IF YOUR COMPANY’S CONTRIBUTIONS are newsworthy, but you still aren’t getting much media coverage, you could have a sales problem. That’s right, I said a “sales” problem. The minimum cost of entry into a career in public relations, or PR, is the ability to write. Most people in PR have strong writing skills, and they’re perfectly capable of inspiring readers with the written word. However, because of the sheer volume of press releases crossing the average reporter’s desk each week, writing skills alone won’t land stories. Above-average PR professionals also have strong relationship-building skills with reporters and editors, allowing them to garner more media attention than their writing-focused counterparts. Stellar PR pros couple their writing and relationship-building skills with the finesse of a veteran sales consultant. Very few in the profession wield these unique powers of persuasion, which is why having these skills allows you and your company to stand apart from your colleagues and competitors in a remarkable way. Supporting this premise, PR Newswire reports that just 55 percent of its stories get picked up — no doubt a result of less than stellar pitching or sales skills. To generate a different result, you must transform your approach. Much like the steps in a sales pitch, begin your PR pitch by establishing a relationship with a reporter, which begins by doing your homework. Read a variety of the reporter’s work. Know his or her beat, style and common story angles. Use social media to learn about a reporter’s interests. Use this information to engage and connect with each reporter you call. Then offer the reporter an inspired 30-second elevator pitch about your company — just enough to pique his interest — followed by a request to ask a few questions. Your questions and the reporter’s answers will allow you to tailor the story angle you’re proposing based on the outlet’s content needs. Explain your desire to make the best use of both of your time. Proceed with your needs assessment by asking open-ended questions to get the reporter engaged in the conversation and to identify content needs with which you may be able to assist. There is a direct correlation between the time a reporter spends talking and your likelihood to land a story. Next, restate the content needs and story opportunities that you learned from the reporter. If applicable, offer up a content suggestion by explaining what makes it newsworthy today, how it’s unique, and why the reporter’s readers will care. At this point, you’ve earned the right to ask for the story outright. If you get anything other than a definitive yes, go back to the needs assessment. Inquire further about what’s causing the reporter’s pause, uncovering any objections, resolving them and attempting to close again. By taking a relationship-based sales approach to public relations, you have the ability to dominate local media in your category.
This blog was written by RedRover’s CEO & Founder, Lori Turner-Wilson. Read more about Lori and her unwavering commitment to guaranteed marketing results in her bio.