Despite the abundance of marketing tactics available to businesses to build awareness and drive traffic, PR still holds its place as one of the best. It’s a great source of backlinks which are crucial for SEO. Plus, it’s one of the easiest ways to reach MILLIONS of people in one fell swoop. All you need is a killer story.
Unfortunately, when you’re the owner of a company, your idea of what makes a good story could be ever so slightly warped. Your business is your baby so of course, YOU think news about your company is interesting.
However, your audience probably doesn’t.
And when budgets are tight, investing time and money in a press release that’s going to fall flat on its face as soon as you hit the ‘Send’ button on your email, is something to be avoided.
So how do you tell if your PR angle is really newsworthy? Here’s our 5 point plan to test your story.
1. Focus the story on your audience, not yourself.
Is the focus of the press release on you and your product?
Or on your target audience and the problem you solve for them?
As a startup or small business, journalists don’t know who you are. Therefore, any news about how you’re performing isn’t going to interest them, let alone make them write about you.
Their goal is to publish articles that their target audience will read, value and share with others. This means the media is looking for stories that focus on the problems their audience faces and include a solution (or multiple pieces of advice to help).
2. Make sure the problem you’re writing about is actually real.
Let’s say you sell toothbrushes. And your USP is that they light up in the dark when you use them.
If you write a press release about how you’re solving the problem of people wanting a more exciting toothbrush experience, then your story won’t get covered. This is because seeking a more exciting toothbrush experience is NOT A REAL THING.
You could, however, look at people who brush their teeth at unsociable hours such as night workers or early risers. They may need to get ready without disturbing their partners and because your toothbrush lets them brush their teeth in the dark, users’ partners can enjoy better sleep.
3. Quantify the problem.
Another secret to a newsworthy PR angle is to provide supporting evidence to your story.
Journalists get hundreds, if not thousands of press releases a day. They have a set quota of stories they need to publish and time is tight.
If they like your story, and want to run it past their editor, make it as easy as possible for them to publish by limiting the amount of extra work they have to do in researching around the issue.
If you’re making a claim about a problem, find a statistic that supports it. That will create a strong headline.
Then look for additional stats, supporting evidence or case studies of the issue to also include in the press release. These can be included towards the end of the release. You can also offer additional data as part of your email pitch.
4. Check the story hasn’t been done before.
You think you’ve got that killer angle and then the first journalist you speak to says they covered the story a few weeks’ ago.
When planning your story, run a google news search, and look at the sites of the titles you’re going to be targeting in your outreach. Not only will you be able to tell if your angle is new but you’ll get a sense from their other stories of whether or not yours will be a good fit.
5. Have you picked the best time?
A newsworthy PR angle can be made even stronger, or can be torn apart, by your choice of timing.
There are peak periods in the news agenda where no serious PR would bother issuing a company news announcement. Some examples would be the Royal Wedding, the day of the Budget, Government elections and the day of (and day after) a high profile death or national disaster.
Obviously if you’re targeting publications which don’t write about those events, then you’re fairly safe but national media are to be avoided.
On the other hand, your story could be made more newsworthy if it’s topical by issuing it just before a relevant event.
For example, if you sell vitamin drinks, you could write a story about how much longer it takes you to do everyday tasks when you’re dehydrated and issue it just before National Hydration Week.
Yes, that’s a thing.
6. Ask an expert
PR is highly effective, but you have a lot of competition. If you need help to find that killer angle, Upmarketry offers one day PR planning workshops to map out your strongest stories for the year ahead. It also offers monthly PR management services. Just fill in your details here to find out more.
Hannah is Managing Director of Upmarketry.