We’re in the information age and everyone seems to need access to the right information at the right time, which means they also have to provide the right story about their own services to others. However, few people choose to become a publicist themselves and even fewer know when to hire one.
Having run a marketing communication company and having worked in the entertainment industry, I’m often asked, “When do I need a publicist?” The answer is obvious when watching for the warning signs. If three or more of the below warning signs appear during a project, it’s time to hire a publicist.
1. Can’t Think like a Reporter: Journalists need attention getting and entertaining stories regularly. They also need stories that are focused on their area of news. The best way to prep a press release is to imagine standing in a reporter’s shoes and asking the question, “Will this interest my readers?” By using an objective and unbiased perspective we can obtain greater objectivity on what we’re promoting, which will provide greater access to the media.
2. Don’t Know the Rules: Capturing the media’s attention with great news is only a small part of the puzzle. Knowing what to pitch, when to pitch it, and how to pitch it is almost an art form in of itself. A publicist knows these things like the back of their hand and takes specific actions to constantly prep and update the detailed information. This develops open communications with the press and avoids the disasters associated with reporters who have little time for amateurs.
3. No Time to Read Outside of Market: Great publicists continually read outside of their market to stay up on the latest trends in other industries. This gives them a creative advantage when they turn their focus back to their own industry. This discipline helps them to understand how changes affect the target markets and empowers them to design campaign changes that can take advantage of the trends before they peak.
4. Don’t Receive Media Alerts: Following every social media discussion on a topic of expertise is difficult, let alone knowing when and where it was published. To stay on top of who is being quoted, many publicists employ a tracking service to gather the information. The more popular services include Newsie.com, Talkwalker.com, and Mention.net.
5. Don’t Understand Value of Local Media: Local media generates area attention, which generates regional press. If done properly, regional press generates statewide and national press, which in turn can generate international press. All news stories start at the local level and swell outward like a grassroots movement. Each step requires a fanning of the PR flames into a blaze. Those who attempt to start at the national level typically fail.
6. Not Creative with Subject Line: Since email and social media have become primary channels of contact with the press, it’s critical to make sure the subject line in the correspondence is pithy and sells the press. The words chosen must generate a newsworthy feel for the press to consider it. Otherwise the notice may never be read and considered.
7. Struggle to Build Strong Relationships: The stronger the relationship with the press, the more opportunities surface for getting a message out. This can be extended with “thank you” notes following interviews and published stories. Staying in touch also increases visibility and brings opportunities only given to reliable sources of news.
The goal of the publicist is to go beyond the accumulation of great mentions, features and reviews. They’re job to is create news and facilitate its dissemination in various media, while building trusted relationships that can be called upon in times of new and big releases.
© 2013 by CJ Powers