There is a general belief among publicists that a solid media Rolodex will get your client in the news. Even business owners are buying into this theory. Potential clients frequently ask me which reporters I know in “tech” or “political” or “fashion” — you name it.
They seem to believe that a friend or “contact” at the right paper or TV station will get their business in the news, but is it true?
What happens when you can’t get traction for a story, no matter how hard you pitch it? Or worse, when journalists tell you, “that’s not a story.”
When this happens, it is time to redefine the narrative. In journalism and PR, the story narrative is crucial to success. Without a strong narrative, there will never be a media placement.
During my years as a news producer with NBC and CBS, there were many times when I pursued a story only to discover that the story I thought I was pursuing was actually a different story. When this happened, we had two options – kill the story or salvage it.
As Executive Producer with WNBC, I oversaw a very large production budget that funded the Special Projects unit. At the time, GE owned NBC, so as every shareholder knows, GE was very big that you come under budget or you get fired.
There were many times when I approved a story idea and we invested money into the story, only to discover half-way through the story that it wasn’t there. This was when we had to put on our creative hats and think of a way to salvage the story.
Local TV is still by far one of the most targeted ways to get your story in front of consumers. It is especially effective when you want to sell a product or service to a community.
A recent report from Nielsen found consumers spend an average 4.3 billion minutes watching content on their laptop, tablet, phones and TV. And when it comes to consuming information on the community, those viewers turn to their local news.
MACIAS PR recently ran a campaign in Baltimore for a nonprofit that needed to raise awareness for their community programs. The nonprofit wanted people in the community to learn about their free tech work training programs that could help them launch a career in tech.
This TV segment, which you can see above, was far more effective than any 30-second commercial. The segment told the story through an actual student, which was much more persuasive and emotional than any canned commercial message.
TV and newspaper reporters face different deadlines, which means one size does not fit all when it comes to pitching. The best PR firms understand the best times to approach journalists. And it’s not as obvious as you think. This is one of the many insider tactics MACIAS PR applies when getting our story ideas in front of reporters.
A journalist’s deadline varies by beat and city but generally speaking, every TV reporter — that files a daily story — is under deadline three hours before the newscast.
Many publicists know the unwritten rule is to never pitch a story during a newscast, but that’s not always the case. There are times when it is not only appropriate but strategic to pitch during a newscast.
Clients are always asking me what I think of press releases posted on the PR newswires.
“Why can’t we just write a press release and post it on PRWeb or PRNewsWires? It gets picked up by everyone.” They say.
It seems simple enough on the surface.
PRWeb writes on their home page, “Generate Buzz Online… Forever. Your news lives on the web forever, earning you new business time and time again.”
PRNewswire makes an even bolder claim on their website: “PR Newswire is the authoritative source of news and information for leading global media organizations…. We distribute to more than 200,000 media points and 8,000 websites, offering the most ways to reach your audience online and off.”
So will paid press releases on these PR newswire distribution outlets generate buzz for your business? It depends on what kind of buzz you are looking for and what the announcement is you will be posting.
A PR firm is one of the most influential decisions you can make for Series A funding. The media exposure and brand awareness generated from your PR campaign will introduce your product and service to investors and consumers. Or, if your PR firm fails to generate exposure, your chances for funding dramatically decrease, especially if you fumble the message.
So what should you look for when trying to decide the best PR agency for your Series A Tech Startup?
The owner of an affiliate service emailed me recently, asking about a PR starter kit for her clients. Her intentions were in the right place with her email.
“I’m looking for a very inexpensive package to offer my (affiliates), a sort of starter kit to help kick-start their marketing campaign. Most of them have no clue what to do,” she wrote.
Hiring a publicist is not like buying a shirt. There is no universal “starter kit” that works for every business.
For each campaign to be successful, you need to identify the story and what makes it unique. If you are selling t-shirts to teenagers, that requires a different publicity strategy than selling suits to men. And to underscore that statement, it’s even more strategic when targeting women.
PR is in many ways like a puzzle. The best PR firms will connect the dots and identify the right narrative for your business.
An experienced media strategist will also find ways to fit your narrative into the larger, media puzzle.
MACIAS PR has a consistent track record for securing stories with the biggest names in news. From the NBC Today Show to Good Morning America, our firm has gotten on our clients on these morning shows. We find unique ways to connect your story line into the news line.
It’s not an easy task, especially in today’s cluttered market where startups of all sizes are striving to stand out in the market.
When are press releases worth the money? Paid press releases with the PR newswires can be an element of a larger media strategy, but if you are thinking of spending the few hundred dollars for the placement, make sure you ask yourself a few questions first to ensure you are pursuing the right strategy.
Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself before you invest the money.