becoming a news expert

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Here's some ways to turn press releases into press coverage

I was at a holiday party this past weekend and had a chance to talk with some reporters and PR folks.  I asked each person what was the biggest problem businesses faced when trying to pitch stories.  I was shocked that nearly all of the reporters and PR professionals agreed that finding a compelling story was the one thing businesses had the most trouble doing.

It is always amazing to me that businesses can’t seem to figure out the stories that make them interesting.  In that vain, here are five areas of your business where you can find that great story that can turn your press releases into press coverage.

HIGHLIGHT YOUR GOOD DEEDS

There’s one thing that most, if not all, news people bristle at is the perception that all they’re interested in is bad news.  It’s just not true.  News folks are interested in stories that are not “normal.”  Those stories can be good or bad, just not typical.  Here’s how this can work for you.  Do you as a company raise millions of dollars for a good cause?  Do you give away free products to the disadvantaged?  If you do, you need get a press release out, stat.  You see, you’re not “normal.”  There are many businesses out there who don’t do charity so finding one that does is newsworthy.  Reporters love positive news stories just as much as bad news stories, and the fact that your company is so charitable is news.  Let them know.

“SUPER” EMPLOYEES

Support and highlight your employees who are doing something super

What do your employees do when their not working for you?  If you don’t know, you should find out.   Too many Support and highlight your employees who are doing something super businesses don’t think about how their employees non-work actions can affect them, but it can.  Learn about your employees and support them when they do extraordinary stuff.  It would be a shame if you had employees that went to the mountains every weekend to help disable kids learn how to ski and you didn’t help them and tell the media about it.

OFFICE CULTURE

Why do people like working for you?  Yes, it might be that you give them 20% more money than anyone else, but more likely it has something to do with your office culture.  Do you allow dogs?  Do you have flexible hours?  Do you have a swimming pool in the main lobby?  If you do, I bet a news organization would love to do a story on it.

GENUINE INNOVATION

This area is where most businesses try to get news coverage but fail.  The reason is that their products are not interesting.  Look, I understand that to a company that makes rugs, using a brand new type of thread is interesting, but to the rest of us its not.  If you are using thread, however, that makes your rugs last for 200 years, or makes sure that nothing will ever stain them, or it makes your rugs fly…THAT is genuine innovation.  If your company is doing something that makes the average person on the street go “wow,” that’s a reason to let the press know.  By the way, that should exclude about 98% of the things businesses are currently writing press releases about now.

Are you an expert? Let reporters know.

EXPERTISE

Are you an expert in your field?  Do you have people on your staff who are experts?  I mean real “other folks come to you asking for help” expert, then you should notify the press.  Reporters are always looking to stack their Rolodex with experts they can call at a moments notice to help them with a subject.  Even better, tie your expertise in with something that is happening in the news.  You’d be surprised how often reporters are looking for experts.  Writing that press release will let those reporters know that you are the expert they should call.

To be sure, the hard and fast rule about sending out press releases is “less is more.”  But by examining these five areas of your business, you might just find a great story which will help you succeed in turning your press releases into genuine news coverage.

*(If you’re interested in hiring me you can go here for more information.)

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We’ve all been there.  The news is on and a story comes on related to our industry.  They bring on an “expert,” and as the interview proceeds you think to yourself, “I know as much about this topic as that guy.  How did he get to be an expert?”

Here’s a little secret.  Most experts don’t know any more than you.  They just understand how to get into a reporter’s Rolodex.  And when a story about their field pops up, guess who the reporter calls?

Truthfully, it’s not that hard to become the person news organizations go to when they need an “expert.”  By using social media, and a little inside info, you too can become an expert in your industry.

Here’s how you do it.

1.  BLOG ABOUT YOUR INDUSTRY

There are two things about the industry in which you work that automatically makes you “expert” material.  You had to have some level of interest in it, and you spend a vast amount of your week immersed in it.  You have opinions, experiences, and insights into your field that a vast majority of us don’t.  Take advantage of that knowledge, start a blog about your industry.  Most blog sites are free, (Hello WordPress) and it lets you put your ideas into print.

Write about any insights you have.  What problems in your industry need to be addressed.  What advice you can give to others.  By blogging about your experiences, your insights, and your suggestions about what could be improved in your field, you are illustrating your expertise.  Just make sure you keep it separate from any personal blogs you might have.

A tip:  A wise friend told me that you should be posting something to your blog at least once a week.  Heed her advice.

2.  ADVERTISE YOUR POSTS

You probably have a Twitter account, a LinkedIn account, and a Facebook account.  If you don’t you should get them. Use them to publicize your blogs.  Most blog sites have ways to automatically send stuff to multiple accounts.  By advertising your blog posts, your hitting different audiences, including reporters who are searching for information on stories about your field.

Make sure you use tags on your posts as well.  It will help your article get noticed (S.E.O. anyone)?  As you write and advertise your articles, your name is becoming associated with your industry and your credibility as an expert will increase.

3.  FOLLOW NEWS ORGANIZATIONS ON TWITTER

News organizations are very active with Twitter.    Use that to your advantage.  Follow your local news sources as well as national and international outlets.  Often, they will tweet about stories they’re following.  If a story deals with your industry reply to them.  Let them know you have expertise in that area and could help them if they need it.  They may use your information, but they will, most likely, start following you.  And those tweets you send later about those blog posts you write will be sent to those news outlets.

4.  KEEP UPDATED ON INDUSTRY NEWS

In order to be an expert in your industry, you have to keep current on all news related to your industry.  Use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to follow organizations relevant to your industry.  You can also use Google Alerts and RSS feeds.  This information will not only give you ideas for further blog posts but will give you insights into what items might be of interest to the press.  Very useful when you think about it.

5.  MEET REPORTERS

You want to meet reporters so that they can put a face to an expert they may use in a future story.  Meeting with reporter can be a bit tricky, however, so here are some guidelines.

  • No stalking.  Ever.  I mean it.  Don’t.
  • Don’t call them at home.  That’s part of the whole “stalking” thing.
  • Don’t call or email too much.  Less is more.  If they need you they will call.
  • Keep any correspondence short.  No reporter is going to read a long email.
  • Be polite and never be mad if they don’t call you back.

Here’s some things you can do.

  • Join the local press club, or at least attend press club events.  This is a great way to get to know reporters in a relaxed setting.  You can get them your card and show them you are an articulate person who would make a great expert.  No hard selling.  Reporters hate that.
  • Follow Twitter accounts of reporters that cover your industry.  They will need more industry information than general reporters and will give you a better idea of what reporters think is newsworthy about your industry.
  • Take the news room some donuts.  Even if you just drop it off at security with your business card, food will make them happy and help them remember you.

As you can see, becoming an “expert” in your field is really more about being proactive.  Social media really can help make the process a lot easier so take advantage of it.    Finally, be patient.  A reporter isn’t going to call you tomorrow. But if you keep up with and blog about your industry, advertise your blog articles with social media, follow news outlets on Twitter, you might just be the expert all the news outlets are looking for.

Hope this helps you out.

 

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