Journalists and B2B public relations professionals have two different needs regarding a media pitch: The journalist wants stories that resonate with an audience; the B2B PR professional wants a company's story told.
Yet, the two have a common need.
The B2B professional provides the journalist with the guts of a story, while the journalist is in a unique position to spread the B2B brand’s message to a wider audience. The key to a successful relationship (and media pitch) is to align your company's needs with that of the journalist.
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But not all stories make the cut for effective media pitches in B2B public relations. It helps to remember that major media journalists have two main priorities for going with a story. First, it must be interesting and relevant to capture their audience's attention. Second, it has to be different -- the more contrarian a story is, the more valuable it will be. If it doesn’t have these two qualities, it’s not worth the journalist's time.
Think for a minute of our raucous presidential campaign. The media couldn't seem to get its eye off Donald Trump's performance and statements and Hillary Clinton's policy statements got lost amid Donald Trump's bluster. For good or bad, what's controversial, hard-hitting and engaging gets a reporter's eye. It also attracts public interest.
Your local press (and in some cases trade press) will be less demanding in terms of a great story. It has to have some news value but it doesn't have to be dripping with controversy or flashing excitement. Read on to discover how to get the reporter interested in your storyand how to do effective media relations.
Granted, what constitutes an interesting story will differ from one journalist to another. Before you pitch an idea to the media, ensure that your company and story both fit the interests of the journalist and his or her target audience.
That means doing your research upfront. Familiarize yourself with previous articles that a journalist has written, and ask yourself how your idea fits into a reporter's style and scope. If it doesn’t, it’s time to go back to the drawing board, or find another journalist.
An effective media pitch starts with a solid idea or topic to whet a journalist's appetite. The following are ideas that if properly framed can catch a journalist's attention.
Recommended Reading: 7 B2B PR Tips on How to Boost Your Media Presence
What to Pitch in B2B Public Relations
What’s happening within your company that deserves to be in the news? If you have it, don’t miss your chance to use it.
- Solutions that relate to topics in the news. For example, a job recruiting company might tie a new product launch to the unemployment statistics.
- A growth trajectory requiring your company to hire more people. Your local media will want to know that you're hiring.
- Industry awards. Typically, awards interest local media. The New York Times won't care that you garnered a niche industry award. To get any other media interested, it needs to be a major award or recogntion.
- New brand-name client wins. If you can announce that a few major brands are using your product -- and the brands can talk about it -- that's a slamdunk. Often times, however, big brands don't want or need the publicity. However, local outlets will be interested in regional wins and trade media may be receptive to less high-powered names.
- Launch of a new product or service, especially if you can offer up a beta customer to be interviewed.
- New funding -- the larger the dollar value the better.
- A contrarian point of view. For example, HubSpot managed to develop an entire business promoting inbound marketing when most people were focused on outbound marketing.
- New research, especially if the results are counter-intuititve or controversial. For example, my company made a lot of hay out of a study that showed that a large percentage of people call in sick when they're not. We were able to segregate results among males and females, geographic region and company size.
- New major partnership. If you are announcing a partnership with a major brand to offer something new that can pack a punch.
- Case studies that demonstrate results. Major media will be interested in major brand results. If you can't name specific clients, trade media may be willing to write about specific industry results.
- Predictions. Can you accurately forecast certain industry trends? If these buck the tried and true and you have good proof points, this can be effective.
- Benchmark studies. Can you create quarterly or annual studies that survey your industry? Can you rope in a well-known partner for added traction.
- Provide data to the media. Data is like catnip to reporters. If you have a rich source of data from your clients or business that is frequently updated, why not offer some of it to a publication in return for recognition and branding?
When It’s Not Initially News
- If you don’t have something that screams, “News here!” there are other pitch-worthy ideas that can fuel the flames of a journalist’s creative interest. It may require some clever ingenuity on your part, but you can still pitch story ideas. Here are some thought starters:
- Existing product or service that you turn into something new. Can you relaunch a product or service so that it has a new sheen?
- Anniversary of founding date. Are you approaching a milestone year? If so, how can you change it from a ho hum celebration to something special? Can you involve some well-known clients? Political figures? Key influencers?
- Philanthropy that is more than donating proceeds. Can you offer your product or service to a major philanthropy in return for press?
- Contest that has legs. How about a contest that helps solve problems for an under-represented segment such as children with special needs or the homeless?
- Brand special reports. Can you issue special reports/white papers with unusual points of view?
- Free Use of Your Product or Service. Can you provide free use of your product or service to the media for a limited time assuming it is something of value that they would try. If so, offer them a special, time stamped media subscription.
- Create a manifesto. Let's say you have a product that improves new product development. Can you create a manifesto that asks people to stop doing things the old way and create an online movement among your target audience?
- News developments in your space. Let's say you're a security company. Why not provide commentary on new security breaches and serve as an expert source to the media?
Recommended Reading: How to Land Media Coverage For Your B2B
Shows Thought Leadership
Another strategy to creating an effective media pitch is through thought leadership. A well-written press release can show off your expertise and position you as an authority at the forefront of your industry. Remember that your pitch doesn’t always have to directly affect you -- you could offer your insights on events within your industry, such as:
- Changes to laws or regulations and how these impact your industry.
- A new and innovative solution to a common industry problem.
- Major news. Let's say you have a sales consultancy. Why not apply your skills to rating the politicians on their sales skills? If in doubt, remember: Often times there are back door ways to eventually get in the front door.
- Major industry disagreement. Let's say most people in your industry are supporting one way of doing things. You strongly disagree. Issue a press release and a blog post about your point of view and share it with relevant media.
Recommended Reading: 7 Steps to Become a Thought Leader In Your Industry
When Something Goes Wrong…
Let’s face it, mishaps are bound to happen. Whether it’s a bad review, a product recall, or a lawsuit, negative press may find its way to your doorstep. What you do with that negative press can make or break your B2B PR. As any B2B PR agency will tell you, never ignore it! Address it with a blog post or video that tells your side of the story and what you're doing to fix it. You may want to direct media to that in a brief note. Here are a few ideas that fit these circumstances:
- Office closures or layoffs
- Customer service problems
- Product flaws or recalls
- Marque and public customer defection
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There you have it. These ideas will help you get the word out about your company. A good PR agency will develop many more ideas for you so you can turn your work into stories that resonate with media, prospects and customers. If you're starting checking off the above steps, you will grab some PR juice for your company. Remember the the absolute best thing you can do is to think like a reporter. Remeber it's not just about your needs but that of the media.
Any questions about any of the steps? Please raise them in the comments section below.