As an Editor of more than 20 Online News Sites, 1500 hopeful articles land in my inbox each day, all seeking free coverage – so what skills would the writer need to catch my attention?
In 2 words – PR skills – but what is PR?
“If a young man tells his date how handsome, smart and successful he is – that’s advertising. If the young man tells his date she’s intelligent, looks lovely, and is a great conversationalist, he’s saying the right things to the right person and that’s marketing. If someone else tells the young woman how handsome, smart and successful her date is – that’s PR.” – S. H. Simmons
Here’s the things PR’s do that other writers often don’t:
Getting the title right
It starts with the introduction, and if you are using an email approach, that means having a strong title – make it short, snappy and interesting, and if it stands out, I will probably give it a quick glance. Two or more lines and you lost me at hello.
However, there are other factors that will grab my attention:
- Knowing, liking and trusting the PR who sent in the article (relationships)
- The brand could be a household name I want on my site (brand authority) and
- Personalisation – If the email is addressed to me personally, I generally assume that I know the PR and have worked with them before – which pretty much rules out content sent via an automated distribution network.
Make it News and Make it Relevant!
Of the 1400 emails I receive that are destined for the bin, many of them failbecause they are impersonal and I favour the people I have a trusted relationship with. I also like original content.
I instantly reject a piece if the writer does not understand the difference between marketing, SEOcopy and journalism. If it isn’tnews, it won’t get free coverage!
The other big faux pas from writers seeking free business news coverage is they don’t target my readership – for example, I run a site called News from Wales – the clue is in the title, if you write about the USA, it’s never going to interest someone in Wales – or me!
Write with the audience in mind!
If I could share one single secret to getting free editorial coverage, it would be ‘write with the audience in mind’.That is the news audience – not your sales target!
News sites like Business in the News exist purely to keep our readers entertained and informed –not to sell products, so you need to tailor your copy to interest MY readers, not bore on about your product. PRs really get this and that’s why PR companies often succeed at getting more free coverage than an in-house marketing team.
News copy is far more fact-based and far less sales-led – that’s because their focus is on establishing credibility, building your reputation gently and professionally – they don’t over-egg the pudding and focus on relationships, not selling. If you do the same, you will get more free coverage.
Include a high-quality image
Editors like a neat package that won’t cause too much work – so if targeting the printed media, send in an image that is high resolution, which means 300dpi or more. Online, it usually should be at least 1000px wide. Neither will run a 100 x 100 logo or a moth ridden pic the size of a postage stamp! A strong image is your friend.
Want a shortcut? Hire a PR
If you write business news copy and it’s not getting editorial coverage, you’ve hit a problem faced by many before you. The easy answer is:hire a PR.
A PR spends their career nurturing win/win relationships with journalists and it’s those relationships that you pay for. Bill Gates said: “If I was down to the last dollar of my marketing budget, I’d spend it on PR.”
It works – a story from one of my trusted PR’s is rarely in the 1400 – so I’d agree with Bill Gates.
By Lisa Baker, Editor, Business in the News