Want Ink? Here’s What You Need.

inkThere is a lingering myth that PR professionals rely exclusively on their contacts to generate “ink” for their clients. There was a time when press agents met up with journalists in local watering holes, handed them news releases, and “negotiated” column inches. But those days went out with manual typewriters, arm braces and fedoras. Today, many journalists are filing two stories a day and keeping a blog. Who has time for two-martini lunches anymore?

Even though the old press-PR relationships may be gone forever, emailing, texting, and tweeting have made it easier than ever to reach journalists. The trick is to have our ducks in a row. It’s a volume game for many reporters, so the easier we make their lives, the more likely they are to write a story. It’s about respecting their time and giving them useful information rather than marketing superlatives.

Here’s an example of a recent piece that featured one of our clients. When we talked to the reporter, we had to have a number of elements in place:

  1. A really good reference user who was willing to go on the record: If you’re looking to get press coverage about a product or service – beyond a passing mention in a round-up article – the journalist will want to interview a customer who can discuss how he or she used your offering and what problem it solved. That’s the story.
  1. Numbers and metrics to show a definable result: Along the lines of a reference user, numbers and metrics will make it easy for the journalist to illustrate your product’s value in quantifiable terms. If there are no numbers to back up your story, all you have is an anecdote – and anecdotes don’t get ink. Things like TCO, ROI, labor savings, time savings, and financial savings are all good to have.
  1. A really good product or service: This should go without saying, but if you’re inviting people to learn more about your product or service, make sure it’s ready for the scrutiny. You’re dealing with reporters who know the difference between marketing puffery and a legitimate news story.

While we continue to hear about the changing nature of media, all that has really changed is that it’s become more fragmented as newer channels change how news gets distributed. But the principles of good journalism are the same, and coverage from influential outlets and reporters is still the best kind of PR your brand can get.


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