Fuse Agency’s PR FUNdamentals

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Fuse Agency’s PR FUNdamentals

By Samantha Brooks on 31 July, 2018

For any business, no matter what industry, the role of public relations is evolving. The landscape of media is changing and gaining earned media for a business is becoming more competitive than ever. No longer can a business send out a press release and expect multiple journalists to come knocking on the door wanting to publish your client’s story. Today, PR requires more resources and dedication than ever to get a story from a journalist’s inbox into the desired publication. As PR continues to be a competitive landscape, client expectations remain high and it’s important to always stay ahead of the game.

What is Earned Media Anyways?

At Fuse Agency, we often get the question about the difference between earned and paid media. While the two can go hand in hand in an overall marketing strategy, PR largely focuses on the earned side of the equation, while advertising covers the paid side.

Paid media can have many business benefits, including control over content and the ability to directly engage your target consumers. Paid media includes advertisements in all their various forms: TV, print, billboards, social media, PPC, you name it. The activities where a spend is involved is paid media. While paid media activities are important for the larger marketing picture, as you know exactly what message you’re sending consumers, it can be very costly for a business.

Earned media, on the other hand, can be a golden ticket for getting high exposure with limited spend. Any media that is created by a publication, customer, client or advocate of the business falls under the earned media banner. Earned media is not only often a cheaper option for a business, it can also increase brand exposure in a more authentic way. By having a third party endorse the brand, it creates credibility for your business. In saying that,  a drawback of earned media is that journalists and consumers may not always be ‘on-brand’ with the content they share which can create misconceptions.

So how does one ‘earn’ coverage instead of pay for it?

Pitch for the heart

So perhaps you already have a great story for your client or maybe you don’t, but regardless, you’ll need to create a stellar pitch to attract your key media outlets. There are a few ‘must-do’s’ to make sure that your pitch stands out from the hundreds of emails that get sent to journalists every day.

1. Make your value clear

First things first, make your value offer clear from the start. You need to communicate value quickly and clearly. Long winded pitches are more likely to face the delete button. Be concise and to the point. Always have a strong angle and make that’s your focal point from the get-go. Find the unique point of difference for your story and make that clear for the publication’s audience (so the journalist doesn’t have to!)

2. Tailor for every publication

As tempted as you might be, step away from the copy and paste keys. There is nothing worse than a generic pitch that shows no personalisation or relevance to the outlet. Those generic pitches won’t make it past the recipient’s inbox. Journalists want to understand the relevance to their publication. If you’re wanting to work with them, take the time to personalise information for each individual. While it will take more time, it will foster better relationships (and less unsubscribes).

3. Think about the bigger picture

A key component of PR is staying up to date and understanding what’s in the news. When creating your pitch, try to consider the bigger picture and how the pitch can fit into social and cultural topics. Media attention can have a snowball effect, so leverage current conversations in the media to reinforce the relevance of what you’re pitching.

Don’t Get Me Wrong…

PR is fickle. There’s no way around it. Teams can spend hours crafting the perfect message and the media just won’t bite for a number of reasons. However, there are many steps you can take to ensure your pitch is successful (even when every major news outlet seems to be occupied with Love Island’s most recent split).

1. Timing

If you’re working in PR, you always need to stay ahead of the game because media deadlines are always sooner than you would expect, especially for print. Be proactive and work ahead of schedule where you can. Lead times are part of every job and PR professionals need to factor them in.

2. Always follow up

Always follow up your pitch or media release. Given that you’re constantly competing for a journalist’s attention, they often miss your material on the first go. And if they do respond, be ready for feedback, questions and requests for additional materials. You may not always get the response you want, but when you do, it’s important to be ready to jump on that precious lead.

3. Don’t give up

Expect that things aren’t going to go to plan every time. PR is an ongoing process and consistency is a must. While a failed pitch can be disheartening, it’s important to keep going. Have you evaluated all the possible angles and outlets to cover your story? Have you followed up your pitches to the best of your ability? Often times, asking these questions enough means a pitch will get there eventually. It’s all about finding the right timing. And then again, sometimes it just won’t. As you build trust with clients, they will understand that not every publication thinks their announcement or new piece of business is newsworthy. PR professionals can’t force anyone to produce their news. As we said, PR is fickle. 🙂

So there you have it! A quick rundown of what it takes to make it in the biz’. Do you have any tips for your fellow PR pros? What’s worked for you?

-The Fuse Team


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