Securing press coverage becomes a necessary milestone for many companies. If you’re gearing up to embark on this journey, exploring PR tools and services is likely on your agenda. However, understanding what these tools should deliver and what services ought to be provided can be a puzzle. Choosing the right PR tool or service is crucial for achieving your user acquisition and growth objectives, not to mention staying within budget. It’s essential to make decisions based on your specific needs rather than merely following conventions.
Let’s delve into the expectations regarding press coverage goals, extending beyond the superficial act of displaying press logos on your landing page:
1. Building Credibility:
Securing features in reputable publications enhances your credibility, instilling trust in users, customers, and investors.
2. Enhancing Search Engine Ranking:
Acquiring links from authoritative publications contributes to higher rankings on search engines, increasing your visibility and reach.
3. Crafting a Distinct Public Image:
Press coverage plays a pivotal role in shaping a public perception of your company—conveying your values, the benefits you offer to customers, and the problems you solve. It goes beyond mere logo display, creating a narrative around your brand.
As you explore PR tools and services, aligning these goals with your unique objectives will pave the way for impactful results.
Securing press coverage often necessitates proactive efforts to bring your company to the attention of journalists, rather than passively waiting for them to discover you. Email outreach has emerged as the most efficient and preferred method, with many journalists favoring this mode of communication.
However, the key is not to indiscriminately email every journalist in your reach. This is where a PR tool becomes indispensable.
Effective targeting involves reaching out to journalists who have previously covered companies similar to yours. For instance, a fashion journalist might not be inclined to cover B2B software, and an investigative journalist may not find a subscription box for kids noteworthy.
A proficient PR tool should excel in retrieving recent stories associated with keywords relevant to your company (such as peer-to-peer, crowdfunding, and artificial intelligence). Moreover, it should furnish the contact details of the journalists who authored these stories. This strategic approach ensures that your outreach is tailored and directed toward those most likely to show interest in your company.
Additionally, a valuable feature of a PR tool should enable you to construct and archive a list of these pertinent journalists, facilitating targeted pitching in the future.
The purpose and goals of this feature include:
1. Targeted Outreach:
- Allows you to concentrate on pitching journalists who have demonstrated an interest in covering companies similar to yours. This focused approach increases the likelihood of capturing their attention.
2. Informed Pitches:
- By furnishing a compilation of recent stories that align with your company’s keywords, the tool equips you with relevant conversation starters for your pitch. This not only demonstrates your awareness of the journalist’s work but also enhances the chances of eliciting a positive response.
In essence, this feature empowers you to streamline your outreach efforts, ensuring that your pitches are directed toward journalists who are most inclined to engage with and cover your company. The provision of contextual information enhances the effectiveness of your communication strategy.
Journalists frequently switch between publications, making it essential for a robust PR tool not only to discover their contact details but also to verify the information’s current validity. Without this verification, you might receive responses indicating that the email no longer exists, leading to communication challenges.
Eliza Medley, a seasoned content marketer at Ivory Research with extensive experience in PR outreach, emphasizes the significance of identifying the right journalist, crafting an appropriate pitch, and ensuring the accuracy of their contact information. She acknowledges the common struggle in this process:
“Finding the journalists I want to pitch is hard enough, but figuring out how I want to pitch them and verifying their email address is a HUGE pain for me. It seems that some software solutions have solved some of these aspects but not all of them.”
At Bender Group, we adopt a crowdsourced approach to email validation. If any of our users discover that a journalist’s email is no longer functional, they can report it to our team. We commit to finding the journalist’s new, working email within 24 hours.
Purpose and goals of this feature: Streamlines your efforts by not only locating but also validating journalists’ current and operational contact information, saving you time and avoiding communication setbacks.
Once you’ve compiled a list of relevant journalists to pitch, the question arises: What’s next?
If your approach resembles describing your company akin to how mothers talk about their children, don’t anticipate a flood of responses from journalists eager to learn more.
Analyzing articles featuring companies reveals that journalists seldom focus solely on a company and its offerings. Instead, they often contextualize a company’s product or work within broader social, political, or economic issues. Some commence articles with anecdotes related to the company.
When initiating PR for a brand not previously featured in the press, I prefer targeting personal blogs due to the accessibility of bloggers compared to reporters. Utilizing SEO tools like Moz or SEMRush, I identify popular articles by specific bloggers.
At Bender Group, we provide diverse pitch templates, each built around a compelling angle such as:
- Your personal story
- A larger issue your product addresses
- What inspired the creation of your company
- How your company compares with (or disrupts) existing competitors
We can also assist in crafting personalized pitches.
Exercise caution with PR tools offering only a single pitch template or encouraging the mass distribution of the same pitch to numerous journalists. Journalists receive a multitude of pitches, and a generic one lacking personalization—such as referencing their past articles or aligning with their interests—is easily discerned. Such pitches risk being overlooked, ignored, or worse, reported as spam.
Beyond the conventional approach of pitching journalists for potential future coverage, it proves beneficial to identify journalists currently seeking stories and sources for their ongoing articles. At Bender Group, we enhance our search database by incorporating journalist requests sourced from Twitter and HARO (Help a Reporter Out), a service that dispatches daily emails featuring journalist requests.
This unique feature enables you not only to connect with journalists likely interested in your story based on their past work but also to engage with those actively in the process of writing a story. This dynamic interaction increases your chances of being featured, as the journalist is actively seeking contributions.
A significant advantage provided by a PR firm lies in the relationships and connections their team has cultivated over years of experience in the industry. While securing press features through personal pitches is feasible (as many of our users have achieved), collaborating with professionals who have established ties with journalists enhances the likelihood of their pitches being acknowledged and considered.
To assess a PR firm’s network, examine the publications they’ve assisted clients in getting featured in and identify the contributing journalists. The more diverse and authoritative the publications (think New York Times, BBC, CNN, etc.), the more robust their connections.
It’s a given that PR firms, being service providers, should craft and dispatch pitches for you. Simultaneously, it’s essential to furnish your PR firm with a list of talking points and responses to frequently asked questions about your company’s operations. This ensures that they present your story and company in a comprehensive manner, addressing any potential inquiries.
For instance, consider the scenario of AirBNB in its early stages. Ensuring your PR firm has well-prepared answers regarding safety and insurance safeguards against journalists questioning how hosts are protected in case of property damage caused by guests. This proactive approach avoids potential portrayals of your company as untrustworthy.
If you’re enlisting a PR service to handle your outreach, their responsibilities extend beyond identifying press opportunities to actively creating them. How?
Given the fierce competition for attention on the internet, news outlets strive to maintain audience engagement by consistently publishing new content. In addition to securing journalists to cover your company, a PR service can facilitate continual mentions and credits in various articles by providing quality content and/or assets.
Examples of content and assets often featured include:
- Original research
- High-quality content
- Thought leadership guest posts (where you share expertise and experience on a topic and earn a link to your company)
Remember the time when Uber delivered ice cream and puppies? It wasn’t merely for the “awww” reactions; it was a well-thought-out publicity stunt aimed at securing press coverage. If your budget allows, you can embark on a similar path by orchestrating something intriguing or daring, either involving your product or related to it.
In such cases, a reputable PR firm should assist you in:
- Brainstorming captivating event or stunt concepts
- Coordinating logistical aspects
- Pitching relevant journalists in advance, proposing coverage of the event
- Arranging for photographers and videographers to document the occasion
You can secure multiple features in the same publication by undertaking noteworthy initiatives or achieving significant milestones. Hence, it is crucial, when hiring a PR service, to regularly provide them with company updates. This allows them to pitch newsworthy events to their journalist contacts effectively.
Examples of newsworthy developments include:
- Introducing a new feature
- Securing a new investment round
- Reaching a specific number of users or customers
- Launching a campaign with social impact
- A PR tool should assist you in independently pitching journalists by identifying those likely to be interested in your story. Additionally, it should provide templates for crafting effective pitches.
- A PR service should contribute to your consistent press coverage by pitching journalists on your behalf and creating compelling content and events.
Questions to Assess a PR Tool’s Worth:
1. Do they help me identify journalists likely to cover stories about my company?
2. Do they assist in finding journalists’ contact information?
3. Do they provide reference templates for crafting effective pitches?
4. Do they help locate journalists actively working on a story to which I can contribute?
Questions to Evaluate a PR Service’s Value:
1. Are their fees contingent upon securing press coverage for me?
2. How extensive are their press relationships?
3. How innovative are their campaign and content ideas, demonstrated by their past work?
4. What types of companies do they typically work with? (A positive sign is if they work with companies in the same field, indicating a better understanding of how to pitch your business.)
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The Bender Group is a boutique public relations firm that combines the strongest elements of traditional PR with innovative techniques to consistently secure top-tier media placement for our clients.