Kendra Smith, Proforma’s Manager of Public Relations, sat down with Counselor Magazine to provide her best tips to earn press coverage, build relationships and put your business in the spotlight through public relations.
Q: How do you effectively reach out to journalists?
A: We have the most success contacting journalists by email. Meeting in-person is also a great way to get to know journalists on a personal level, so we connect with them at industry shows.
Q: How do you identify what reporters and publications you should pitch?
A: By reading what reporters are writing about, we can pitch stories that are relevant to the theme of their publication. Then we identify the journalist who talks about topics most closely related to our story.
Q: What types of stories tend to win the most press?
A: Stories that have a human interest angle, feature unique projects, include high-profile clients or are about a major business deal like an acquisition. It isn’t always the biggest sale that attracts the most attention, but sometimes it’s those unique events that are interesting, helpful or relatable to the audience.
Q: How do you make everyday stories more interesting?
A: Local angles, tying your story to a current event or incorporating an emotional element are all very effective ways to gain coverage. When we pitch stories for our owners, we talk through a lot of different aspects of the story to try to find the right angle for the right publication. Sometimes it might take pitching the same story with several different angles before you find one that works.
Q: What are the keys to writing a good press release?
A: There are a lot of elements, but I think one of the most important things to remember is to always write with the publication’s target audience in mind. Reporters care about what their audience care about. Explain who, what, when, where and why upfront and why your announcement should matter to them.
Q: How has social media changed the way you communicate with the press?
A: If you follow reporters’ blogs, posts and tweets you can learn about what articles they’re working on and what stories they like to cover. Because of the nature of social media, you can also learn about reporters’ personal lives, which is helpful for relationship building.
Q: How do you track the coverage you receive?
A: Automated programs tend to be expensive. We use Google Alerts, which gives us an email notification when a new article is published online mentioning the desired keyword. We also gauge our coverage by scanning key industry publications each month.
Q: How do you respond to a media outlet when a story is incorrect or negative?
A: Because of the media relationships we’ve established, this doesn’t happen often. If we do have concerns about the coverage, we reach out to the reporter directly. We might ask: Could we have provided better information? Having an ongoing and open dialogue with the media contacts helps us ensure our company is accurately represented.
This interview was originally published in the March 2015 issue of Counselor Magazine.