Have you ever had to pay for a journalist for an article? You better not have.
PR is generally free. What I mean is that you shouldn’t be paying people to get earned media. It needs to be earned, not paid for. If the PR campaign is exciting enough newspapers, TV stations and other media outlets will pick up on the campaign and cover it.
Obviously there are the costs that go with producing a PR campaign, but it is nothing like advertising. Millions and billions of dollars are pumped in to companies talking about themselves. In PR, other people are talking about your company. Now that’s credibility.
I have the unique perspective of being a journalist while studying public relations. I see both sides. I am one of the editors for the school newspaper.
Once in awhile I will have someone come up to me and say we (a college department) want to work with the school newspaper and get a lot of articles in the paper this semester. I then ask them what they were thinking of doing, this is usually followed by a blank stare like I am supposed to have the ideas.
Don’t say you want to work with someone and come with ZERO ideas. Like I said it’s earned media, there has to be some work done.
As an editor I want current, timely and new material. I don’t want to write about a boring event that is going to happen. If you want the article or PR then you have to do the work and we the journalists will do the rest.
It is really interesting studying PR while working as an editor. I see the use of press releases, but if that subject line doesn’t stand out or if the email is constructed terribly I just delete it. Granted I do this and I don’t even get that many press releases. Imagine an editor who gets hundreds a day? He is definitely less patient.
Currently I am working on a PR campaign for Circle of Love, a local bridal and formal wear store in Rexburg, Idaho. We want to get an article in the paper about the owners and the event we are going to be having. However, this event isn’t going to anything that is really newsworthy or amazing.
On the flip side, if I give it an angle that an editor will like it could potentially become newsworthy and relevant. For example, the owners of Circle of Love own a lot of buildings downtown. Those buildings are over 100 years old and were once Hotels and other stores. My pitch could be something like this.
“Buildings that are over 100 years old in downtown Rexburg are not being used for their original purposes. Buildings that were once hotels are getting a face lift. The owners of Circle of Love are revamping them and turning them in 21st century building of business. There will be an open house on March 9th from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. to show off their store Circle of Love. There will be free food, raffles, grab bags for the first 25 people and lots of great deals on a bunch of items.”
Not the greatest pitch, but definitely more interesting than “Hey we are having a cool event can you cover it?”
You should have to work for your earned media, not buy it.
Remember that if your idea isn’t worth writing about that is not the editor’s fault, it’s yours.
Make sure that it is timely, newsworthy and exciting. Most of all remember that we shouldn’t be entitled. Earned media is not a hand out, hence the name earned in earned media.