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Of all the tools in the marketing and PR tool box, good press coverage may be the trickiest to utilize. It may take a while to get the hang of the right people to talk to and how to properly word a pitch letter, but once they are mastered these skills can take a business to the next level.

In this article, we’ll take a look at 5 steps you can start implementing in your PR/marketing strategy today that will get you started on the right path.

1. Have a Solid Press Kit Ready to Go

Don’t even think about approaching journalists or TV talk shows without having a professional, complete press kit ready to give out. You never know when someone will be asking for one, and it’s too important to be just tossed together.

A professional press kit needs to contain the following:

  • Bio(s) of the president/founder/partners with photos (if desired)
  • Company background information
  • Brochure or one pager with product or service details
  • Photos of the offices
  • Any promotional materials
  • Current press release
  • Past media coverage & press releases
  • Contact information

Press kits can either be traditional hard copy or electronic; but whichever you decide, think outside the box! This is the time to get creative. Brainstorm a fun way to deliver your message through eye-catching design or delivery method. Create a package that grabs their attention and don’t let them forget your company name.

2. Approach Journalists the Right Way

Grabbing the attention of a journalist isn’t a tough job – as long as you have something interesting and relevant to say! They’re always looking for the next big story, and are willing to give anyone a shot if that story is relevant to their audience. The important keys to remember when pitching a story to media is developing an angle without hard selling your story, choosing the right audience, and talking to the right person. For example, at a major TV or radio station it isn’t necessarily the hosts that book guests (although they may have some say), but usually the producers. Take the time to find out who exactly you need to talk to. If you can’t find it, pick up the phone and call. Don’t email – call. Create a good impression starting with whoever answers the phone.

Another great tool is to utilize services that connect journalists looking for stories to sources. Help a Reporter Out is a fine example, and a great way to get free press coverage.

3. Write a Professional & Engaging Press Release

A press release is a first impression. If a press release is poorly written, contains spelling errors or isn’t formatted correctly, it will end up in the trash – not in the papers. To make your press release stand out, include an attention grabbing headline, get a statement from the president or another VIP in the company associated to the news item, and make sure it’s news worthy. Don’t send out press releases for everything the company does or the really big items will get lost in the shuffle. Save your press releases for important events. Read over it with a new vision – would this item be interesting to you if it crossed your desk? If not, scrap it and find a new angle or wait for another big opportunity to present itself.

Once your press release is perfected and ready to send out, research a few free online press release directories to add to your list of media. Newswire.com and Babbler are both great places to start.

Finally, don’t forget to include all contact information. It may seem obvious, but when the creative juices are flowing, sometimes the mundane, yet important details get overlooked.

4. Form Relationships, Not Hard Sells

For a marketer or PR person making a transition from sales, it can be a hard lesson to learn that not everything is about the quick, hard sell. In public relations there’s something to be said about the long game. You may not get into a journalist’s good books the first, second or tenth time you reach out, but with a little patience, and a great newsworthy story, it will pay off eventually.

To really make a good impression, make sure to be a bit personal, and always be positive. When writing an email, avoid simple cut and paste tactics and include something that relates specifically to them, for example, why you chose to reach out to that particular journalist or outlet. If following a journalist on social media, comment on an item you liked and add to the discussion. For more tips on how to get more PR through social media, check out our blog post on 5 PR Tips that Seem Impossible (but Aren’t).

5. Follow Up & Stay Connected

Once you’re on their radar, you want to stay there. The key to being a “press darling” is all about cultivating relationships. Think of it as gardening. Once you plant the seed, it needs care; sun, water and even weeding. Journalists like calling on people they know, so don’t let them forget you. Reach out every 6 months to a year, and not only to pitch. Follow them on twitter or add them to LinkedIn and become part of their community. If you become a positive light in their circle, and gain trust that you can deliver professionally when they need a statement or an interview, it will be you they call. Not your competitor.

If you’re just starting to learn how to get press coverage and need a little more help, contact Milgrom Marketing for a turnkey marketing solution, including PR. Get your 30 minute free consultation today to see how Milgrom can take your marketing strategies to the next level.

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