What it Takes to Land a Business Feature

Companies hire PR pros to land big media wins. Most often when brands onboard a firm, they have sights set on a splashy business press story that positively touts their company’s growth, acknowledges it as a disruptor or compares it to a longstanding leader in the space. We’re with you, and we’re all about it!

While this is certainly not an unrealistic wish and one that your PR team is dedicated to achieving, it’s important to remember that feature stories about your company take time to cultivate, are all about timing and won’t always “be perfect” when they do publish.

Oftentimes, whether you’re a domineering Fortune 500 company or a sexy Silicon Valley startup or a non-profit organization with an incredible mission story, this type of story does not happen overnight or frequently for that matter. For PR pros, this can be a long, artful and delicate dance with the media, a full-team triathlon to press different media buttons, a stroke of pure luck or require a major PR stunt.

However, the thrill of inventing, chasing and landing this type of story for clients is what keeps PR pros coming back to work each day. While these wins mean so much clients, to a PR pro, seeing clients get major ink is one of the most professionally-gratifying, adrenaline-infused, sigh-of-relief moments we face. Every PR pro remembers their biggest business press wins, has a bucket list of those they’ve not yet conquered and is addicting to hooking the next big one.

Knowing that your PR team has the same passion for securing big business ink for your company, here are a few things to remember when tasking your team with landing a business feature.


Give an overview of what success looks like

In order to put your PR into action on landing your dream story, it’s important to define what you consider success. A few questions you should be prepared for your PR team to ask:

What is the focus of the story and audience you’re looking to reach? We pivot our feature-story strategy based on the need. If your PR team understands that you’re looking to drive greater sales for your company’s technology, they’re more likely to focus on selling a story that shares data on how that technology is performing and what new demands or issues the data shows that have not yet been discussed. If you’re looking to secure funding from investors, the team is more likely to work toward securing a Q&A with your CEO that shares growth strategies and industry-forward predictions.

Why is this story important? While this goes hand-in-hand with the previous question, it’s important for PR pros to understand where this need is coming from and helps to establish metrics for success. Do your investors have certain expectations or time frames we should be mindful of? Are your competitors consistently getting feature story ink or dominating industry Share of Voice? Is it critical for growing a certain portion of the business? Does your CEO need greater thought leadership credibility in the industry?

What do you consider a feature story? While every PR pro dreams of filling every sentence of a feature story with insight from their client and their client only, this is usually unrealistic, especially if we’re talking about landing it in top-tier business press. Credible, objective, fact-based journalism requires reporters to investigate multiple sources for a story in order to lay out the facts, address the gaps and offer solutions or predictions for change. It’s most likely that you’ll be one of the key players in the feature but if you’re the solo source of the story, understand that it’s the reporter’s journalistic duty to play “a bit of bad cop.” Simply put, they may question or draw parallels to a method or idea you presented, pose new challenges that you’ve not yet thought of or leave the story “hanging” for a follow up story that revisits or checks in on how you’re performing. While your PR team should guard and control the messaging so that you come out on top, understand this is typical when dealing with business press.


Take a deeper look at your competitors’ feature coverage

Before your PR team puts together a business press strategy, they’ll do deep research on the type of business stories your competitors have received. This analysis provides insight on what’s fueling competitor coverage, and oftentimes, can reveal new market opportunities that your company should consider executing. Some of the most common reasons your competitor is getting business ink over your company, include:

  • -Large funding news announcements (think huge rounds or IPO speculation)
  • -Celebrity-like investors or VC backers promoting the company’s work (think Andreessen-Horowitz and Jack Dorsey)
  • -Celebrity endorsements or celebrity-status partnerships (think Google, Apple, etc.)
  • -Large charitable commitments (think Hour of Code)

If your company doesn’t have this type of media ammo, don’t get discouraged. This is a good opportunity for your PR team to develop new marketing and brand-building campaigns that level the playing field among competitors and arm you with a few feature-breaking weapons.


Nix irrelevant news announcements that don’t help the cause

Journalists who write the industry’s most thoughtful, future-gazing feature stories want to hear from your PR team about those exact topics — new ideas that have yet to be uncovered and predictions on how emerging issues will impact an industry. Most often, if you don’t have news about the four themes mentioned in the previous section, don’t push your PR team to send business reporters general news announcements from your company. Sending news that isn’t feature-worthy dilutes the work your PR team is doing to build and secure a broader industry piece. Instead, spend that time brainstorming and arming your PR team with assets, commentary and data that supports the next big idea that your competitor is missing.


Know that small mentions build credibility and greater interest among business press

Landing a stellar top-tier business feature can take time (typically six months and longer), and every story your PR team lands along the way is just more fuel they can use to chip away at reporters via proactive outreach. Not only does sustaining a consistent flow of media mentions for your company drive more unsolicited stories, it also elevates the credibility of your company. Business press are more prone to include a company in a story if there is already credible press behind it. In addition, we also encourage clients to make sure their CEO and company Crunchbase profiles are up to date. Business media is drawn to data and this is another credible way to quickly show off your numbers.


Trust your PR team to execute the strategies they’ve developed

Your PR team is focused on succeeding. Day in and day out, PR teams have an “always on mentality” — performing heavy industry research; constantly communicating and interacting with industry reporters; frequently cross teaming and brainstorming to find the next big thing; reading every industry newsletter to keep a pulse on upcoming trends; and working every day to meet and exceed client metrics, which we personally take great pride and responsibility for achieving.

We think long and hard about the counsel and strategy proposed, have implemented checks and balances to ensure we’re meeting metrics decided upon and ultimately have your best interest at heart. We are motivated to accomplish great things when we know you trust, accept, believe in and allow us to execute the strategy set in place. If you’re focused on building this level of trust and respect with your PR team, be prepared for our team performance and enthusiasm for selling your company to skyrocket — and it’s at this level, when the most magical business media wins start to happen.

Natalie Townsend
Account Manager

Work at SHIFT

Posted on March 30, 2016 in Media, Public Relations

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  • RobinSamora

    SHIFTcomm Great article. Thanks for the share #publicrelations

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