Marketing and public relations practitioners now outnumber journalists six to one, which makes getting your company press (both local and nation) more competitive than ever. To make the news and leverage earned media, companies have to be “mediagenic.” This is a term our PR team uses to describe brands that know how to present newsworthy stories. With our help, we’ve seen mediagenic brands use PR to jolt ad campaigns and hit ROI goals as high as 15:1.
At a recent media networking event, we polled local and national press on what it takes for a company to be mediagenic and get covered in the news. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Timing is Everything
Every day, reporters face a constant influx of emails with new story ideas and tight digital deadlines. This makes the timing of your newsworthy story outreach almost as important as the content. When contacting the media about your story or event, give as much advance notice as possible. These days, even local TV outlets plan 3-4 weeks ahead, and for editorial opportunities in trade publications, it’s good practice to reach out at least 3-4 months ahead.
Another pro timing tip straight from the mouth of a reporter: mare sure you are immediately reachable after you send out a press release or story idea. If a reporter is interested, they’ll want to get more details or schedule a follow-up interview ASAP so they can be the first person/outlet to report on the story.
2. Don’t Forget the Why (Impact)
No matter what topic they cover, reporters want to write stories that have an impact. They need to know the facts—the “Who, What, Where, and When”—but more importantly they’re looking for the “Why.” The start of your company’s story should focus on how it is making an impact, not the functional details like an event agenda, or new product features.
For example, XYZ brand’s mediagenic story isn’t about its new cameras that can detect guns in buildings using AI technology. It’s about how XYZ company’s cameras are one step in the right direction to lowering the alarming rate of school shootings in the U.S. Now, that’s impact.
3. Work to Make Reporters’ Jobs Easier
More often than not, your company’s mediagenic story is merely one of dozens a reporter has to crank out in a given week. Whereas coordinating that same story should be your #1 priority for the week. Do what you can to make reporting on your company as seamless as possible—be ready with possible interview times from your company’s spokesperson, offer relevant facts and figures, provide high-resolution photos (and video if you have it for TV to use as b-roll), and share as much information as you can ahead of time in one email or release vs. a tirade of back-and-forth emails where details could get lost. Reporters will be more likely to reach out to you proactively for other stories if you take this approach.
It’s also important to help the media through the negative stories too. Be transparent in crisis situations. Explain what you can, and if media is pushing for details you can’t share, explain why you’re not able to. Most of the time they’ll understand and be respectful in how they share this info.
4. Be Descriptive
Each company—no matter the industry—should invest substantial resources into its positioning and messaging strategies to describe its unique value to customers and how it is different from competitors. These illustrative descriptions also should be used repeatedly with media. One technology reporter stated his top pet peeve is companies who describe their products or services as “solutions.” This does not say anything about how the product works or the kind of impact it makes.
So before you send that email or make that call to a reporter, consider: Are you doing what it takes to be mediagenic?