You’ve taken the time to craft a press release, put together a media list, and...nothing. Silence. Been there? With unprecedented news rolling in everyday, reporters are busier than ever. So how do you set your release apart, and get press coverage?
In this episode of the Mind Meld vlog, we caught up with Tyler Orton, Business in Vancouver Tech Reporter to dig into this nebulous topic. As someone who receives hundreds of pitches everyday, he knows a thing or two about what catches a reporter’s attention.
Tyler has been with BIV for six years, is a contributor at The Global News Morning Show and the editor of Digital Health magazine.
So, let’s dive in and get Tyler’s tips for how to get press coverage.
Know the difference between breaking news and evergreen news
News has always moved fast, but things are now moving at warp speed in the face of a global crisis. With this in mind, it’s key to understand the difference between a breaking news story and evergreen content so you can shape your pitch in a way that will grab reporters’ attention, and get press coverage.
Evergreen news makes us step back and take a look at broader trends. They include stories that might contextualize the economic or corporate landscape. Breaking news includes things like announcements or launches—there’s a sense of urgency there.
Timeliness is key when it comes to pitching. An awareness of what is relevant in the media today will serve you well in writing attention-grabbing pitches. For instance, when the pandemic first hit, news was largely focused on businesses that were shutting their doors. Now, the narrative has shifted to a more forward-thinking approach with articles like The Business Trends That Will Emerge Out of Covid-19.
Put the most important details first to get press coverage
What I often see is burying the lede too far down the pitch. The context is up high and the news hook is further down—too far to grab my attention.
Push the hook right up to the top and offer context afterwards. This is how you capitalize on timelines.
Why is this worth covering right now? Why might this have potential for further stories down the line?
While there are generally accepted rules for press releases, nothing is set in stone. Do you have a strong quote you need to lead with? A big figure? Or even a question?
The most important information needs to be presented first, but there’s no hard and fast rule about what form that takes. Press releases from big companies often lack creativity -- don’t lose this.
Using embargoes to secure press coverage
Two weeks out is too long, reporters operate in the now. Ideally, I’d receive an embargo request three business days before launch to give me enough time to get the story ready.
Timing is just as important as the content when it comes to embargoes.
You’ve got an upcoming product launch and want to give reporters the inside scoop now to ensure coverage. You can prepare them by sending out a press release under embargo (aka. a release sent with a future publication date).
What do reporters actually care about?
Reporters are looking for the news factor when receiving a pitch. Companies need to consider how a reporter’s audience will benefit from reading this story, not how this coverage will elevate them. Here’s a few things to consider when crafting a news-worthy pitch:
Think of the subject line as your headline—what’s the one thing you want the reporter to know? Why should they care?
Provide a tangible benefit (hiring numbers, data, results, capital raised, etc.) and a clear story outcome
Demonstrate an awareness of the reporter’s beat—don’t pitch them something that’s outside of their wheelhouse
Boring is risky
Rather than regurgitating information or news that’s already out in the ether, find ways to go against the grain and offer the reporter something new—Tyler calls this the novelty factor.
Tyler favours companies that tell him something new, can be relied upon for connections, recommendations and are on top of their communications.
Drop the jargon. How to get press coverage with simple language
The business sector uses a lot of jargon and they don’t often speak the way we would in everyday life. Within that you have the tech sector that uses even more bizarre jargon.
Think about translating that tech and business speak into the way people actually talk. I often have to paraphrase to cut through the jargon that’s meaningless for anyone who works outside of these industries.
You’re passionate about your story and want to outline every technical detail—but when it comes to PR, less is more. Highlight the features that set you apart, and focus on the benefits rather than the nitty gritty.
Need help distilling and crafting a story that will land you press coverage? Get in touch with a Vancouver PR agency.