movement began, we pitched the media, positioning our client as an expert who can discuss the issue of harassment in the workplace. This landed him a placement in Entrepreneur. And in 2009, we had just signed on a doctor and leading expert on unhealthy relationships as a client. Within eight hours, amid abuse news that broke about Rihanna and Chris Brown, we landed her an interview on Dr. Phil to speak about domestic violence. (This is still our record we’re trying to beat!) 😇
What’s great about breaking news is it helps you land brag-worthy coverage by answering the two most important questions in public relations (PR):
- Why should the media care?
- Why should they care now?
Breaking news answers the “Why now?” question and increases your chances to share your brilliant insights, commentary or expert opinion. It also answers the “Why should I care?” question for the media. Editors and producers constantly ask their reporters to answer one question from the point of view of the reader, viewer or listener: “Why should I care?” As an expert, thought leader or publicist, it’s your job to help them answer that question.
Now, if you’ve powerfully answered those two questions, you are much more prepared. At a moment’s notice, you must be ready to jump when the media calls. The earlier you can get involved with the story, the greater your impact on the conversation and the greater your chance to be a part of the follow-up. The old saying, “The early bird gets the worm,” certainly holds true when it comes to PR.
💡Here are some key things to remember to help you prepare for your brag-worthy opportunity:
- Monitor the news.
How? Do what you enjoy. Watching the morning news is a great way to get caught-up on the daily headlines. Or if you prefer to catch up with the news online, set up Google Alerts. It’s free and lets you know right away if there’s breaking news on your topic.
- Reach out immediately.
Personalized pitching (by email or phone) is the best way to reach the media when news breaks. And note, it’s important to highlight your talking points and your availability in your pitch.
- Make sure the media has what they need ASAP!
Provide a link to your online press kit and give your interviewer everything they need to prepare for the interview beforehand. Trust me, it’s in your best interest to provide all your information right away so you’re shaping the conversation and not the other way around. Be prepared!
Ensure the media knows every possible way to contact you.
This seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised how often people just give media contacts their email address. Make sure they have your cell phone number and alternate phone numbers, email address, WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, etc. They need to be able to contact you 24/7. And, of course, this goes without saying: When they call, pick up. If you can’t pick up, call back immediately!
- Ask yourself if you’re ready to fly.
For TV interviews, you or your client often must be available to fly or travel on short notice. The travel may be local or you may have to fly across the country. Be prepared for spur-of-the-moment schedule changes and be ready to make travel arrangements before you pitch. And if you’re not up for travel, focus your PR campaign on print and radio, which can often be done by phone — just make sure you have a reliable connection! There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a radio interview and losing your connection.
- Think like a journalist.
The more you watch, read and listen to the news, the more you can anticipate opportunities and prepare to comment when news breaks. Every breaking news story has a cycle, and it’s important you hit the cycle at the right time. As soon as news breaks, the media need hard experts to help sort out what happened and why. After they’ve fully fleshed that out, they need experts who can offer a solution to the issue. Ask yourself, where does my expertise fit inside this breaking news cycle? Where do I want to comment? Be very clear about this when you’re pitching the media.
A lot of this may seem like common sense, but when it comes to PR, it’s usually the smallest details that determine whether or not you capture the attention of journalists in need of an expert. Being prepared and making sure you’re on top of all the details will increase your chances of landing those coveted brag-worthy media placements. 🏆
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