Six to one…that’s the ratio today of public relations practitioners to journalists. To put this ratio into perspective…that’s almost a double increase in the last 10 years. Brands are now competing more than ever to get their article pitch or story noticed by an editor (forget being published). The problem may a shortage of journalists, but that debate can be had another day. The real issue here, is how brands can break through the clutter and find ways to connect with a dwindling editorial community.
Time is of the Essence
Remember the time before 24-hour news cycles, where you could sit down with a cup of coffee and enjoy the morning before leaving for work? If you answered no, it’s because you grew up already accustomed to this endless cycle for news.
As we work to connect with editors and build the type of relationships that goes back to the days when a reporter kept a Rolodex filled with “sources’’ and “go-to-experts,” one key is knowing an editor’s area of focus and and their work style. If you know an editor focuses on interior design, you can bet they’re not going to bite on a plumbing topic.
Another important skill is not overpromising. If you cannot get a CEO to respond to a question, don’t offer to. If you promise to meet a writer’s deadline and fail to deliver, you end up causing more harm than help to the brand’s relationship with that editor. Like most valuable relationships, confidence and trust is built over time.
Put Money Where Your Mouth Is
One means of cementing any relationship is through an in person meeting. In the design and construction industry, there’s no better place than a trade show. Like everyone, editors attend trade shows to see exciting new products, learn about industry trends and hear interesting stories. But they are also building that virtual Rolodex of go-to industry experts.
To best position your brand as one of these industry-leaders is to walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk. Use trade shows as a means of demonstrating your products’ value and showcasing recent research, industry involvement, participation in association committees, projects that benefitted from your brand’s expertise.
Invite editors to meet at your booth and make sure you have a story to tell when they visit. One way you can do that is by designating one person to be the booth tour guide. The more insights and industry knowledge you can share, the more likely you’ll be at the top of editor’s speed dial.
As with all business interactions, be respectful of editor’s time and limit appointments to 30 minutes if at all possible, do not schedule multiple editors during the same time; but if this is unavoidable dedicate separate tour guides.
Finally, a nice handwritten “Thank You” note always goes a long way. After the appointment, make sure you follow up with the media. Whether that’s a phone call or email, use the opportunity to probe for additional opportunities to collaborate. For example, “We talked a lot about data centers and I see you plan to focus on this topic in your June issue. What’s the best way we can help educate your readers?”
Routine contact should continue and be comprised of social and business topics. “See that the Lyons lost again to Chicago, but my real purpose in writing is …..”
If you need help at your next trade show, our media relations experts would be glad to lend a hand. Give us a call at 815-469-9100 and learn more about our services.