LAMA writer Pete Wise has worked as a journalist, digital marketer and PR rep. In this article, he draws on these experiences to bring you a short list of actionable tips on how to do your own digital PR.
Find journalists looking for sources via #journorequest
Earlier this year, LAMA wrote an article on how the UK and US differ from an entrepreneur’s perspective.
We wanted to include an interview with a business founder, so we posted a callout on Twitter to see if we could find someone suitable. We added the hashtag ‘#journorequest’, which is widely used by journalists who need expert sources to provide commentary for their articles.
We soon heard back from a trans-Atlantic entrepreneur called Heather Delaney, who had previously launched a startup in California, and now runs a PR and marketing agency in London. Delaney’s experience was so relevant to the topic that the article ended up being all about her.
Still looking for interviews for our Inspiring Small Businesses series, if you are a small business owner or entrepreneur who took their idea to the next level to build your own business then we want to hear from you! #journorequest #blogrequest
— Squirrels&Bears (@SquirrelsBears) August 20, 2019
All sorts of journalists (mostly in the UK, US and other English-speaking countries) use #journorequest to find sources, including reporters from Forbes, The Guardian, Inc, The Telegraph and the BBC. Their journo requests could lead to coverage on major print, online or broadcast media.
Anyone with an internet connection and relevant life experience can access these opportunities. All you need to do is:
- Go to Twitter and search #journorequest;
- Click on the latest tab and read through the requests;
- Identify journo requests that are relevant to you; then
- Respond to a request by sending a clear, detailed email or DM to the journalist.
The journalist may get in touch with you to request an interview; they might simply copy-and-paste what you’ve written into their article; or they may well turn your offer down. No PR has a perfect #journorequest success rate – so don’t be too disappointed whenever you don’t hear back.
On the occasions when you do get a positive response, you’ll have a good chance of securing some publicity – potentially from a high-profile media outlet.
If you’d like to broaden your search for journalists seeking commentary for their content, Facebook groups could be a fruitful place to start. For instance, LAMA sometimes uses the group Lightbulb – Entrepreneur & Press Hangout to find interviewees for its videos and articles.
Basic measurement techniques for PR email campaigns
Email press release distribution and email outreach are day-to-day essentials for most brands that do their own PR. If you need some pointers on how these processes work, we refer you to the excellent content linked in the previous sentence.
One aspect of PR email campaigns that some PR DIYers pay too little attention is measurement. Tracking email PR success metrics like open rate, unsubscribe rate and how long it takes recipients to open an email can help you better understand how people are reacting to your emails. This, in turn, will help you understand how to make your PR emails better, and how to proceed with individual recipients on a case-by-case basis.
Our advice is to do your PR email campaigns via a platform with tracking features – something like MailChimp or Boomerang for Gmail. These are both affordable, user-friendly tools that will give you access to basic measurement techniques.
If you’re new to email campaign tracking, we suggest you get started by trying out a couple of basic measurement techniques, such as:
- Check your open rate. What percentage of recipients opened an email? If the percentage is low, you may need to try a different approach to writing your subject line the next time around. You may also find that your open rate can vary based on the time and day.
- Click-through rate. This is the percentage of people who clicked a link in your email, out of all the people who opened it. Getting recipients to click-through is usually a key objective of PR email marketing, so a high click-through rate would usually be considered a good thing. Try comparing the click-through rates for multiple emails. Which got the higher click-through rate, and why would that be the case?
- Unsubscribe rate. If an email yields a particularly high unsubscribe rate, take that as a sign that something about it is badly wrong, whether that be the topic, the content, or your email strategy more broadly (e.g. wrong recipients, emails too frequent).
Good PR professionals continually monitor the results of their work, and they use their findings to keep doing a better job the next time around. If you can find some simple ways to do the same, you’ll set yourself up to achieve consistently better outcomes over time.
Make life easy for journalists with clear communication and media resources
In PR, getting journalists’ attention is only part of the battle. The next stage is to do all you can to ensure the contacts you make convert into media coverage as often as possible.
Most journalists will want to get what they need from interviewees as efficiently as they can, whether that be quotes, product information, or images and video to form part of the content they are working on. From the interviewee’s perspective, this means making life easier for journalists can improve the conversion rate from media engagement into publicity.
A key step towards doing this is to create a press kit – meaning a collection of documents, images and other media you can send to journalists and/or make available for download via your website.
Things to include in a press kit:
- Text document or PDF telling the story of you and your business;
- Professional-quality image assets including a headshot and key brand/product photos;
- Videos that can be easily added to a digital publication via an HTML embed code or similar.
These elements – whether they be words, images or something else – should meet a similar standard to the content published by the media you are aiming to get coverage from.
Press kits can be used actively (i.e. distribution to journalists via email or file sharing applications), or passively (i.e. posted as downloadable content on a webpage).
Another way to make life easier for journalists is to be copy-and-pasteable. This means your communications with them will be polished enough to be pasted into an article, or used in some other way, with little or no editing. Time-pressured journalists will sometimes appreciate the chance to get the info and quotes they need via email conversation alone.
Press kit examples:
These brands clearly have plenty of budget to put together lots of high-quality press materials. Think of their press kits as the ‘gold standard’ to aspire towards. If your brand has scarcer resources, just try to produce a few core press materials.
Nail your interview technique
Getting media coverage often involves being interviewed, whether that means a quick phone call or a lengthy face-to-face chat. The better you perform in the interview, the likelier you will be to secure media coverage, and the better that coverage will be.
Before diving into a media interview, we suggest you take the following preparatory steps:
- Have a rough idea of what you’ll say. That doesn’t mean writing a script; it means sketching out some key points that represent your brand’s core message.
- Prep some interesting facts and anecdotes to include in your responses, where appropriate.
- Think about what you can tell the journalist about you and the business that hasn’t already been covered in other content.
- Be ready to listen out for moments when the journalist wants to change the subject. Your responses should be detailed, but not rambling or digressive.
We go into greater detail about these points in our guide on how to give better responses in a media interview.
Add a layer of PR optimisation to your content marketing
There are countless ways for journalists to find out about you and your business online. They might find your website in a Google search for a certain type of business; they might see a friend share your content on LinkedIn; they might read about you in an article by another journalist; and so on.
In some cases, journalists will discover or research your business by checking out your own content marketing – your blog articles, videos, podcast episodes, etc. This scenario is ideal, because it gives you the power to show who you are and what you have to offer, in your own words.
With your PR hat on, think about what your content would communicate to a journalist.
- Does it tell them about your expertise?
- Does it demonstrate your ability as an interviewee?
- Does it put across your personality?
If the answer to all three of these questions is “yes”, you can consider your content optimised to send the right message to journalists. If not, you should think about how the next content you create could be tweaked in order to meet these criteria.
For some of you, content marketing might be an unfamiliar area, or something you only do occasionally. If that sounds like you, why not upload some smartphone-filmed video content to LinkedIn? LAMA App can get you started with production-to-publishing video app, which helps shape your content with interview questions designed by professional journalists.