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Hughes blog post: Why your rivals attract more media coverage than you

30 June 2015    

You’re reading your morning newspaper or checking the latest news on your smartphone over breakfast and see yet another media story featuring one of your competitors. Argh!

After kicking the cat on your way out the door, you spend the rest of the morning in a grumpy mood wondering how your competitor does it, and why journalists never seem to call you for an interview.

Securing media coverage to promote your organisation is a challenging exercise at the best of times, whether you’re targeting a major metropolitan newspaper or a TV news outlet, but there are tactics that can help. And some organisations are simply better than others at implementing them.

Firstly, do you have anything worthwhile to say? It’s an obvious question, but without anything genuinely newsworthy to say to a journalist, you’re wasting everyone’s time.

Secondly, who are you going to say it to? Sending a news release or story idea to a general admin email address that you found on a website is unlikely to generate a response, so do your research and identify a specific journalist or producer – particularly if they’ve run similar stories in the past – and personalise your pitch accordingly.

Thirdly, are you – or your company’s spokesperson – readily available for an interview or photo? And “readily available” includes right now! Journalists work to tight timeframes, so you need to be prepared to work to their schedules – not yours. The more accessible and helpful you are, the greater your chances of developing stronger relationships with reporters, and in turn, securing greater media coverage.

Also, always keep track of news and current affairs through traditional and social media, especially relating to your industry sector. This will help guide you on the type of stories the media wants – and who’s writing/presenting them – and may also prompt publicity opportunities if you’re ready to jump on relevant news topics of the day.

To that end, timing is important. For example, if the State Government is handing down its annual Budget on the day you’re planning to issue your news release – or if there’s another major breaking news story that every journalist seems to be covering – consider holding off until a quieter news period.

Finally, always be clear what your objectives for publicity are, who your target audience is and what your key messages are. And think in pictures too – a good photo or vision opportunity can often be the difference between whether a story gets a run or not, so be ready to suggest something interesting, quirky or creative when dealing with a journalist.

Ultimately, it takes a sound communications strategy and a consistent approach to maximise your publicity efforts, which will result in journalists contacting you for stories ahead of your rivals.

- Kieran Hall