So far in 2018, 101.9 million articles and 5.6 million news blogs have been published online, according to a search on media analytics tool Sysomos. Through its own newsroom, Facebook issued 31 corporate and 24 product announcements. In 2017, nearly 22,700 venture capital deals were struck according to CrunchBase.
What does this all mean? Getting media coverage is more competitive than ever. There are less reporters responsible for producing a higher volume of stories at a faster pace. Tech giants and behemoth corporations drive a high volume of the media’s stories. The news cycle is faster.
There are plenty of creative ways to drive coverage – like newsjacking and bold thought leadership – but news makes news. A hard news hook tied to a specific announcement date can help your story rise above the rest. So, when you do have an announcement, it’s key to sync up with your PR team early to ensure it’s used for the most PR impact.
Here are a few best practices to maximize news.
Why Pitch News Under Embargo
- Once news is broken, it loses some of its value. Media want to cover news when it’s still new.
- Embargoes maximize coverage by giving reporters equal access ahead of time.
- Embargoes give your PR team time to follow up/convince press they should cover your story (over all the other ones they’re being pitched).
- Embargoes give press time to build your news into their busy workload/story queue.
How to Work with your PR Team to Make the Most of News
- Alert your team to announcements as early as possible. A month+ is ideal.
- Work with PR to understand the news value and how to position it or build a bigger story for maximum impact.
- Discuss whether embargo, exclusive or day-of pitching will yield the best result.
- Agree to the embargo day/time and stick to it. Once a reporter agrees to it, they are free to publish it then even if you decide you want to postpone.
- Finalize the press release before outreach begins. Once a reporter reviews it, they’ll see it as final and can include any information in coverage. They typically don’t appreciate changes to messaging and it can hurt the chances of landing a positive article.
- If closing funding/doing M&A, alert your team before it closes, if possible. Once you file with the SEC, reporters can find it and will break it.
- Identify what you can/can’t share publicly – financial figures help make the story – and the level of confidentiality required ahead of time.
How Embargoes or Exclusives Get Pitched
- PR alerts target reporter(s), ~3-5 business days before go-live, you have an announcement on a specific date.
- This gives reporters enough time to evaluate the news/sell the story to their editor and gives the team ample time to pitch all desired reporters, follow up on interest and coordinate additional materials or interviews the reporter may need.
- PR asks reporter(s), “do you agree to an embargo of [TIME] on [DATE]?”
- No additional information is shared until he/she agrees to honor the embargo.
- PR shares details and the press release, and offers an interview.
- Just because a reporter agrees to an embargo does not mean they’ll cover.
- In an embargo, PR continues pitching other key targets, but only offers the story to one reporter at a time per outlet. They may try another relevant reporter at the same outlet if the first declines.
- In an exclusive, if the reporter declines PR moves on to another reporter or outlet.
Follow these best practices to ensure a smooth execution and that your PR team can make the most out of your news in today’s noisy PR landscape.