PR. Alongside marketing, business development, getting press just seems to be something that companies need to do at some point.
If you’re ready to take your first big step toward getting press, you’re probably researching some PR tools and/or services. But what the heck should you expect PR tools to offer you? What should you expect PR services offer you? Making sure you use the right PR tool or service for your user acquisition and growth goals (not to mention budget!) is key to getting results. And not doing something just because you’re ‘supposed to’.
First off, let’s clarify what goals you should expect to achieve with press coverage first (hint: it’s not just about adding press logos to your landing page):
Getting featured in the press often requires you to put your company in front of journalists, instead of hoping and waiting for them to find you. And the most efficient and effective way to do that these days? By email. In fact most journalists prefer it.
But are you going to blast every journalist whose email you can get a hold of? Hopefully not! Which is where a PR tool steps in.
The journalists most likely to write about you are ones who have written about similar companies in the past. After all, a fashion journalist probably isn’t going to cover your B2B software. An investigative journalist probably won’t care too much you created a subscription box for kids.
A good PR tool should pull up recent stories related to keywords that describe your company (examples: peer-to-peer, crowdfunding, artificial intelligence) and provide the contact information of the journalists who wrote them:
Here's how the journalist search results look like on JustReachOut.
A PR tool should also let you build and save a list of these relevant journalists, so you can focus on pitching them later.
Purpose and goals of this feature:
Journalists tend to bounce from publication to publication often so beyond finding their contact information, a good PR tool should also help you verify it is still working. Otherwise, you’ll be getting a lot of responses from journalists, but of the “this email doesn’t exist” type.
At JustReachOut, we take a crowdsourced approach to email validation. If one of our users find a journalist email no longers works, they can report it to our team and we will find the journalist’s new working email within 24 hours.
Purpose and goals of this feature:
You have a list of relevant journalists to pitch. Now what?
If you’re planning to write a pitch talking about your company in the way mothers talk about their children, don’t expect too many journalists writing back begging to learn more.
Open up most articles featuring a company and you’ll notice the journalist rarely talks only about a company and what they do. They tend to talk a company’s product or work by placing it in the context of a social, political or economic issue it’s related to or they start off the article with a few stories related to the company.
For example, in the article below, the Business Insider journalist doesn’t focus on Chris Sacca’s startup Silk and what it does. The main focus of the article is Chris’ personal story and how hustling opens many work and business opportunities for you:
At JustReachOut, we provide you with many different pitch templates, each of which is based on a compelling angle including:
We can also help craft the pitch for you.
Be cautious of PR tools who only offer one pitch template as a reference point or encourage you send the same pitch to dozens of journalists.
Journalists receive thousands of pitches. If your generic pitch lands in their inbox with no personalization (personalization can include mentioning one of their past articles or relating to one of the journalist’s personal interests), it’ll be obvious you blasted the same pitch to several other journalists. That’s an email that’s getting skipped, ignored or worse, getting reported as spam.
Beyond pitching journalists to get featured in a future story, it helps to be able to find journalists who are actively seeking stories and sources for articles they are working on right now. At JustReachOut, we add journalist requests from Twitter and HARO to our search database (HARO is a service that sends out daily emails of journalist requests).
This means that in addition to finding journalists who are most likely to be interested in your story based on what they’ve written about in the past, you can also connect with journalists who are actively writing a story. This gives you a better chance of getting featured since the journalist is the one actively seeking contributions.
Here’s an example of a HARO journalist request:
One of the biggest advantages a PR firm can offer you is the relationships and connections to journalists their people have built from years of working in the business. While you can definitely land press features by pitching journalists yourself (many of our users have done it!), working with someone who has relationships with those journalists improves the chances their pitch would be read and considered.
To gauge the number of connections a PR firm has, see what type of publications they’ve helped clients get featured in and who wrote it. The more diverse and authoritative (think the New York Times, BBC, CNN, etc.) the publications are, the better.
It also goes without saying that PR firms, since they offer a service, should craft and send pitches for you. At the same time, you should provide your PR firm with a list of talking points and answers to commonly asked questions about how your company works. This ensures that they pitch your story and company in a way that doesn’t leave any unanswered questions.
For example, imagine you were AirBNB first starting out. You would want to make sure your PR firm has your answers to questions about safety and insurance and offer that to journalists they pitch for you. This way, you avoid journalists wondering how hosts are protected in case guests cause property damage in their article, making your company look untrustworthy.
If you’re hiring a PR service who’s doing the work for you, then they should not only help you find relevant press opportunities but also create them for you. How?
Since the rise of the Internet, news outlets fiercely compete with blogs and other types of sites for attention. They need to keep publishing new content to keep their audience coming back. This means in addition to getting journalists to write about your company, you can continually get mentioned or credited in different articles by providing them with quality content and/or assets.
Content and assets publications often feature often include:
Time republished content created by The Muse with a link back to their company:
Remember when Uber delivered ice cream and puppies? They didn’t do it just for the “awww” reactions. It was a publicity stunt intended to land press coverage. If you have the budget for it, you can do the same by doing something interesting or outrageous either using your product or related to it.
If you decide to go that route, a good PR firm should help you come with up:
You can get featured multiple times in the same publication if you do something newsworthy or hit an important milestone. That’s why, if you hire a PR service, it’s important to keep sending them company updates so they can pitch the newsworthy ones to their journalist contacts.
Newsworthy developments can include:
A PR tool should help you effectively pitch journalists on your own by finding journalists most likely to be interested in your story and company. They should also provide you with templates to use as reference s for crafting effective pitches .
A PR service should help you land regular press coverage by pitching journalists for you and by creating compelling content and events.
Here’s a list of questions you can ask to decide “Is this PR tool” worth it?
Here’s a list of questions you can ask to decide “Is this PR service” worth the money?