Chapter 1: Introduction to Public Relations(PR)
1.1 Why is it important to submit Press Releases?
Getting covered and featured in Premium publications, National and Regional Newspapers, Blogs and Portals has tremendous advantages for you and your brand. Press Releases help you take your message to the Press and readers, thereby, improving the credibility and communication of your brand.
Hi, my name is Nitin Jain, and I am an Entrepreneur and Founder of India PR Distribution.
This blog post is an actionable roadmap to help you get press coverage for your company.
There are various aspects we need to focus on when it comes to founders and entrepreneurs trying to get press coverage for their Press Release.
In this blog post, I explore the specific factors that go into the reporter’s decision to write about your company in his or her publication. I share everything I know from my own experiences with you about what works and what doesn’t.
By the end of this useful guide, you will know:
- How to get your Press Release featured in media?
- How to feel comfortable with the entire process of getting press?
- How to plan and execute a PR initiative that gets you coverage in your favorite blogs as well as a handful of mainstream publications?
We start with an exercise to help you better articulate your company story and your Press Release. We discuss the importance of relationships and how you can leverage relationships with reporters.
Chapter 2: Essential Questions That You Need To Ask Yourself Before A PR Campaign
2.1 Before Starting A PR Initiative, Consider These Questions
A good Public Relations(PR) initiative isn’t just about media coverage. It’s about building a narrative around your brand and really finding your place in the market.
Before you reach out to any reporters, you want to be able to answer these questions.
4 Questions to ask yourself at the start of your PR campaign:
- What are you?
- Why are you?
- What problem are you solving, and how are you solving it?
- Why should people care?
Let’s go through these and take a closer look. Let’s assume that we are doing a Press Release activity, PR for Facebook. Obviously, Facebook is in a position where it doesn’t need to do much to get Press coverage, but it’s a company we all know and recognize, so it’s perfect for this example.
- What are you? – This one is pretty simple. What is your company, and what is it do? You probably answer this one thousand times before, so it shouldn’t be too difficult.
Facebook is an online social networking service that allows users to keep up with their friends and family.
- Why are you? – Why does your company exist? What’s your mission?
In the PR world, why is it actually more important than what. People may not care about your product’s underline technology or features, but they do care about the mission and what your product forms power them to do.
For this one, Facebook’s official mission statement works perfectly.
Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.
- What problem are you solving, and how are you solving it? -What are the specific needs of your target market, and what are you doing to fill those needs, so for example:
People want an effective way to stay connected with friends and family, discover what’s going on in the world, and share and express what matters to them.
The Facebook platform allows users to do all of these things.
- Why should people care?- What makes your story interesting enough to share? Why would readers be interested in reading a story about you, or to put it another way, why would you be interested in reading a story about you?
Facebook is changing the way we communicate and connecting people around the world in an unprecedented way. That why people should care.
Now clearly, I am not actually trying to do Facebook PR, so I kept these answers pretty short and simple.
You definitely want to go deeper, which shouldn’t be a problem because you do know your company inside and out.
Spend a good amount of time thinking about these questions and write down your answers.
This exercise will help you better articulate your story, so you want to keep all of this in mind as we move forward.
Chapter 3: How to Develop Relationships with Reporters
3.1: The Secret behind Successful Press Release Distribution
It is important to start cultivating relationships with reporters, journalists and bloggers.
When I say cultivating relationships, what I really mean is establishing a professional relationship.
So, how can you do that with a journalist? The same way we do it with anyone by being professional, courteous, and providing some value with no expectation in return.
In this section, we take a closer look at what journalists want.
3.2: What Journalists Want?
Journalists and publishers want to tell stories. Unfortunately, the fact that your company exists is not a story in itself. As I mentioned earlier, why is more important than what, keep that in mind.
But let’s go deeper.
Journalists prefer to cover relevant and engaging news and stories that their readers haven’t heard before. In TechWorld and Silicon Valley, in particular, these will often be funding and accusation stories.
In the past, it was common to give an exclusive story to one particular journalist to form a bond and hopefully get more coverage from that journalist in the future. You are leaving lots of other opportunities on the table by only talking to one journalist. With that said, an exclusive can be a great tool for damage control.
Above all else, journalists want people to read their content, engage with it, share it, and appreciate it.
You can start building a solid relationship with any press reporter by being part of the community and consistently interacting with them. If you leave enough meaningful comments, share enough of their content, and engage with them on social media, you will be noticed.
I have actually made quite a few friends this way. Even if the reporter doesn’t initiate any contact, you will be a familiar face when you reach out to pitch your company.
3.3: What to Do If You Have No Pre-Existing Relationships with Journalists for Your PR?
If you need coverage but don’t have any pre-existing relationships or time to form new ones, ask around your network to see if you get an introduction to any publication or reporter.
Anything you can do to make cold outreach a little bit warmer will increase your chances of success and getting your Press Release published.
LinkedIn is great for this.
Look around for a second or even third-degree connection; see if one of your mutual contacts can make an intro.
If all else fails, the next section will cover everything you need to know about cold outreach to journalists, bloggers, and reporters.
Chapter 4: Media Outreach
4.1: Cold Outreach to Reporters and Journalists
Sometimes pre-existing relationships with reporters aren’t available, so you need to do cold outreach to publications, bloggers, and newspaper journalists.
Even if you know a couple of journalists, it’s still a good idea to get in touch with many others to maximize your exposure and increase the chances of more coverage for your Press Release.
In this section, we go over what you need to know about pitching journalists without building up a relationship first.
We cover finding the right reporters to contact, getting to know them, perfecting your narrative, putting together a press kit, and going in for the pitch.
There is a lot of information in this section.
We start by covering each component in detail, and then at the end, we take a step back and wrap it all up into a more cohesive PR campaign and plan.
4.2: Which Journalists Should You Reach Out To?
The first question that we have to answer is which journalist should you reach out to.
If you have a good understanding of your industry, you can probably name a few people you like to speak with. But it’s generally not a good idea to go straight to the high-profile journalists that everyone knows, and here it’s why.
Often, the first thing a reporter will want to see is what other people are saying about you. (In other words, “If I Google you, what will I find?”.)
Social proof is significant even when it comes to getting press. But don’t worry, you can work around this. Not all journalists are creative equal; there is a higher key between publications and even between reporters at the same publication.
I would suggest starting at the bottom of the totem pole, look for relevant hobbyist blogs and small publications that are just starting, and then work your way up to the bigger guys as you get some coverage under your belt.
Now it’s a good time to mention that you need to be focused on who you reach out to!
Don’t just start sending emails to everyone who covers anything vaguely related to your industry.
If you are trying to get press for a company that makes cheese, for example, you want to contact a blogger who writes about cheese products, not one who writes about cooking utensils.
Earlier, we used Facebook as an example, so that we will do the same here.
Facebook is a technology company, but it doesn’t make sense to reach out to just any random tech blog.
How to Search for Bloggers and journalists?
We want to be extremely specific, so we look for a specific cover social media blog.
- A simple Google search will help you find some candidates.
- Pretending for a moment that Facebook is a brand new product! We want to narrow down our results by looking through each website’s archive to see if they cover that sort of thing.
- Once we prepare a list of publications, bloggers, and the like, we look for a contact email address on the website and add it to a list or a spreadsheet.
- Do this with the small personal blogs in your industry, and then move on to the mid-tier multi-author blogs.
- It’s a good idea for a site full of multiple writers to locate a specific writer’s email address.
- This is often found below their articles around their author page. You can also check the site’s about page for a list of all the writers and their contact information.
- You can then do the same thing for larger industry-specific blogs; make sure the site is relevant.
- Please find the contact info of this specific writer and add it to your list.
- Now it’s time to move on to the major focus publication. There often have a broader scope, so it’s important to do your research and be very selective about which reporters you add to your list.
Let’s assume MARK ZUCKERBERG is about to launch Facebook, and he’s looking for Press Release coverage!
He will probably want to get covered on TechCrunch.com– but Tech Crunch has many different writers, and we only want to contact the one that’s likely to write about us.
Most big sites have different sections in categories you can use to view specific content. In the case of Facebook, one takes a look at the social media section on Tech Crunch.
We can see which writers frequently cover social media and determine which of them would be most interested in our story.
We do the same thing, check out their author page, locate their email address and add it to our list.
If you have trouble finding a reporters email address, you may be able to find them on Twitter and say
“Hey, I have something cool I think you may be interested in what so good email address to reach you.”
Most of the time, they will be happy to give it to you.
So, do some research on the bloggers and reporters covering your industry? Make a list of contact information and then make a point to start from the bottom of the totem pole that is relevant personal blogs and small publications before working your way up to the big guys.
How long of the list you make is, it’s totally up to you. It depends on the size of your industry and whether you are going for regional or global coverage.
If you are running a low-called small business, a dozen of reporters should be just fine!
If you are a global tech start-up, I won’t stop anywhere less than a hundred, and you may even want to go upwards of five hundred.
It all comes down to how many people you want to reach.
In most cases, I would say the more, the better.
4.3: Getting To Know the Reporters
After you put together a list of reporters, it will be really tempting to send out a single email blast to all of them.
Please resist that urge.
- A little personalization will go a long way when it comes to getting in the press.
- For each reporter on your list, start by reading everything they write.
- Please go through the archive and get a sense of their writing style, personality, and interests.
- Follow them on Twitter to get a taste of their personal life.
- Please familiarize yourself with their background.
All of this will help you establish common ground and personalize your approach. If you have time, become a familiar face on their radar by sharing and interacting with their work, as discussed in the last section. This is a very time-consuming process, but it drives results, and that’s the goal.
Chapter 5: Complete Press Kit Guide
5.1: How to Tell a Compelling Story for Your PR Campaign?
I mentioned in the earlier section that merely your company’s existence doesn’t necessarily guarantee press coverage.
This is important to understand. In most cases, you can’t just show up and say, here I am, and expect everybody to cover your Press release.
It would be best if you created a narrative. In press terms, this is called the angle.
Journalists are curators. Their job and the reason they can interact with auditions are that they filter out all the junk and only share what’s interesting.
Most journalists live by this motto – “Don’t just tell me what your product is; tell me the story in the mission behind it.”
In other words, don’t just tell me what; tell me why.
This is where the question you answer earlier really coming to play.
A few months ago, India PR Distribution was working on a PR campaign for an App company. Their app connects people to nearby taxi drivers allowing them to summon a cab in pay right within a mobile app.
On the users’ side, the app shows the same purpose as services like Uber, but the India PR Distribution didn’t just tell about the app’s features. We shared the narrative of helping traditional Cab Company survive in a post-Uber world. Something no one else is currently doing. This caught the interest of many journalists and we got impressive coverage in leading publications due to this angle.
- Going back to Facebook, we would want to tell the story about the company that started in a dorm room at Harvard and how the website grew so quickly that it has expanded to other universities and has eventually opened up to the public.
- We would want to emphasize the mission, giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connective.
I can’t stress enough the importance of developing a narrative around your brand, even if you have a revolutionary product. If you want to press, you need to wrap that product into a story that makes sense to publish.
5.2: What Is a News Peg and How to Create a News Peg?
When you are developing a narrative around your brand, one component you can’t afford to neglect is a news peg.
This is what makes your story truly newsworthy. You can talk all day about your story and your mission, but some part of that narrative needs to be timely.
The reporters need to understand not only why people should care but why people should care right now.
“A news peg, also called a Story Hook is what makes the story engaging and news-worthy for the reader. The timing of the release of the story to the public is also important. If you are announcing a Product launch in your Press Release, you need to develop a story about how your product and service are relevant in the present time.”
Another example: the endless array of movie stars who are guests on late-night talk shows. Majority of the film stars that are coming on the talk shows have a movie or project coming out. That is the ‘news peg’ for having them on the program then. The reason to do it, and do it now.
If you are launching a new company or product, the launch itself can be your news peg. But that doesn’t really work if your product has been on the market for six months and you are just trying to generate some buzz.
In that case, you should try to connect your story with current events that relate to your industry or if your company recently landed a large investment or few just hit an important milestone like a hundred thousand users, for example,
Whatever the case, it’s always a good idea to make your story timely.
5.3: How to Create a Press Kit?
Before you pitch any reporters, there are few materials you want to have on hand to make it as easy as possible for them to put a story together.
This is called a press kit.
It up to you what you include in your press kit, but generally, these are the necessities.
What does a Press Kit Contain?
- Company overview
- Founder photos
- Product/Brand photos
- Media Contact
- Press Release(s)
Press Kit Contents explained:
- Your company overview is a simple document that explains who you are and what you do doesn’t have to be fancy. A pdf with your company name tagline and a description of what you do should suffice.
- Most journalists who write about you will want to use your logo in the story. Make it easy for them to do so by including a few different format options, .png, .jpeg, photoshop, adobe illustrator. Most reporters will be fine with a transparent .png, but it doesn’t hurt to provide that other option just in case.
- You can also include a couple of Founder shots. These are normally only used if the Founder is a center part of the narrative but some reporters just like them for the human element.
- You also want to provide some high-resolution visuals of your products. Be sure to include a few different images in multiple formats.
- If you are announcing big news, you may want to include a press release, but that not really necessary if you are just pitching a new company or a product.
Turning these files into a press kit; as easy as throwing them into a folder and compressing that folder into a zipped file.
You can then send it over to interested journalists. You can also make your Press Kit available for download on your website.
5.4: What Is the Pitch & Why It’s Important for Your Campaign?
Now it’s time for creating your PR Pitch.
If you have collected a list of journalists, developed your narrative, and created a press kit, you can now start contacting reporters. This is called Pitching Your Press Release.
You want to do this in three ways:
- Starting with small personal blogs
- Moving up to the industry side
- Ending with large mainstream publications.
For the sake of social proof, don’t move on the next way until you got some coverage under your bell from the previous way.
Like I said earlier, try to resist the urge to send out a single mail merge message to everyone on your list. Sending personalize individual messages takes a lot of time but yield much higher results.
Here the good news now.
The emails you will be writing will be short, and I mean really short.
Journalists get hundreds, sometimes thousands of emails a week asking for coverage. They don’t have time to read every 500-word pitch that lands in their inbox.
Keep your pitch short as possible and grab the reporter’s attention just a couple of sends.
Here is the basic email template to send to reporters I recommend
- Quick pitch
- Call to action
Your introduction should be one to two short sentences letting the journalists and reporters know who you are and establishing common ground.
So, for example, if you have been following them, you can include that you are a fan of their blog or enjoyed a particular post in there or something like that.
Don’t be disingenuous if you discover this reporter this week; don’t pretend to be a long-term reader. Your quick pitch really shouldn’t exceed one sentence.
- Briefly let them know what you are doing and why it’s matters.
- Your call to action is a simple offer to send over a press kit or a sample.
- “If you are interested, I would love to send over more information or a press kit, a sample, or whatever. Let me know.”
That it; three to five sentences.
Things to keep in mind when sending emails to Journalists
- I know it’s tempting to send over everything you have right away but trust me, that the quickest way to get buried in a sea of other emails.
- Keep it short, sweet, and to the point, and you will be golden.
- If you don’t hear anything within a week, it’s totally acceptable to send a single follow-up message, but after that, you should assume that they are not interested.
- If you keep emailing, you might annoy them or become background noise, and nobody wants that.
- Keep it to one initial email plus one follow-up, and you will be solid.
5.5: The Perfect Pitch Template
As I mentioned, the optimal pitch format should include the following components:
- Tell the reporter who you are and connect with them somehow.
- Briefly describe what your product is and why it matters.
Call to Action
- Ask the reporter if they’d be interested in receiving more information, a free sample, your press kit, etc.
Let’s put this into a sample template that you can use to apply to your own business:
I’m [Name] from [Company]. [Establish common ground: for example, “I really enjoyed your post about ABC because XYZ.] Anyway, I’m reaching out because we’re building [What], and I thought you and your audience might be interested because [Why]. I’d love to send over [more information/press kit/sample] if you’re interested. Let me know!
Note: This is just an example, and I encourage you to use your own words rather than just plugging your information into the template.
5.6: What Not To Do When It Comes To PR Campaign?
At this point, we have covered the essentials of what you need to do to get press coverage, and we wrap up the process in the next lecture.
But for good measure, I like to take a moment to highlight a few things you should not do, and I warn you I am probably gonna sound a little preachy in this lecture, but the goal here is to prevent you from making some prevalent mistakes.
First of all, don’t send the long pitch right away.
Keep it short and grab the reporter’s attention first.
I really can’t stress this enough most journalists are up to their eyeballs in emails, so the best thing you can do to make sure your pitch stands out is to keep it short and easy to digest.
It’s a little counterintuitive, but it works.
Don’t send out mass emails. Nothing turns a journalist off quite like an email sent to a thousand journalists at once.
I will pretend that it is 100% effective. I am not here to lie to you.
It may get you a couple of press mentions, but most serious reporters will scoff at you, and that bad news for the future because even if you do it right next time.
They may remember you and turn you down.
Sending personalize individual messages is a long process, and it takes a lot of work, but I promise you it is worth it.
Don’t add journalists to your mailing list without permission.
Along the same line is a mass email. You should never add journalists to a mailing list unless they have given you express consent to do so, that called spam, and it happens a lot more than you might think.
I get mail chip emails almost daily for the list that I never signed up for, and when that happens, I do take note of a company that sends it, and I remember that they didn’t respect my inbox, so I don’t write about them.
I also click through the link at the bottom of the email, just unsubscribed, and when I get that little survey from mail chip asking why I unsubscribed.
I do report the list for emailing me without my permission.
It may sound like I am getting fired up over nothing here, but this happens so often that my inbox is almost unmanageable, and that means more time spent on email and less time spent on more important things. I value my time, as does every other journalist, so please do keep that in mind.
Don’t be dishonest to gain common ground.
It’s pretty simple don’t tell me that you have been reading my writing for years and then call me by the wrong name.
Don’t tell me what a big fan you are, and then pitch me something I have never written about.
If you just discovered me today, that totally fine. Be honest and say that.
Don’t follow up repeatedly again. You don’t want to become background noise, and you don’t want to be annoying so send your initial pitch to follow-up about a week later, and if you still haven’t heard anything, just cut your losses and called a day.
5.7: Cold Outreach Wrapup with Examples
This section covers the cold outreach process using Facebook as an example.
So, let’s assume I am MARK ZUCKERBERG, and I build this cool social network called Facebook, and I need a press release coverage.
So I start by identifying the reporters who would be most like to write about my new company.
So we start a list and add any names and email addresses we already know, then we start searching the web using Google and any other resource we can think of to find a blog that covers social media.
With each blog we find, we take a quick look at the archive to determine whether our story would be a good fit and if so, we find an email address and add it to the list.
For the larger blogs in publications like tech crunch and the Walt street journal, it’s very important we take the contact info of a specific writer that covers social media.
We do this until we have at least a hundred names in email addresses, and we may go for more than that because we really wanna reach as many people as possible.
For each reporter, we will do a little bit of research to see what they usually write about and what their interest are. We make a note about this on our list.
At this point, we have our last chance to perfect our narrative.
We need to make sure we have a compelling story to tell, not just how we build this social network come to use it.
We need to be ready to share a mission and why people should care about what we are doing. Again Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.
The platform it’s changing the way we communicate and connecting people around the world and an unprecedented way.
This site started in a Harvard dorm room, and it quickly spread around campus before spreading to other universities and eventually the world.
That our story at the most basic level.
Next, we put together a press kit that includes a few high resolutions logos, screenshots of the Facebook websites, photos of MARK, and a company overview.
We zip up the folder and keep it handy to send over to reporters when they ask.
We may also wanna uploaded it to our website, so if anybody stumbles upon the site instead hey I wanna write an about story this they can go head grab the press kit from there.
And finally, we will start reaching out. We start with the small personal blogs that cover social media, and once we have gotten some coverage from them, we move on to the larger social media sites.
After that, we reach out to publications like TechCrunch and The Walt Street Journal, and each pitch will look something like this.
I’m Mark from Facebook, and we’re building a social network to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. It’s really cool, and I’d love to give you early access and send over a press kit if you’re interested. Let me know!
That’s a really great pitch, it’s simple, which is a must. The only thing that can make it better is a little personalization in the intro, but they will be widely for each reporter.
And that is, it really is that simple!
Chapter 6: After the Pitch
6.1: After the Pitch
Once you have, send out hundreds of emails, the responses should start coming in, and you will get a dialogue going with a few reporters.
The first thing you want to do is send your press kit over to anyone who asks for it.
But for some journalists, that won’t be enough. They want to make it a little more personal, ask you some questions directly and get more information and quotes for their story.
How they do this varies from reporters to reporters.
Some will show you questions over emails. Others want to set up a call over the phone or on Skype.
If you live in the same city as a particular reporter, they may want to do lunch or drinks, but that’s pretty rare.
Local TV and radio stations may have you come over to the studio, or they may ask you to call in.
Whatever the case, make sure you’re available for an interview and whatever format the journalist prefers, that critical.
When a journalist does a story about you, be kind, be grateful and be careful not to burn any bridges if anything goes wrong.
This isn’t likely the last time you will need the press, so it’s good to maintain positive relationships.
6.2: How to Handle Negative Publicity?
If you follow the advice in this course you should be able to a good number of favourable press mentions and that great.
But no company is perfect and bad publicity can happened the best of us.
If the reporters write a story that paint your company in a negative light; it’s not the end of the world.
But it’s crucial that you handle the situation properly.
So you don’t add fuel to the fire.
When you dealing with bad press; rule one is to stay calm or move you emotion from the equation and access the situation objectively.
Most of the time it’s not nearly as bad as it’s seems, we live in a fast pace world where new are cycles are shorter than ever so often the whole story will blow over and be forgotten in no time.
With that said it’s very important that you listen, negative publicity is often indicative of a problem in your business whether that be management or customer service or anything else pay attention to what’s being said in order to your company to see if you can make an improvement.
It’s a normal human response to go under full defensive mode but try to detach yourself and look at the situation as an outsider and then make changes accordingly.
After a negative story is published take a step back and determine whether it will realistically affect your sales or business relationships.
If the publication is well known and read by your target market or if it’s factually inaccurate you may wanna respond if not it’s perfectly fine to stay quiet and let the story fade away.
In fact in some cases you may find that simply ignoring it is the best practise.
If the story contains factual errors you may wanna reach out privately with the reporters.
Most reputable publications will issue correction if they find they have published inaccurate information, so let them know what they got wrong with an honest level headed explanation.
Be careful not to attack them or air any personal grievances just strictly focus on correcting factual errors.
So let’s say there no errors but the story still cast a negative spot light on your business and it appears in a publication that your customer are likely to read.
What you do then?
Well you may wanna respond publicly.
When you do this; make sure you don’t attack the reporter, don’t attack the publication, and just respond carefully and tactfully on your own blog or social media accounts.
Clarify the situation, make an apology, address the issues and let people know that you have taken care of them.
This will help you avoid making enemies with any reporters and in fact a reasonable responds to negative coverage may win you their respect and most importantly it will show your customers that you can handle adversity in respectful manners.
A Secret Weapon To Help You Get Press Coverage In Record Time
Congratulations at this point you have made it through the mid of the course and you should feel comfortable with the entire process of getting press.
But before we wrap up I wanna share with you a secret weapon that will help you to get press coverage in record time. It called help a reporter out.
You may have heard of it, it’s India PR Distribution.
India PR Distribution can help you get covered in many different media outlets including; Hindustan Times, Times of India, AND MORE..
Our packages start from INR 4999/- – Submit your Press Release now.
Congratulations! You are now ready to start your PR campaign and start getting press coverage.