Building relationships with the media
This morning’s live webinar will be available to download later this week. In the meantime, there were a few questions that we didn’t manage to squeeze in, the answers to which are below.
Why do you think it’s important to not read/ignore user comments on news websites?
The commentariat sections on news websites, including Comment is free, Independent Voices and Right Minds, often publish pieces with strong views and opinions. It is on these sections that the comment sections can be plagued with equally strong opinions and even trolls, which don’t make easy or insightful reading.
Obviously it is useful for brands to keep on top of public feedback, but always remember that the amount of commenters compared to the amount of readers is disproportionate. The 90:9:1 principle states that only one per cent of users contribute content to the internet. Though this is generally applied to forums, nationals’ comment threads can be seen as comparable versions and therefore apply by the same rules.
The Guardian’s own readership figures paint an interesting picture of their commenters. Martin Belam, in an analysis on his blog, wrote: ‘At least 20% of the comments left on the Guardian website each month come from only just 2,600 user accounts, who together make up just 0.0037% of the Guardian’s declared monthly audience.’
Using online opinions from any network to make generalisations can produce inaccurate results. The Ad Contrarian makes similar points about Twitter. With only 13% of adults saying they ever use Twitter, it is not representative of the general population.
On the occasion when we do use a form of spray and pray, should we address emails directly or is it ok to send the press release in main body of the email?
Spray and pray generally means sending out a press release to a large number of non-targeted recipients and hoping it will get coverage. Making sure you have the right topics and journalists on your mail-out is very important. If your version of spray and pray means curating a specific, detailed list of a lot of journalists, then this isn’t a bad practise.
As a general rule, a salutation and a line introducing the press release is a good idea. If you are sending it to a large volume of recipients make sure you get all their names right and don’t try and pass it off as exclusive.
When you have lots of stakeholders involved and they need name checking, is this frustrating for journalists? Should the name checking be in the notes to editors?
Endless quotes on press releases can become tiresome for journalists trying to pick out the key facts. If there is a new product or service, the name of a user or someone directly involved with it can be really helpful. Naming everyone from the CEO to the tea maker is pointless as the journalist is unlikely to use any of that information and it can be off-putting to read.
The ‘Notes to Editors’ section is a great place to put all this other information as the journalist can use additional material from it without feeling they have to wade through nonsense first. So in short, yes.
Would you advise using calls or emails when initially contacting journalists?
Though this may vary person to person, it’s probably safer to go with an email first. Emails are more convenient for people on the move or busy when you send them. Unlike a phone call, they can be accessed at the journalists’ leisure.
You say follow up isn’t appreciated by most journalists – could you say if we should just sit back and hope for people to come to us?
This may be difficult, but if you do not have an established relationship with the contact then sitting back and hoping may be your best bet. If you build your relationships in the right way, a follow-up call (some time after the initial email) or follow up email could become part of your process with individual contacts.
How would you recommend gathering data for a press release?
If you’re after monitoring and analysis tools then look no further than CisionPoint. If, however, you want to know what data can attract someone and make them open your email, then I would recommend looking at the research behind your press release. Numbers and percentages are all eye-catching, and quick stats about an industry or the general public can appeal to all types of journalists.
If you are based in a different city to the vast majority of your media contacts and have a very limited travel budget, what tips and tricks would you utilise most?
Email is a big one, of course. After that, social media can be useful to keep on top of the contact’s wants and needs. On Twitter, RT their self-promotion and reply to tweets with helpful solutions or questions. Engagement is vital for the success of any relationship, and social media was made for engagement.
Do you think press releases still work? They aren’t personalised, so are they effective?
I think this highlights the difference between B2B and B2C. Press releases can be the lifeblood of some business-to-business publications, especially ones which now have to maintain an online news section. Making an output switch from monthly to daily can really take its toll on an editorial team that isn’t supported by good PRs.
If you introduce the press releases with a line or two, which can be personalised, then the press release can still be effective for B2C. Obviously, with more competition in the market, exclusivity plays a bigger part but if it’s relevant and interesting there is no reason it wouldn’t work.
There are also emerging ways to distribute content, for example an online newsroom or corporate blog. This can be good for both your SEO attracting relevant readers and drawing your press release to the attention of journalists. If you feel like your releases aren’t getting the results you want, explore alternatives to traditional routes to an audience.
Any tips when finding out what a journalist is into and when they publish? A simple call?
Your best bet is using CisionPoint, which is maintained by a dedicated research department that keeps journalists’ likes, dislikes, press days etc. up-to-date.
How do you get away from feeling like PR is cold calling?
By building your media relations before sending out pitches, you make the process feel less pushing irrelevant releases out and more like supplying useful in
formation to appreciative recipients. If you have spent time on relationships you’ll know what they want and like, and be able support them in their work. Good PRs are invaluable to the media industry.
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