PR Campaign - A Detailed Guide To Doing Your Own Successful Public Relations


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This e-book shows you, step by step, how to do your own Public Relations campaign including tips on getting great publicity within the first 7 days.
It is written with small businesses and entrepreneurs in mind who cannot yet afford the services of a PR agency.
Public Relations can play a key role in boosting sales and marketing and this e-book shows how

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PR Campaign - A Detailed Guide To Doing Your Own Successful Public Relations

  1. 1. 3 Steps To A Successful Public Relations Campaign How Small Businesses Can Use PR To Dramatically Boost Their Profits Justin J Pugsley Of JJPAssociatesCopyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley
  2. 2. CONTENTSWhy You Absolutely Must Do Public Relations Page 1The returns in terms of sales can be huge for what can be a very small investmentor even no investment at all. A marketing campaign is incomplete without a PRcomponent to it.3 Steps To Creating A Successful Public Relations CampaignHow you plan, structure and create a successful PR campaign and how to writenews releases and target your communications with maximum effectivenessSTEP 1: Your Contacts - Who Should You Be Talking To? Page 7How to find relevant media outlets and then research which reporters and bloggersyou should be targetingSTEP 2: Generating Ideas – Whats Your Story? Page 18Sure fire ways of coming up with ideas that will get you mentioned in the media.STEP 3: Getting Your Story Out There – How To Get Noticed Page 27How to craft the news release, why you need to think beyond the media and get thevery best out of your communications and how to pitch journalists your ideas.Copyright © 2012 by Justin J PugsleyAll or any part of this publication can be copied and distributed on condition that the author, JustinPugsley or JJPAssociates, is given full credit for any material used.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley
  3. 3. Why You Absolutely Must Do Public RelationsBecause You’re Worth ItHow would you like to reach 10,000, a 100,000 or even 1 million potential customerswithin the next 28 days at little cost or even for free?Once upon a time that would have been extremely hard to do, but now it is easierthan ever before.It all comes down to the Internet. You can now reach more people, more quickly,more effectively and more cheaply than at any time in history. And in the world ofbusiness thats got to be the most exciting and transformational event in the last twodecades.For a small business this is potentially a god send and in many cases it turns thetables on the big established players and gives smaller more nimble firms an edgeat a comparatively low cost. In the process the Internet is transforming media andpublic relations – the subject of this report – in ways, which can be hugely beneficialto small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.This report will show you how you can get great publicity at very little cost andgenerate a level of exposure, which would cost you small fortune if done viaadvertising.Good PR is increasingly suited to the new mood among consumers who arebecoming increasingly cynical and jaded towards advertising. People wanttrustworthy information to inform their purchasing decisions, not just a sales pitch,and this is where PR, if done honestly and in a targeted way, can have a profoundimpact on your business.Its fascinating to note how Richard Branson has built a multi-billion pound empire,partly through great public relations and lets face it, its something he excels at.His various stunts, such as flying across the Atlantic in a hot air balloon, have madehim a household name in Britain along with his Virgin brand. He is expert atgrabbing the medias attention and capturing the publics imagination. It is said thathe spends a considerable amount of his time on devising stunts and in engagingwith the media.And why does he do it? Simply, because it saves him a fortune in marketing andadvertising. It also allows him to connect with people, current and potential Virgincustomers, in a way advertising wouldnt.In essence, PR has helped mould an image of Virgin as a young, cool, dynamic andcreative brand, something people want to be part of.Admittedly, Richard Branson is a big name tycoon promoting a mass market brandand can now quite easily generate publicity. However, even if youre a completeunknown that should not put you off from having a go, after all there was a timeCopyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 1
  4. 4. when no one had ever heard of Richard Branson. Also, you dont have to do daredevil stunts to catch the medias attention.And anyway, its quite possible to build a rapidly growing successful businesswithout ever appearing on the 10 oclock news on BBC 1. Besides, youll probablywant to be reaching more targeted niche audiences who are potentially a lot moreinterested in your products and services.Reaching very large numbers of potential customers in under week, even in theInternet age, is still a challenge and will require plenty of preparation and hard workto pull off.But done properly and with focus it will reap huge rewards for you.However, good public relations is far more than just a 28-day campaign – it shouldform an integral part of your day-to-day business and be part of your marketingplan. But 28 days is a good time scale for getting results from your PR campaign.What Is PR?Before delving into using public relations to help build your sales lets first identifywhat it is and how it differs from marketing.PR or public relations is about building your companys image, enhancing itsreputation and generating positive feelings towards it, a buzz in other words.Its also about safeguarding and enhancing your company’s image and reputationand influencing perceptions and views of it. Its about building your credibility.It’s basically about getting other people to say nice things about you.Marketing on the other hand is all about product promotion, pricing, positioning,targeting markets, getting the right calls to action across in brochures and websites.It’s anticipating and satisfying customers’ needs.I guess that’s you saying nice things about yourself.These are very simplistic explanations, but they should at least give you some ideaof the differences between the two disciplines. But as youve probably alreadyguessed, the two disciplines converge in places and in terms of doing it incyberspace it can sometimes be very difficult to distinguish one from the other.But ideally, you want both to be happening side by side.And as for the second question: “How can it benefit my businesses?”Well, imagine you have lots of people out there saying great things about yourcompanyand its products. And that you develop a solid reputation for being very good at whatyou do, for being reliable, an expert and trustworthy, as someone who delivers great 2Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley
  5. 5. products and services, such a reputation is priceless and is a strong competitiveedge in its own right.In essence, done properly, PR builds your credibility and peoples trust in you andyour company. Building credibility is often half the battle in getting people to buyyour products or services and its also a quality that marketing isnt best suited forbuilding up. People have become apathetic or worse outrightly cynical towards salesand marketing pitches.Research some years ago by travel marketing consultancy, Y Partnership (now partof MMGY Global), found that 76% of consumers dont believe that companies tellthe truth in their advertisements. Another consultancy, Yankelovich, found that 76%of people dont believe adverts either.But if you have credibility with your market, you will find it a lot easier to sell into itand that in itself will make your marketing much more effective. Indeed, dependingwhat line of business youre in, it is conceivable that you could build your wholebusiness on nothing but good public relations.Besides, why should your competitors get all the glory and the best coverage?Especially if their product or service isnt as good as yours. But even if that isnt thecase, theres still no reason why you shouldnt be using PR to boost your marketingand your profile. In many cases it may even generate new business and interestfrom quarters that your marketing efforts don’t reach.Looking To Raise capital? Attract JV Partners?Or maybe, at some point youre looking to raise capital from business angels,venture capitalists or even float on the stock market. Believe me those guys will do alot of due diligence on you before investing. It will help your case and credibility ifyouve been written about in a positive way and have raised your media profilebefore hand. Having a public profile could even increase the value of your businessand its brand.The same goes if you want to set-up a joint venture or form some other type ofrelationship with a big corporate or even a government department. A track recordof great publicity could work wonders for you.This report is primarily aimed at entrepreneurs and small businesses, but theprinciples could equally apply to non-governmental organisations, associations,clubs and charities. Basically, this report is for anyone on a tight budget and isdesigned to help you get publicity for a tiny outlay.It should also be of interest to marketing directors who want to explore new anglesfor growing their business and for supporting their marketing campaigns, but whomaybe cant afford or dont yet want to employ PR staff or a PR agency.Although, my object is show you how PR or public relations works and moreimportantly how to do it yourself successfully on a tight budget, it is not designed toreplace public relations agencies. Though it will help you better understand whatCopyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 3
  6. 6. they do and possibly to select one if that’s the route you eventually want to take.Having done some PR yourself youll be in a better position to know what to expectfrom an agency and what they should deliver for you.But if you cant afford the services of a PR agency then this is a great place to startand theres enough information here to show you how to successfully get yourstories in print and to get the word out on the Internet.And it will require effort. After all, part of what good PR agencies are selling is thefact that they have relationships with key opinion influencers, whether they bejournalists or bloggers, and have the expertise to place stories with the relevantmedia. And as youll see good relationships are key to getting your story out thereand that does take time to build.As an industry PR has been growing rapidly for many years. According to theInternational Communications Consultancy Organisation in 2010 US consultanciessaw fees increase by an average of 11% and 13% in the UK, the world’s two largestPR markets. Though that came after a 5% decline in fee income during the dogdays of 2009.Why PR Is Becoming Increasingly DominantBut the fact that PR has been growing for decades shows that it is valued by agrowing number of organisations and is becoming increasingly important. ThoughPR is standard practice by most large organisations, be they public or private,theres absolutely no reason why small businesses cant do it as well – even oneman bands!And thanks to the Internet I would argue that an awareness of it is now moreimportant than ever. Consider for example that anyone can go on a review websiteread by thousands of people -- some of them your customers and potentialcustomers -- and write something good or bad about you. Those comments can staythere for years and turn up every time someone does a web search on you, yourcompany or your products.When you think of the impact publicity can have on an organisation it is no wonderthat PR as an industry has been growing so much. Even politicians and governmentdepartments have armies of PRs working over-time to safeguard their reputationsand to make sure they influence what the media says about them. The vast majorityof big companies also deploy PR professionals often under the banner of corporatecommunications or media relations (fancy terms for PR).In over 20 years in the media business I have noticed how prominent PR hasbecome. PR professionals have become the gatekeepers between seniormanagement and journalists.Though we will mainly be looking at how to use PR to support and leverage yourmarketing it is worth noting that as a discipline it has also grown enormously inscope and sophistication as well. 4Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley
  7. 7. PR now seems to permeate every industry and a large part of the public sector asimage and perception have taken on so much importance in an age increasinglydominated by spin, impact driven reporting and instant news.About MeIve always found public relations fascinating in that it can have such a profoundimpact on how a person or a company is perceived and is therefore regarded. Thatin turn plays such a decisive role over whether a politician gets elected or a newproduct succeeds or not in the market place.I come from this subject from the point of view of a hack or journalist -- I’m on thereceiving end of PR all day long via press releases, emails and phone calls. I alsointeract heavily with PR people, whether it’s me chasing up stories or them trying toget me to write about one of their clients or include their views in a story I’m puttingtogether. And it is often the other way around as well.Ive seen examples of great PR as well as some dreadful efforts.And yes I’ve also acted as a PR consultant and helped my clients successfully placestories in various publications or develop a PR strategy. Coming from a journalistbackground and having worked in different types of media helps enormously as Ihave a very good idea what my colleagues in the industry are looking for.I first started out in journalism with the venerable French real-time news wire serviceAgence France Presse in the late 80s after spending several years doing variousmind numbing jobs in accounts and administration and even did antique restorationfor a while.Though I mainly collected data on commodity and financial markets at AFP, I did getthe opportunity to write market reports and small news stories. It’s where I learnedmy trade, along with a course at the London School of Journalism. I also attendedevening lectures with the London School of Economics, which helped a lot inlearning about different theories on the economy and how it effects our lives.Dow Jones, Wall Street Journal & BSkyBBy the early nineties I ended up with the Dow Jones news agency, which owns thefamous Dow Jones Industrial Average stock market index and The Wall StreetJournal where I wrote a column about Eurobonds and also frequently had storiespublished on corporate events, bond and money markets.I was personal finance editor for a while for Skytext, part of British SkyBroadcasting, where I would explain various financial products and put up brokersshare tips.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 5
  8. 8. By the mid-nineties I ended up at a commodities publication called Public Ledger,which I still regard as one of the most enjoyable jobs I ever had. I had the privilegeof working with some great people where we turned around a nearly bankrupt 200+year-old publication into profit maker.By the time I became editor I worked with marketing to more than doublesubscriptions, after which I was ready for new challenges and went freelance for 10years. While freelancing I wrote for a great number of business and tradepublications and also did some PR work with Norwegian telecoms group Telenor onbehalf of PR agency Burson-Marsteller and I advised the Common Fund forCommodities and got them published in the FT among other specialist publications.Other gigs included working with mining finance brokers, David WilliamsonAssociates, on their move into raising finance for technology companies. Apart fromhelping write research reports I also distributed them to the press and helped someof DWA’s clients with their PR.For a few years I acted as the press officer for the London Ship Repair &Conversion exhibition, which was held in London.Then I went to work for Thomson-Reuters covering mergers & acquisitions followedby European banking regulation. Putting this report together is very much down tomy own personal experiences and observations.Im also very grateful for the feedback from a number of PR professionals Ivespoken with over the years who have generously shared with me some very usefulinsights into their profession and how they place stories with the media.And another very useful source of inspiration was the Public Relations Professionalsand the Public Relations and Communications Professionals forums on LinkedIn.I hope these insights will prove useful in helping you successfully get your messageacross to the media and boost your profile, your company and your sales.If you do need help, putting together a PR strategy or campaign or need someone towrite material such as news releases, then I am available to work as a PR advisorand I promise you that this is my one and only pitch in this report.My email address is: website: linkedIn profile can be found at: me on Twitter: please drop me a line about your experiences and successes as Id love to findout how you get along. OK enough about me..... lets get started with your PRcampaign. 6Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley
  9. 9. STEP 1: Your Contacts – Who Should You Be Talking To?To quote an 18th century US president, Benjamin Franklin, by failing to prepare youare preparing to fail. This stage lays the foundations of your whole campaign andwill be decisive as to whether it achieves anything.So this is the planning bit. You need to have a clear idea of your destination.Preparation is crucial for getting the best results and to avoid wasting your time andeffort.What exactly are you trying to achieve? Are you targeting a particular market nicheor a completely new market? Are you trying to build your credibility so you can infact enter a new market? Or form a joint venture with another organisation? Ormaybe, youre thinking of raising capital at some point in the future and want todevelop a public track record? Do you just want to support your ongoing marketing?The answers will give you important clues as to where you want to be written aboutand which media outlets will generate the most impact for you.There are a lot of web-based services that specialise in sending out press releasesto journalists listed on their databases, but I still dont think you can beat having yourown bespoke, completely up to date list. And of course those web-based news orpress release distributors do charge for their services and Ill discuss their useslater.You need to create a list of media outlets to target and why and rate them accordingto priority. If youve never done PR before I suggest that once you actually start yourcampaign go for the less relevant media outlets first to practice and to refine yourapproach.Your list will probably include a number of magazines and newsletters, possiblyones key to your industry or most importantly read and respected by your targetaudience. But also dont overlook prominent bloggers, pure online media outlets andforums.One thing I will say at this stage, dont be tempted to pursue publicity just for vanityreasons, just to get quoted in a famous newspaper or to go on TV. It could end upbeing a time wasting diversion.Be TargetedSo be very clear about the media outlets youre targeting and why. It may notnecessarily be about getting mentioned in the largest circulation publication,especially if 95% of the readership is not relevant to you. That could amount towasted effort, unless of course that 5% of readers really could be decisive for yourbusiness.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 7
  10. 10. In your database, you must also locate the relevant reporters. For example, if one ofyour targets is the big daily newspapers, you absolutely need to find the rightreporter. If your target is the defence industry, for example, it would be pointlesssending communications to the entertainment correspondent. You need to find thedefence correspondent or the person nearest to that. Some phone enquiries toreception or the editorial department might be needed to establish exactly who youneed to deal with.You would be surprised how many PR professionals dont do this piece of vitalresearch. Throughout my career Ive been on the receiving off all kinds of irrelevantnews releases.For example, when I was a senior reporter at ThomsonReuters covering Europeanbanking regulation I would receive lots of news releases relating to flower shows,the tourism industry or something on fuel poverty – wasted communications thatwere so irrelevant to what I was covering that they could actually be termed as littlemore than spam.Just blasting every journalist you can find with emails will not get your story covered.Here are some resources to help you put together your A list of journalists who work for well known titles is available here:(, you will have to trawl through all the names to find out who does whatand what they write about by clicking through to them. If youre lucky theysometimes, have the journalists contact details as well.The site is run by a charity called the Media Standards Trust and isdesigned to enable the public to find out more about journalists and what they writeabout.It even has an alerts service for you to track certain journalists and what theyrewriting about.On the other hand, a newsletter with a small number of very specific subscribersmay actually be far more beneficial if they happen to be focussed just on thecustomer group you want to target. In my experience most industries and even theirsub-sectors are supported by some publication, sometimes it could be just one.It is also generally easier to place your story in such niche publications especially ifyour message is very relevant to their audience.Most publications carry advertising and as such they should have some informationon their circulation and audiences, usually on their websites. Check under headingssuch advertising, circulation or media pack. Otherwise a phone call to theadvertising department should get you that information. 8Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley
  11. 11. If that information is not available then scanning the headlines and stories on thewebsite should give you some idea whether or not it is relevant.All that can greatly help you in deciding whether a particular publication is relevantor not.Here are five websites to get you started:MediaukThis is a very useful and comprehensive online media directory listing magazines,newspapers, television and radio broadcasters.You can search by alphabetical order or by the name of the owner (publishingcompany).The good thing with this site is that once you click through to a publication of interest– it does give you the website address and a general telephone number.You can also type in a search under the industry topic of interest, but it wont alwayscapture all the media outlets youre looking for.TradepubA very good website for this is called tradepub ( It is actually anonline subscription service provider targeting business to business or b2bpublications.There are various business classifications and then it displays the covers of thepublications in question. Clicking on the picture of a particular publication will takeyou through to a short description and a subscription tab.If it still looks relevant, then carry out a web search until you find the publicationsactual website address, from which you can collect editorial contact details.There are of course a lot of websites, which list publications from around the world.However, many tend to be US centric, but they can still be useful.Magazine GroupAnother online subscription website worth checking: ( gives a more detailed description of each publication, but to find contact detailsyou will need to a web search. 9Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley
  12. 12. Internet Public LibraryA well known one is the Internet Public Library ( Look under theheading newspapers & magazines.TVA Media GroupIf youre targeting the US, then this site is worth checking out. TVA Media Group is amedia promotion company, but you can search under:( This produces a lists ofdifferent types of media outlet.Once youve compiled a list of media outlets of interest, you then need to do a websearch to find their websites.The NewswiresOne area of the media you shouldnt overlook are the news wire services. They maynot cover your line of business, but if they do, then you should definitely prioritisedeveloping contacts within these organisations – why? Because so manynewspapers, magazines and online content providers tap into and recycle theirnews stories.If youre quoted in a newswire story, then that quote will potentially be seen by a farwider audience than just the readership of that particular news wire service. Plus alot of their stories get indexed in Google news, which is a good bonus.Typically, news wire services are global media organisations with bureaus aroundthe world and the big ones literally employ hundreds of journalists.Newswire Stories RecycledThey are very much driven by being the first to break a story and usually do,because they are real time services. Then what happens is that the other mediaorganisations, such as newspapers and television and radio stations then pick upthe story.Usually, theyll do their own coverage of the event, but often they simply republishthe news wire story. Their reporters regularly contact the people quoted in thenewswire story as they rush to publish their own take on events. That could be you.These days the big money spinner for newswire services are financial markets,where instant news is critical for traders wanting to get in ahead of their competitionand having that sort of information first can be worth many millions of pounds inprofits.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 10
  13. 13. Bloomberg is heavily geared to doing this. Other leading newswire services includeThomsonReuters, which is now a media conglomerate spanning many areas frommarkets through to scientific and legal publications. Theres Dow Jones, whichhappens to own the Wall Street Journal. WSJ in Europe, in particular, hastraditionally relied heavily on Dow Jones for content.Reuters, Bloomberg and Dow Jones are all very much geared to real time news forbusiness, finance and especially markets and typically their client base is financialinstitutions and big multinational companies.Reuters also covers general news and is very strong in political coverage. Otherplayers that have a heavy focus on general news include Press Association, whichis heavily UK-focussed and also has a dedicated service providing features andother content to publications in areas such as entertainment, fashion, living andhomes.Press Association is a US-based and well regarded global news wire service.Another is United Press International, also US-based, but with a global focus.Agence France Presse, which is Paris-based, is also a global news wire service witha large number of subscribers.Many of these groups publish stories in many languages, but all have Englishlanguage services.Though getting quoted in stories produced by these organisations can give yougreat coverage, the downside is that they tend to see quite high staff turnover androtation as journalists frequently move to new beats.Many countries have their own news wire services and Wikipedia has a list of manyof them:( out who writes what is a case of trawling through their stories under thecategories relevant to you and looking for the bylines (the names of the person orpeople who wrote the story).Sometimes this can be done by a search on their websites or going through Googlenews or web searches. Otherwise call the switchboard and ask for the editorialdepartment and then make enquiries into who covers your area of interest, whichmight be just as effective and possibly quicker.As stated earlier you also want to include so called new media outlets, such asbloggers or Internet only publications. These can be a bit harder to find and toobtain information on in terms of numbers of subscribers (many are anyway freeand live off advertising) and targeted demographics.Many of these sites come under the banner of social media especially Twitter and toan extent blogs and LinkedIn. New concepts seem to come along regularly in thisspace.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 11
  14. 14. In case youre not familiar with the term social media, heres a good definition fromWikipedia: The term Social Media refers to the use of web-based and mobiletechnologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue.AlltopThis is basically a news driven search engine, which picks up the latest headlinesfrom blogs and other websites (often magazines and newspapers) and you cansearch under specific topics: ( website describes itself as a real time search engine for user-generated mediaby tags or keywords, basically for blogs.But it does have a blogs directory: ( creates a list of the top most influential 100 blogs on a daily basis:( tags you can search for blogs under specific terms:( a large collection of blogs: ( CollectionA list of blogs categorised by activity and country of origin: ( DirectoryThis contains lists of bloggers, columnists and Internet broadcasters. But alsocovers traditional media such as magazines and newspapers:( Directory ProjectThis directory has been around almost since the beginning of the Internet and isupdated by volunteers. For media: ( © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 12
  15. 15. Its a real mixture of news resources as well as listing online media sites, blogs andso on.Another area of social media you shouldnt ignore is Twitter. It is heavily used byjournalists, bloggers and other media types.To use Wikipedias definition of Twitter it is: an online social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to140 characters, informally known as "tweets".Those tweets also allow you to use abbreviated URLs, which is useful. Twitter isnot only a useful place to find journalists, but you should also use it as part of youroverall media campaign and more on that later.Here are some Twitter directories:WefollowIt has all kinds of categories to chose from. But in the search bar you can type injournalists and it will give a list of those who tweet. From there you can track downwho they write for by visiting their websites and getting their contact details:( functions to the one above: ( tweet itThis is a social media directory of twitter users: ( directory site to find journalists and bloggers who are also Twitter users:( site has an enormous number of entries: (!/journalisttweet or and there aremany others.Another way of finding relevant media outlets is to simply do an Internet search. Ifyoure targeting construction engineering companies, for example, you can type in 13Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley
  16. 16. terms such as construction engineering publications civil engineering publicationsinfrastructure engineering publications and you switch publications with newsarticles interviews or whatever combination of terms is most relevant to you.For example, the first search term on Google construction engineering publicationsturned up the New Civil Engineer, the American Society of Civil Engineers (if yourlooking beyond the UK), which apparently publishes its own magazine called CivilEngineering and ASCE News.Also, theres Engineering News Record published by McGrawHill in the US. Thentheres the Journal of Civil Engineering and Management, which looks quiteacademic and is only published four times a year and so on.I then typed construction engineering and dropping publications into Google Newsto see who is currently generating news on this topic. Obviously a number of wellknown names turned up such as the Financial Times and the Guardian newspaper,but also ConstructionWeekOnline, which might be very relevant.The Importance Of Getting The Right Editorial ContactsOn that list you want to note the contact details of the editorial staff by going throughto the websites of these publications. Sometimes theres break down of which topicsthe journalists cover. Its really important to be as precise as possible on this one,because sending your carefully crafted news releases to the wrong journalistpractically guarantees that youll be ignored (and dont always count on themforwarding it to the relevant colleague, journalists are busy people as well).From your Google News search you may want to note the names of journalists ofthe more famous publications. But to be sure they werent covering for a colleaguethat day, you may want to do a Google web search as well as a news searchentering the Journalists name + the publication and see what theyve been writingabout on a regular basis.You can also enter publication name + construction engineering and search underGoogle News and Google Web.Google also has a special search tab for Blogs and Groups (like forums). Though Idalso be inclined to do the same search on Google Web under for exampleconstruction engineering blog etc...One group of journalists that are often overlooked by PR professionals arefreelancers.But let me tell you why they shouldnt be overlooked:On several occasions I have been invited on press trips, whether it be tours offactories or meet and greets with management, as a freelance journalist along withstaffers as well.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 14
  17. 17. Often that has resulted in only one article for one publication as with the staffjournalists. But not always.Now for me as a freelancer I will want to get the most out of the trip, after all time ismoney, and spin off several stories that I can then sell to a number of publications –making sure each one gets something unique and insuring there are no conflicts ofinterest. I dont want to alienate any editors.On several occasions I have ended up writing from different angles the same eventfor four to five different publications. For me the trip was time well spent and for thepublic relations people they got a good return on their investment so to speak.I suspect freelancers get overlooked because, unlike staff journalists who areaffiliated with a particular outlet, it is difficult to know who exactly they write for andwhat they specifically write about.Also, it is sometimes difficult to establish what their relationship is with variouspublications – are they almost like a member of staff or did they just write a one-offpiece for a particular publication?But the media industry relies heavily on freelancers, whether it be to cover forabsent staff, to tap into expertise they dont have in house or to contribute to specialsupplements. Many freelancers enjoy long-term relationships with publications aswell – maybe they even used to work there or the editor is a personal friend.Freelancers will typically write for many different media outlets and given they oftenrely on selling story ideas to editors, they could well be useful in helping you getexposure. Also, theyre often on the look out for ideas for stories they can then sellin the form of articles to the various publications they have a relationship with.So where to find freelancers?Theres the Google search method described earlier, worth doing, but the resultscould be quite random.LinkedInI would advise you use LinkedIn, a website designed to enable people to networkprofessionally. Its a bit like Facebook for professionals. If youre not signed up, Iwould suggest you do so, its a useful tool for developing business or for promotingyour career, if youre an employee.Recruiters increasingly use the site to advertise jobs and to head hunt people.You can start with the basic free account. That allows you to see the first 100 resultsfree. It also allows you to build up a network with people you know – suppliers,clients, colleagues etc... already on LinkedIn.However, if you want to communicate directly with other members, not in yournetwork, you need to pay a subscription fee. They offer month only subscriptions as 15Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley
  18. 18. well as annual ones. So getting access and building up your database neednt bethat expensive.But sometimes they have personal websites listed on their page and I wouldsuggest clicking through to them and usually they will have their contact details.That may be enough for you not to have to pay a subscription fee.There are also many useful forums, some you will need permission from the forumowner to join. There are many covering public relations and marketing where youcan interact with people who have an interest in those matters. But if you do getinvolved be sure to respect their terms of can try Then go to the tab that says Freelance whichwill show another set of options and click on Find a Freelancer Or alternatively justsearch on the web under find a freelancer.That will produce a list of journalists describing what they do – broadcast, features,news etc... and the areas they cover, such as politics, economics etc...The National Union of Journalists freelance directory at,where you can send emails to those listed there and is a good place to look as well.With the Internet being such a fluid place, means that websites come and go andestablished websites do change their layout and terms and conditions. So I wouldalso do web searches along the lines of Journalist Directory List of Journalists.And do various word search combinations with reporters, editors, editorial etc...But also many of the blog and twitter directories mentioned earlier will list freelancejournalists as well.GorkanaThen there are various websites that make a living connecting PR professionals withjournalists and the best known one in the UK is Gorkana.For a fee you can join as a public relations professional, which gives you access toa database of journalists – not just freelancers, but staffers as well – they will updateyou on the latest career moves by journalists, keep tabs on bloggers and they dobreakfast briefings to allow PR professionals to meet journalists.To their credit Gorkana do make a lot of effort to keep their databases up to dateand do a pretty good job of it.But other services that are very useful include the forward features list that theycompile from well over a 1000 publications.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 16
  19. 19. And lastly they publish media requests whereby journalists – and Ive been one ofthem on many occasions – put out a notice saying theyre writing an article about aparticular subject for a certain publication and invite relevant PR professionals toapproach them with contacts.If the request is relevant then that contact could be you. But more about mediarequests and features lists later. The latter could be particularly useful for you.DWPubAnother outfit that does a similar job is DWPub and they But again you have to pay for access and the variousservices.Whether or not you decide you use these paid for services really depends on:A/ Your budget and how much time you want to spend building up your database –if you want to do it for free then use the techniques outlined earlier in this chapter,but it takes time. What services like Gorkana do is to reduce the legwork for you andmake it easier for you to connect with journalists.B/ Whether you are looking to target a large number of media outlets. If for you itreally just boils down to a very few specific media outlets – maybe very specialisedtrade publications and bloggers – then I wouldnt bother with these paid for services.But if you are looking to reach a large number of media outlets then they areactually very useful.This may seem like quite dull and time consuming exercise, which it is, but it reallywill form the foundation of your successful PR campaign. So you want to give thispart of thecampaign just as much time and attention as the more exciting aspects, such asstrategy, writing your news releases and preparing your pitch.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 17
  20. 20. STEP 2: Generating Ideas – Whats Your Story?This bit is a lot more interesting. Its what youre going to talk or write about or evenpodcast or videocast about.Basically, you need some ideas that will grab the attention of editors, journalists andbloggers and ultimately of course their audiences, some of whom could becomeclients of yours.So the big question then is how to come up with those attention grabbing ideas?But before doing that, it is important that you understand the task ahead and thescale of competition between stories all vying to see the light of day.Most journalists and especially those who work for well known titles are bombardedwith a torrent of press releases, reports and other communications on a daily basis,mostly by e-mail.The same goes for well known bloggers with established followings.Therefore grabbing their attention – especially if youre an unknown entity – is goingto be challenging.However, the situation isnt hopeless, all kinds of unknown people and smallbusinesses get great coverage every day, but breaking in will take research andperseverance.The Media Needs PR & Your (Relevant) StoriesIt is also worth keeping in mind that probably the majority of media organisationsnow rely heavily on the work public relations professionals to generate content.Staff levels have often been cut and reporters are expected to churn out more copy,which leaves less time for them to research stories and this is all the more so in theage of instant media, which is driven by 24 hour news channels and Internet mediasuch as Twitter.Therefore if you can establish yourself as a reliable and credible source forcomment, then you stand a good chance of getting mentioned in articles and beingcontacted by journalists fairly frequently.But you must absolutely ensure that what youre saying is pertinent to thepublication in question and that you are dealing with the relevant journalist, becauseif youre not everything else is a complete waste of time – your story will simply notget covered. 18Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley
  21. 21. So targeting your communications, not just the message, but who receives it, isvitally important. Now your database, if it has been done properly, should at leastprovide you with the who and the where part of the process.Though news releases and other types of media communications are veryimportant, I dont think anything quite beats the personal touch.If youve got something interesting and relevant to say to a reporter I stronglysuggest you call them, rather than just sending an email. It is much more direct,personal and potentially a lot more effective.And after that conversation follow up quickly with an email re-stating what you saidor promised to follow up on if extra information was requested or confirming aninterview time and so on.But do keep in mind that as youre not paying for coverage, the media has noobligation to cover your story, to quote you (even if theyve interviewed you for halfan hour on the phone) or write their story in a way that suits your interests.Essentially, the job of the editor and the other editorial staff is to produce contentthat readers want to read and it is from that perspective that theyll judge whetherwhat youve got to say is interesting or relevant and therefore worth their time.Also, most respectable media outlets will try and write their news stories to beunbiased and neutral and usually that applies to bigger articles with longer shelflives such as features. However, more opinionated pieces generally come in theform of editorials and columns written by the editorial staff and sometimes guestwriters.So salesy stuff like “were the best” is unlikely to get you much mileage. So alwaysthink about it from the point of view of what would interest the readership of thispublication, which also happens to be relevant to your market.Ideas for stories:1. Its NewsMedia outlets are most concerned with the news, the big story of the moment,because thats what usually sells. Look at their front page stories and some of theother big stories – is there something ongoing that is likely to get covered in the nextissue like a financial or political crisis?This is where you can get in touch and give your opinion or even your personalexperience of the event.But even better if it is a piece of breaking news – such as a shock rise in interestrates by the central bank. You can very quickly put together a news release sayinghow that will effect you as a small business and your peers.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 19
  22. 22. Or it could be related to something a celebrity has said or done. If youre a divorcelawyer and some celebrity is in the news for an infidelity you can talk about howsolid areprenuptial agreements, the way assets are likely to be split or if there are anyunusual circumstances that might effect the outcome of a court case.And quickly email that out to relevant journalists and state that you are on-hand togive interviews if necessary. Its a tactic increasingly used by PR professionals toget media exposure for their clients, but plenty still dont do it.Your communication, doesnt necessarily have to be dressed up as a news release,but should contain some canned quotes. For example: “Todays drop in retailsales....(what ever you want to say),” says (Your Name, Your Position, Yourcompanys name, and where youre based) and put your contact details at thebottom of your communication.As journalists will be hard pressed for time trying to meet a tight deadline, especiallyif theyre a newswire service, a news broadcaster or a daily newspaper or even ablog – then these sort of instant reactions to a big news event can be extremelyhelpful and because of their immediacy stand a good chance of getting quoted.I know because Ive been there and always appreciated quick reaction comments toan event I was having to cover in real time.I would place this as one of the best ways of getting mentioned in the press,especially if you can develop an insightful, original or genuinely interestinginterpretation or twist on a big news story.Youre basically saving a journalist a lot of time phoning around their contacts whomay or may not be available to give an opinion there and then and within thedeadline.Now heres the thing. In many cases you can be prepared for big news items astheyre scheduled.Think of the Bank of Englands regular meetings to set interest rates, monthlypublications of government statistics, important reports or white papers that have abig impact on an industry and where it is known in advance when theyre going to bereleased, a scheduled meeting or speech by a dignitary, the publishing of an opinionby an important body and so on.What big news items are scheduled for your industry? That would impact yourclients? Who publishes them and when? What impact are they likely to have?Can you find these organisations, look at their schedules of upcoming events ontheir websites and get on their mailing lists?Even lower frequency publications, such as monthlies, will be interested in the newsand will usually try and develop a behind the headlines analysis. But many now dailyupdate their websites and email daily newsletters to their subscribers, so they toshould be included in these instant reaction communications.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 20
  23. 23. 2. Tomorrows NewsMaybe youre in a position to have an unusual insight into an upcomingdevelopment, because of who you know, your client base or supply chain and cantherefore predict fairly accurately the next big news story.Now one thing all journalists and editors love is a scoop, in other words to be thefirst to break the news or to see an event coming before others do.3. TrendsAn awful lot of what journalists and bloggers write about is trends, for many mediaoutlets its their bread and butter. A trend is basically something that keeps re-occurring, such as more and more people dressing in a certain way, taking holidaysat home or the stock market going up or down and so on.So be aware of the trends relevant to your customer base and come up with newangles as to the impact a given trend may have. Even better if you can identify acompletely new trend that has not been reported on yet and you can supply somestrong evidence to back up your point. Ditto if you can show convincingly that anongoing trend is about to change.4. A Series Of ArticlesYou notice a reporter is doing a series of articles on a topic that is relevant to you.Ring them up, say youre really interested in the series and tell them you think it istopical or is valuable and that youve been following it (if several articles havealready been published).Then put forward your angle or take on the subject and arrange for an interview timeif its not convenient for the reporter to do it on the spot.5. An Article You Agree Or Disagree WithA publication or a blogger has put out something that has caught your eye. You mayagree or disagree with the thrust of the article. Its an opportunity to get in touch andmaybe put a new twist on it.If you disagree with the thrust of the article, then be polite about it. Beingconfrontational will not only potentially destroy a useful relationship for you, but maywell undermine the chance of your view being aired.Calmly state why you think its inaccurate in unemotive language and make sure youcan convincingly back your argument with facts. The journalist may well run anotherCopyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 21
  24. 24. article expounding your opinion to counter-balance the last one. I have done that onoccasion myself.On one of those occasions I had written an article looking at the potential directionof a particular commodity market for which there was a very strong industryconsensusAfter publication I was contacted by someone with an opposite opinion and hadsome interesting data and facts to back up their views. I simply wrote another articlebased around what this person had said.Yet another take on this is to simply write a letter (email) to the editor commentingon the article. Sometimes they are published if you write something interesting.6. The Features ListPublications that take advertising often devise features lists or lists of upcomingspecial supplements with the view to creating something relevant to a particulargroup of advertisers. Of course those special issues need content and articles haveto be written.If there is something you can comment on, then get in touch preferably a fewmonths before it runs stating what angle or ideas you can contribute.7. Youve Won An AwardThis can be worthy of a news release if a well known body has named yourcompany the best or given you the top accolade for the year.If a publication has awarded it, I suggested you dont send a news release aboutthat to rival publications, they generally wont be interested.Also, think of entering your company for awards if you think you have a realisticchance of winning anything. If its a publication the winners are generally written upand its great publicity.8. Youve Just Developed A New ProductBefore getting carried away, is this really newsworthy or can you make it so? If it is apiece of software that does something unique or never done before for instancethen it might be.If its genuinely revolutionary or game changing in some way I would write somenews releases and maybe phone up and directly pitch a few reporters.Couch your argument in facts and figures. And crucially, try and give a humanangle, people are interested in people.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 22
  25. 25. And it it is a technology product, go easy on the technical language and acronyms. Ifit is an industry reporter theyll probably understand, but if its not they may not andtherefore could miss whats so great about your product.This can apply to opening a new branch somewhere, hiring someone with a highprofile, forming a new joint venture, buying or being bought by someone else. Itcould even involve a new application for your product.9. Do A SurveyIf you can gather a large number of opinions about something topical – think aboutissues that are preoccupying society right now or your customer base – and comeup with an interesting angle or one that firmly disproves a commonly held beliefetc... then it could get written up by a publication.Often if companies arent known theyll work with a well-known polling organisationsuch as Ipsos MORI or Populus as the results of the poll are more likely to be seenas credible and relevant. The news release then says something along the lines ofresearch by Your company / Ipsos shows that 69% of executives believe..... But ofcourse setting that up costs money.Another way could be to work with one of your suppliers, customers or businesspartners, if theyre well known or maybe even your industry association.Polling people doesn’t just involve going out and stopping people in the street togather their opinions. It could be an email circular or phone calls to a group ofpeople youre in some way connected with.If your website has heavy traffic then you could simply set up a poll on your frontpage – if you offer some kind of reward for participating in your poll then all thebetter.Social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter can be good places to collect opinions.It is important that you are transparent and honest about how you collected thoseopinions, the number of genuine responses and from whom they came.Regular surveys on a particular area, especially if no one else is doing it, couldbecome recognised and quite valuable.10. Do A Research ReportVery much related to the above – compile a research report, which gives analysisand forecasts that would be of interest to your client base. This tactic has beensuccessfully used by many companies to gain acceptance, credibility and to raisetheir profile.Its even better if youre covering an area where there is little in the way of existinginformation or understanding. Thats often the case with a newly emerging industry. 23Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley
  26. 26. Like with surveys it really helps if you can hitch up with someone credible.Also, you could use university business or economics graduates, for free or a verylow fee, to help you put this together on the basis that it is work experience for them.Clearly anything they can put on their CV when looking for a job will help. Inexchange, credit them as one of the authors or researchers on your report that theycan then hand to potential employers.If they have an economics or business background they should be able to help youput together a methodology and produce the analysis and forecasts. This couldeven be done in conjunction with your surveys or following several of them,especially if youve identified a trend.If you put out a report several times a year, hopefully it can become a fixture andsomething recognised as valuable by the media and of course your current andpotential client base.In a similar vein you could do a white paper, a term much beloved of technologycompanies and policy makers.But it is important to emphasise that this information you put out is about clarifying asituation and coming up with solutions and is genuinely useful to reporters lookingfor a story and of course to your customers, because hopefully theyll be readingyour report as well.It must not be all about you and your products and services. If its seen assomething self serving, a glorified sales brochure, it will get nowhere with anyone.11. Youve Bought AdvertisingNow this is a bit cheeky and occasionally it works. Say youve decided to buy anadvert or a series of ads in a magazine or newspaper. Before agreeing to sign-up,you can request that the editorial department interview you for a story on the basisthat you will be quoted in it or even write a story about you, such as a profile, if youreally feel you can push your luck.Smaller publications may well agree to that – it very much depends on whethertheyre advertising driven or editorially driven. An example of the latter would be theEconomist for instance where that tactic is highly unlikely to work.And in many other publications, especially in the more famous and prestigious onesthat wont work either because they have a strict separation between commercialand editorial to conserve editorial integrity of the publication so as not to be in anyway perceived to be aligned with any particular commercial or political interest.A lot of publications are aware that they trade heavily on their editorial integrity andwill therefore safeguard it with their life.Another more watered down tactic would be to say to the advertising person youredealing with: “Look Ive got this interesting story idea, its very topical and relevant,”Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 24
  27. 27. and explain to them what it is and then simply ask the sales guy who you shouldspeak to in the editorial department.You can even ask if the ads person knowns them personally, if yes get some adviceon how to approach them.12. Getting Involved In Your CommunitySponsorship, community support, free advice sessions, photo opportunities,celebrity visits, creating an award and so on – all worthy of news releases, pressinvitations and might be of particular interest to the local press or radio station.13. ConferencesWhat about turning your conference speech into a news release and distributing it torelevant industry publications? And dont forget to send it to bloggers as well.Also, you could consider loading your presentation on slideshare( benefit of doing that is that it will get picked up by search engines andjournalists seeking background for a story and might stumble across it and quotefrom it.14. Forming A CommitteeMaybe there is an issue that is important to your industry. If you have the ability topersuade others to join you, you could form a special committee to tackle the issueand that is definitely worth a news release.15. An AnniversaryMaybe youve been in business a very long time or your company has reached animportant milestone in terms of sales or a particular product development. A newsrelease containing some interesting analysis or observations could get covered.16. Seasonal EventsSpring, Summer, Christmas, New Year, Breast cancer day, Remembrance day andso on. Is there any seasonal event that is relevant in some way to your business?Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 25
  28. 28. 17. Opinion PiecesSome publications will allow you to submit a well reasoned and argued opinionpiece, but of course that is very much up to the discretion of the editor. You wouldneed to persuade them that you are communicating something of value to thereadership and that it isnt all about you promoting yourself.18. Other Peoples CampaignsThink of really famous ones such as government campaigns to stamp out smoking,reduce drink driving, eat five a day (encouraging people to eat more fruit & veg)etc...Is there an ongoing campaign or one about to start from the government, your tradeassociation or some other relevant body that you could piggy back on?As long as you can find a relevant connection for your market and a targetpublication and you can come up with an interesting or useful comment, then youcould be on to something.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 26
  29. 29. STEP 3: Getting Your Story Out There – How To Get NoticedYouve got the database of contacts and hopefully youre now bubbling over with allkinds of story ideas to pitch to the media.Youre nearly there. You now need some support infrastructure before going livewith the media. You need a section of your website to be dedicated to the press.Build A Media Friendly Section On your websiteIf you really want to tell journalists and bloggers that youre media friendly and wantto be approached – then set up a media section on your website, even if youre areally small business. If that is the case I would just call it Media or News. Butoften with large companies that section is called Press Office, Public Relations orCorporate Communications, Media Relations etc... But usually larger companiesalso have in-house PR people whose job it is to deal with journalists.If youre not in that position then I think just calling it News is probably best, as itsounds less pretentious, especially if you really are a tiny outfit.Besides news releases, where the latest should be at the top of the page, you alsoshould have a fact sheet about your business. It should say exactly what it does, itsindustry & target market(s), product range, where its based, who founded it andwhen, who runs it, some history about why it was founded etc... or something aboutthe founders as well, which makes it more personalised.Write your fact sheet in a neutral tone, so try and leave out terms like “were thebest” “unbeatable prices” “Were proud....”, were delighted to...” and other marketinghype. Leave that for the sales & marketing section.Great For Search Engine RankingsBut heres an interesting fact about the news section. Often when doing a websearch on a company that is sometimes the part of the website that gets the highestrankings in the search engines. Why? Because it is often the part of the website thatis relatively content rich and is updated more regularly than other parts of thewebsite – two factors loved by search engines.So done properly, your news room is effectively a great marketing tool as well and Isuspect in the end most of the visitors to it wont be media types, but possibly yourown customers, potential customers and other people you do business with for thesimple reason its a great way of finding out about the latest happenings in your firm.As part of increasing their visibility on the web and boosting their rankings in searchengines, some companies deliberately send out a steady stream of news releases. 27Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley
  30. 30. Search engine rankings merely refer to where your website shows up when asearch term or search phrase is typed in. The idea is to be within the first threepages of that search.Your news site is also a great place to host any white papers, reports or surveysthat you have put together. The same applies to relevant podcasts or videos.A podcast could feature you talking with someone else in the industry or themarketing director interviewing the CEO about the industry environment, as long asit is informative and interesting to other people in the industry. So as not to make itsound too amateurish, listen to some of the podcasts on the BBC or and tryand mimic their style.It is fairly formal and the interviews or debates have a natural flow. Obviously somepreparation helps.Get VisualOr It could just be a useful how to video that helps your customers solve some oftheir problems.If youre a software company targeting consumers – how about a video with someuseful tips on safely optimising your PCs performance? If youre a firm of decorators– what about a video talking about colour schemes or a few clever tricks on gettinga certain impact, especially if it ties in with the latest fashion. If youre a gardencentre – a series of seasonal videos about protecting your plants from frost aswinter approaches or getting the garden ready for spring when that is on the way.Or you could do a video about a day in the life of your firm and just walk around andtalk to staff as theyre doing their job, it could be particularly interesting if youre acompany that makes things or does something creative. The videos and podcastsshouldnt really be more than 5 minutes. Theyre more likely to be watched until theend.However, theres nothing stopping you putting up a video or podcast of a conferencespeech youve done – but probably best to clear that with the conference organisersfirst.Those videos can be loaded onto youtube and can be accompanied by newsreleases.I think it is also a good idea to have some pictures of yourself and other keymembers of staff, of your products and premises as websites and magazines oftenmake use of pictures as part of their content. Make sure you own the copyright onthose pictures so they can be freely distributed and republished elsewhere.You could almost view your news site as a bit like running a publication and it isprobably best treated from that point of view rather than for pure marketing – eventhough it partly serves that purpose. It is really about supplying useful information,which helps your customers and builds your credibility with the media as an expert.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 28
  31. 31. And crucially provide some contact details and mention that youre open to talkingwith journalists and bloggers.It amazes me that there are websites out there with fairly comprehensive newsrooms, sometimes big companies, with no contact details for the person assigned tohandle PR.Also, have a facility to enable people to sign up for news releases so you can buildup a news distribution list. Again, dont ask for too many details or make itcomplicated, because people wont bother to sign-up. And get RSS (really simplesyndication) set up if you can.You could just keep it to Name & Email address or just the latter. (Often the emailaddress is a good clue as to what the company does). If its, thenyou know its IBM and if its a name youve never heard of then type the bit of theemail address after the @ putting www at the beginning in the address bar of yourweb browser, so as to get as in our above example. You can thencheck the website, unless its public email service like Gmail or Hotmail.And now comes the more dynamic and most exciting part, actually getting yourname in print.The PitchAs I said earlier, if you have a good topical story, a new or interesting angle onsomething happening, then get on the phone – it is likely to be more effective thansending an email or a news release.And remember by their very nature, journalists are always on the lookout for a goodstory. Some of the best stories Ive stumbled across have often come from peoplewho simply got in touch.A phone call with a well thought out pitch really stands out against the 100+ emailsand news releases a journalist receives everyday and many go unansweredbecause they lack importance or are irrelevant or simply get forgotten in the rush towrite up stories or to hit deadlines.Another point worth keeping in mind is when to make that pitch. If it is very timesensitive and a big story then by all means go ahead and make the call. However, ifits a weekly or monthly publication find out when it goes to press.You can usually deduce that by finding out on which day a publication comes out.Press day is usually the day before. So if a magazine comes out on a Friday, thenpress day will usually be on Thursday. Monthly magazines are sometimes slightlymore flexible. If you cant figure out when press day is, then simply call up and findout.Larger news rooms often have an editorial assistant or a secretary whose job it is tofield such enquiries, otherwise call one of the reporters.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 29
  32. 32. From having worked in many different publications press day is usually highlypressured, unpleasant and people are in a bad mood as there is a mad rush to getall the content written, subbed and edited by the publishing deadline – believe methis is probably one of the worst times to call a newsroom and pitch an idea.If its a daily newspaper or newswire I would suggest calling in the morning, but it alldepends on how busy the reporters are on the day. Newswire reporters, besidescovering breaking news, usually have a set number of stories that they write atcertain times of the day. So for example, someone who covers the stock marketmight be expected to write an opening (or pre-open) market report, a midday oneand a closing report. So its good to be sensitive to their schedule.If theres a really big story breaking – a ministerial resignation, a declaration of war,a major crisis of some sort etc... – you probably wont get a great reception unlessyou have something interesting or unique to say about that crisis.Under such circumstances journalists covering other areas are often dragged in tohelp out, a case of all hands on deck and as such other stories that would normallybe considered important suddenly become much lower priority.But back to the pitch. When making your call make sure it is crafted to suit thatparticular publication and possibly the journalist in question – maybe you madesome effort to familiarise yourself with their writing beforehand?And in your pitch clarify your interest in the story and how you are connected with it.Lets say its about a proposed piece of legislation. Describe how it could effect yourindustry and how you know this because you operate in it.After the telephone conversation you should have a fairly good idea if your idea is arunner or not. If it is make sure you quickly follow up with any extra informationrequested.But remember – what ever is said, it is not a guarantee that you will be quoted inany story or written about, even if youve spent a lot of time on the phone orcompiling useful background information.What sometimes happens is that a story evolves, the angle changes as newinformation comes to light and what you discussed with a journalist yesterday is nolonger relevant today. Maybe the rumour or the speculation has now become fact ordismissed out of hand by some new revelation.There have been many occasions when Ive had to rewrite a story from scratchbecause of some breaking news and had to completely rethink the angle andunfortunately that meant a lot of the quotes I was using were no longer relevant.Or the editor decides to edit out your quotes, usually to shrink the size of the story tomake it fit on the page or because the quotes dont seen that relevant.Its happened to me as a journalist and Ive done it to other journalists stories whenIve been editor, its just the nature of the business Im afraid.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 30
  33. 33. Some Notes About Bloggers:One of the key differences between bloggers and a newspaper or magazine is thatthey are usually the personal opinions of the author or authors and in many casesare done as a hobby. Though, some blogs have evolved to the point where they areactually businesses supported by advertising and affiliated marketing.In a sense a blog is more akin to a personal opinion column, which you typically findin newspapers. You therefore want to get fully acquainted with that bloggers likesand dislikes before approaching them.If they deal with subjects in an even handed way then that is good. But if you noticethat a blogger has a tendency to be verbally nasty towards something he or shedislikes, then you might want to reconsider approaching them.Also, most are only contactable by email or by posting responses on their blog,whereas with journalists, you can usually phone them as well.Now the point about it being a personal opinion column is important, because if youmess up in your approach it could backfire and see that event as becoming thesubject of a blog post, whereas cocking up your pitch to a publication will more thanlikely just see you being ignored.Otherwise, you could get involved in the conversation on the blog by posting yourown thoughts and opinions.Bloggers tend to be more casual than journalists, who are subject to far moreconstraints in what they can write and how they write it (style guides, not allowed toexpress personal opinions in an article etc...). As such take a more laid backapproach when dealing with bloggers.And of course you should become a blogger yourself. Its really easy to set one up,just go to Word Press (www., they can host it for you for freeand later on you can if you wish host it on your own website.Its very easy to use and you can be ready to blog within five minutes of starting theset-up. I would suggest practising on it for a few weeks before developing yourreadership, such as listing it on your website and before listing it in various blogdirectories.There are other free blog hosting sites available such as from Google.Oh and heres another thing – journalists frequently read blogs and sometimes evenquote from them, which I have done myself on occasion. You also engage withjournalists on their blogs, many have them now.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 31
  34. 34. The Interview (And Dealing With Misquotes)Lets deal with what must be one of the worst dreads of anyone who is interviewed:Being misquoted and it happens a lot.Mostly, this happens as a genuine error and is not done maliciously.So how to minimise this occurring to you? Partly this lies in the overall preparationfor the interview and I will weave in some suggestions to answer the abovequestion.Firstly, make sure youre well prepared for the interview, consider the questions thatyou might be asked and think about how youd answer them, think about theinteresting angles, do you have a unique point to make? Do you have the data andfacts at hand to back your arguments?Look at it from the point of view of what makes a good story:It should answer six questions: Who? What? Where? Why? When? and How? Itswhat the famous poet Rudyard Kipling called his “six honest serving men” and theyform the basis of good journalism.Good preparation also minimises the chance for awkwardness during the interview.For a journalist its irritating to be greeted with answers to questions along the linesof “I dont know”, “Im not sure”, “I think its this, but dont quote me on that” etc...Obviously if you dont know, you dont know so dont make it up (you may want tomake it clear at the beginning of the interview where your field of expertise lies). Butthose kind of answers do suggest that the person being interviewed doesn’t reallyknow the subject that well and it does devalue them as a contact and as someone toquote.But back to dealing with misquotes. Secondly, dont speak at a 100MPH i.e.incredibly fast. That is a recipe for ensuring that much of what you say will bewasted and definitely massively increases the chances of either being misquoted ornot being quoted at all, because the journalist simply couldnt keep up while takingnotes, some do use recorders, but most dont. Having dealt with this situation myselfon many occasions I have simply not quoted the person, because I prefer not to riskmisquoting them and end up with all kinds of problems afterwards.Keep It Simple SlowSo instead speak more slowly, give the guy on the other end of the phone a chanceto actually write down what youre saying.Thirdly keep it simple and I appreciate that can be difficult to do, especially if youretalking about something quite complicated.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 32
  35. 35. Think about analogies or some simple way of illustrating your point. A lot will alsodepend on the technical proficiency of the journalist youre talking with. If its anexperiencedreporter from a trade publication you may go into much more detail and feelconfident youd be better understood than if youre talking to maybe a general newsjournalist who has never covered your topic of interest before, but is having to do sobecause its suddenly the story of the moment.If you want you can even follow up with an email along the lines of: “it was nicetalking with you earlier and here are some quotes from our conversation, which youmight find useful for your article.”And if after all that you are misquoted anyway? Then ask yourself is it really thatserious? If not then Id be inclined to let it go. However, if you did say something thatyou regretted and was quoted on, then Im afraid that is your fault and your optionsfor redress are extremely limited and it may come down to goodwill only for you toget your quote changed.Its extremely annoying after having published a story to be then challenged by theperson you interviewed over quotes that he or she definitely made. Under thoseconditions an editor will almost certainly not issue a correction and if they have anybackbone will stand firmly behind the reporter who wrote the story.The problem here is that editors hate issuing corrections and journalists can get intotrouble with the editor and potentially the editor with the publisher as well. So issuinga public correction is a source of embarrassment to the editorial department as itimplies sloppiness and a lack of care over facts and details.But if it is a genuine misquote and is serious and puts you in a very bad light thenphone the journalist who wrote the story explaining clearly your grievance and followthat up with an email. Again, keep it polite and as unemotive as possible as after allyou do want to build up a good relationship with that publication and you willprobably want to talk with them again in the future. And at this point you do needtheir cooperation to rectify the problem, even if they caused it.Alternatives to issuing a correction, could involve simply re-running the story withthe correct quote or issuing a clarification or in extremely rare cases running anotherstory or running it again without your quote.If youre not getting any joy with the reporter who wrote the piece then escalate it tothe editor. Beyond that youre getting into legal territory and it becomesconfrontational and expensive and will ruin, probably for years to come, anypotential relationship with that publication.Parachute JournalismA classic recent case of misunderstanding and misinformation is that of rare earths,which have rocketed in price, because China, which supplies over 95% of the 33Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley
  36. 36. worlds needs is cutting back exports. This is causing a real headache forengineering and technology companies in the West and Japan.Though the market for these obscure elements is tiny they are critical to all kinds oftechnologies ranging from missile guidance systems, hybrid electric vehiclesthrough to smart phones. And compared with most commodities rare earth elementsare complex and traded in opaque markets.Suddenly, you have journalists who have no familiarity with topic having to quicklywrite stories about it. So you can see the potential for misquotes, misunderstandingsand incorrect stories.You get this with war zones to. A war breakouts in some far flung part of the planet,the worlds media descend upon it, hence the term parachute journalism, to coverthe event, but know little about the background of the war, the history, the playersand the cultures involved.Ultimately, I would suggest you start every interview by saying something along thelines of “if there is anything Im saying that you dont understand feel free tointerrupt and ask at any time during the interview” and also “feel free to come backto me if you want any clarifications on anything including quotes.”To avoid the chance of being misquoted, it is common practice for big law firms,consultancies, banks and multinationals to only grant interviews on the basis thatthey will be allowed to check their quotes before publication.Not every publication, especially the most prestigious, will accept those terms, butmost do as it potentially saves both sides from possible embarrassment. As a smallbusiness theres no harm in you politely requesting a quote check, just to make surethere are no misunderstandings. Often it will be granted.What most journalists will not do is send a draft of the entire article before hand soyou can influence its tone or direction as that would undermine editorial integrity.Another point when giving an interview is to be careful with saying “this is forbackground only” or “this is off the record” or “dont quote me on that.” Many PRprofessionals will tell you if you dont want to be quoted on something then simplydont say it in the first place.I agree with that up to a point. I would only do that if you trust the reporter youretalking to.Public Affairs professionals, PR people who work with politicians and policy makersand often called lobbyists, frequently talk to the press and it is usually onbackground only. They often have some interesting insight or other to pass on, theobjective for them is not so much to be quoted, but to influence the tone of thearticle so it favours the interests theyre promoting.Trade publications are more likely to respect off the record requests. Thats partlybecause of the need to get on with people in the industry they cover and alsobecause trade publications are usually less competitive than the big dailies.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 34
  37. 37. Theres less guarantee of cooperation from say a hot shot journalist at a big dailynewspaper, desperate to make a name for themselves. They could well use your offthe record quote anyway, especially if it makes their story really good. Politiciansknow this all too well! So use your judgement, especially if youre talking aboutsomething commercially or legally sensitive.Many years ago, I heard of a currency analyst with a major city bank who wasnearly sacked because he said something to a reporter from a well knownnewspaper naming one of the banks clients in a transaction – all on background ofcourse. The reporter printed the name of the client anyway (a big insurancecompany I vaguely remember).After the story was out, the bank had to grovel to their furious client and the analystreceived a severe reprimand from his bosses. I heard later on that the reporter gotpromoted and she clearly was quite unscrupulous about burning her sources if ithelped her career! Fortunately, her type are more the exception than the norm.From experience off the record comments are often by far the most interesting.The Golden QuoteOne thing Reuters journalists are taught to look for, and I have been on the trainingcourse, is the golden quote.” In PR parlance that means a sound bite.This is basically a quote that is interesting, catchy, original, novel or somehow justsums it all up. The Business secretary, Vince Cable, is a master at that having usedterms such as casino banking to describe the activities of investment banking –whether or not he coined it I dont know, but it sounds catchy and is easy tounderstand and is closely associated with the points he has been making aboutwhat he sees as the failings of the financial system.Indeed, politicians or their speech writers or PR experts, are very good at coming upwith memorable and catchy quotes, designed to define them or their policies.Some examples: Ronald Reagan on terrorists: “you can run, but you cant hide,”Margaret Thatcher: “The lady is not for turning.” Tony Blair: “The party of foxhunting, Pinochet and hereditary peers: the uneatable, the unspeakable and theunelectable (he was of course referring to the Tories).” And unintentionally amusingand contradictory: “A day like today is not a day for sound bites, really. But I feel thehand of history upon our shoulders. I really do (a reference to the successfulNorthern Ireland talks in bringing peace with the IRA)”And then maybe the greatest of them all is Winston Churchill who coined so manyclever and catchy phrases that entire books have been dedicated to citing them.Here are some memorable quotes from the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2007from people in the business world.”Capitalism without financial failure is not capitalism at all, but a kind of socialism forthe rich,” - James Grant, Grants Interest Rate ObserverCopyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 35
  38. 38. “When the music stops in terms of liquidity, things will get complicated. But as longas the music is playing, youve got to get up and dance. Were still dancing,” - ChuckPrince, Citigroup"America is more communist than China is right now. You can see that this iswelfare of the rich, it is socialism for the rich," Jim Rogers, trader.“You only learn who has been swimming naked when the tide goes out - and whatwe are witnessing at some of our largest financial institutions is an ugly sight,"Warren Buffett, legendary investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.In fact the last two, Warren Buffett and Jim Rogers are two very media savvypeople, besides being very successful investors. Both are extremely adept atcoming up with memorable quotes, with a splatter of dramatic language orinteresting analogies, that get repeated across the media over and over again.Now obviously famous politicians or business people dont have much difficultygetting interviewed or quoted, but the golden quote helps get their point across.For someone who is unknown to the public or the media the golden quote has thedouble objective of not just getting a point across, but of being quoted in the firstplace and hopefully near the top of the article. And the very best companyspokespeople are aware of that, so before your interview think of some goldenquotes and also think of the golden quote when you write your news release.Relationship BuildingJournalists are people and journalism is very much a people business. So yoursuccess in getting mentioned in the media will to a large extent depend on the typeof relationships you build with the gate keepers of those various media; be theyeditors, journalists or bloggers.One good way of starting a relationship is to simply invite them out for lunch or acoffee – a very common practice by PR professionals, if thats practicable.Its a chance for the journalist to learn about you and crucially for you to learn aboutthem. What are they working on at the moment? What are their areas ofenthusiasm/interest? How do they decide on stories? How much of the decisionmaking on what stories to write is down to them or the editor? What particular angledoes the publication pursue?Also, try and develop a more personal relationship, such as personal interests,children, travel, sport etc...Again, after lunch follow up with an email, along the lines of it was great meetingyou for lunch today, I look forward to talking with you in the future etc...The other place to meet journalists is at conferences and exhibitions i.e. places thatare largely designed to create opportunities for networking.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 36
  39. 39. Look out for any journalists or editors giving speeches and go and meet themafterwards. Or find out whether any relevant publications will be sending someonealong to cover the conference and make an appointment to meet up with them.You could extend the same invitation to bloggers, or if they cant attend you couldoffer to feed them some anecdotal stories about the conference, comments on aninteresting speech, gossip (as long as it isnt libellous), report on whether peopleseemed upbeat or not, there was a lot of excitement when XYZ unveiled its latestproduct or something amusing happened when someone was giving a speech etc...Ideally with you writing the post in your own name with a link back to your website.As well as covering serious stuff, blogs are ideal for writing about the lighter side ofa topic. Before offering any info make sure you tailor it to what that particularblogger is interested in. Its possible they may not want any light trivial stories somake sure you enquire before hand.Does your company hold an annual party? Or a product launch party – then why notinvite the press. If its the Christmas party and it tends to get a bit raunchy and wildthen maybe not.Otherwise if you can pass on difficult to get information that can also be very helpfuland appreciated and is good for relationship building.Another route is to track down journalists blogs and twitter feeds and simply engagewith them on what theyre writing. Over time that could develop into a goodrelationship and put you in pole position to be quoted or even contacted when thatjournalist or blogger is seeking a comment from you.Other than that try and keep in touch fairly regularly, but not over the top.Writing The News ReleaseIf you dont have a lot of experience with writing then you may find this a littlechallenging at first, but its not complicated and its really a case of getting into themindset of writing news releases.To make this easier, I would take a very formulaic approach to doing this.There are a number of advantages to this approach. It allows the reader to quicklyget a grasp of what the story is about, hopefully that will come from the headline, butit should be clear at least by the opening paragraph.The other advantage with formulas is that once mastered, theyre relatively easy andquick to replicate. So lets start with the layout and once youve decided on aparticular format, which includes where everything will go, type face (times newroman, arial etc...) then stick with it for the sake of consistency.I would recommend this layout:Name of Your company right at the topCopyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 37 Note t
  40. 40. Name of Your company right at the topTodays dateIn bold the header: News ReleaseYour headlineYour copyAt the bottom you should have:Press contact: Name, position, telephone number & email addressNote to editors: this bit is for background describing what your company does, a bitabout its history, where its based (city & country), if you want it can give figures onturnover etc...But keep the whole news release short and relevant. Ideally news releases shouldnot be more than 2 pages long.The way to structure your copy, is to do so in the same way a journalist would writea news story, after all that is what youre hoping your news release will become – aprinted news story. So make it easy for a journalist to write it up.The Egyptians Werent The Only Ones Into PyramidsThe most common structure is the pyramid one. What that basically means is thatthe top of the story contains the most important facts with the less important onesmentioned towards the bottom of the story.To help you decide what is most important about your announcement and how towrite it, imagine having a conversation with a friend down the pub or over lunch.How would you summarise it for them while keeping it in simple every day language,what would come first? How would you explain your points?Here is a little exercise that might help. Simply type word for word a number of smallReuters, Bloomberg or FT news stories. You need to do at least 3 or 4. After awhile you will begin to appreciate that they are constructed in a very particularstructure and are usually tightly written.But only do this exercise on news stories – not opinion pieces like the FTs Lexcolumn, Reuters breakingviews or big feature stories that are usually printed insidethe FT. Though a lot of this copy is great, often superbly well written, it is not arelevant writing style for news stories, which have to be to the point and moreneutral in style.In other words it is not about clever writing or worse flowery time wasting prose.Bloomberg stories in particular, tend to be very formulaic.Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley 38
  41. 41. The Bloomberg way is to start with writing the headline and once thats done, thenproceed to write the first paragraph and so on.You dont have to be rigid about this, I sometimes take this approach, but mostly Iend up writing the first paragraph and then the headline straight after or on occasionleave it until right at the end so I can come up with a headline that captures theessence of what I have just written. But most experts advise that starting with theheadline is the best way.Also, write in the present tense, it is more lively and delivers a greater sense ofurgency.Tips On Writing HeadlinesIt should say what the story is aboutDont get cute and try and use clever puns or phrasesKeep the headline on one line and if possible keep it shortTry and make it catchy or make a strong claim (provided you can support it).It depends on the circumstances, but it can start with: How To...., Five Ways To...,Why XYZ Will Change Retailing Forever, Is ABC really better than XYZ? (maybe acomment on a new gadget that has just been released and how it compares withsomething else on the market)I would call these typical copywriter headlines (i.e. people who write marketing andsales copy). And thats fine in the right context.These type of headlines work well for new videos, podcasts or reports that aredesigned to help your target audience, such as if youre a gardening centre:Five Tips For Getting Your Garden Through Winter etc... (providing that its topical).Unfortunately, those sort of headlines probably wont get you maximum mileage withnews driven journalists, such as those who work for news wire services.A more newsy approach is better:So a tech company might go for something like this:New Gamma Widget Boosts Call Centre Efficiency by Cutting Call Waiting Times20%(if one of your key words – well come to those very shortly – is call centres then youwant to try and somehow get that in the headline as done here) otherwiseNew Gamma Widget Cuts Call Waiting Times By 20%If youre a financial adviser:Julys 5% Drop In Mortgage Approvals Reflects Fall In Attractive Products 39Copyright © 2012 by Justin Pugsley