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12 useful tips for PR people

by Louisa Klein

1)      If they tell you a product is not suitable for their publication, please listen.  Also, you should avoid insisting and saying things such as ‘You don’t understand why your readers need to know about this product.’ This won’t win anyone over.
2)      You need to know your subject and exactly what you are selling. So many PRs fail to understand the ‘story’ they are trying to push. You must also understand the newspaper you are talking to. Know who the publication’s readers are and how your story is relevant to them.
3)      When using a celebrity to PR your brand, use one that is relevant to the market and publication you want coverage in – it sounds obvious but most people get it wrong. It’s very simple, in fact, just check what celebrities are particularly popular with a particular audience, check how often they are mentioned in that particular publication you want to approach.  If you do this right, you won’t need to phone or email a press release to some grumpy, busy editor: they will be on the site within the hour!
4)      To get it into a newspaper or website it’s got to be news. It can’t look like an advert so it’s got to be subtle. It’s got to be a balance of something relevant, entertaining and interesting that’s new, or sounds new. Plus, pitched right… The Times will be interested in different subjects compared to Telegraph, for example. If you are trying to get coverage with new products, but there’s no effort to dress it up as a news story – no facts, figures, survey results, images, then I’m afraid you will get zero coverage.
5)      Another useful tip I would give PR’s is to study the paper. Make sure what you’re pitching could be placed in at least one section. There’s no point pitching a new bicycle if the publication you’re pitching doesn’t carry a cycling section. If in doubt, ask first.
6)      Target the right journalists – if it’s a health story, contact the health reporter. Don’t just ring up anyone and expect them to be interested.
7)      PRs need to have a bit of basic knowledge about the programme or publication they are contacting. Start at the beginning – when is the show on air/going to print. If a live news show goes on air at 5pm, then perhaps 4.50 is not the best time to call. Personally I’ve lost count of how many times this has happened to me, when I was working for the German TV Pro Sieben. And once I’ve been put in that bad mood, I was unlikely to be won round by whatever they were pitching.
8)      When writing a release you need to ignore the company line the client would want you to write and go straight for the good stuff. You have to grab people’s attention in the first line or they won’t read any further. You need to know who you are pitching it to. I’ve been to so many PR events where the needs of a TV crew have not been considered at all. Crappy backdrop, nothing visual, nowhere to film, noisy etc. You have to cater to the needs of the media more than the unrealistic expectations of your client. Your client might not like it but it’s the difference between getting media attention or not.
9)      Have people available to talk. Release on weekends when TV programmes are desperate, Sunday audiences can be quite large. Grab with the top line sure, but have some good stats and background info and do all the work for the lazy journo, because they are the ones most likely to pick up what is essentially advertising. Think topical – when choosing a survey or a campaign face.
10)   Understand that essentially they don’t care if your brand is promoted – they will only run it if it’s a good news story.”
11)   Time your call. Choose your moment to call carefully. Find out when journalists have to present their stories to their editors and make sure you get in early. Be prepared to listen to what they say and be flexible because you may not have given them everything they need initially and they will have to tailor the story to make the tale work for their particular publication.
12)   Keep your pitch short, Remember who you are pitching to. If it’s for TV you need pictures, video etc. If for Radio you need audio. Also bullet point the headlines as no one needs to read through pages of press. Think pitching around what is happening in the news now!
By Bruce Clark

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