Five Steps to Foster New International Media Relationships and Generate Coverage
When companies craft a communications strategy, they are aware that as audiences consume articles, blog posts, and videos, not all sources are created equal. “Imagine the power of having your brand value proposition effectively and consistently described from a variety of sources. But conversely, imagine the lost opportunity or damage it causes if your messages are random or even conflicting,” says Cheryl Conner, author of Beyond PR: Communicate Like a Champ in the Digital Age. In terms of the “variety of sources” that Conner refers to, audiences tend to trust people who are not in the employ of a brand. It is not surprising that 81 percent of senior marketers believe earned media has more of a positive impact than paid media.
For many Asian companies seeking a global audience, they face a few issues in relation to fostering international media relationships and facilitating earned media coverage. From our observation, many Asian companies may not spend too much time to monitor what their potential media channels are writing about or to nurture media relationships over time. They tend to reach out to international media when they launch new products and attend international exhibitions. As such, there may not be a match in terms of the international media channels’ content preferences and editorial calendar.
So how can Asian companies adopt a more targeted media outreach approach to stay a step ahead of their competition? After answering this question, you must also convince journalists that your company has a unique story or viewpoint to share – which may be equally challenging.
It is vital to remember that media channels anywhere in the world are keen to curate the most valuable content for their readers and an effective outreach strategy must be aligned to their core mission. Let’s review the following five tried-and-tested steps when reaching out to the international media:
Step 1: Establish Digital Credentials
Just like a potential client, journalists will research online to determine whether companies are a legitimate expert in the field. Therefore, before approaching the international media, it is important for companies to create an English language web page that includes an “about” page that highlights background, areas of expertise, and previous media coverage. It is also a great idea to create a media kit that contains relevant information regarding services and products in one location. This way, busy journalists may access such information more quickly.
Step 2: Access a Comprehensive Media Intelligence Tool
Journalists receive lots of irrelevant emails so reaching out with relevant pitches is vital to avoid irritating them and generate coverage – as Jane Wells, Special Correspondent at CNBC, puts it, “Apparently some in the PR industry must get paid by the number of emails they send, because that’s the only explanation for the couple hundred irrelevant and ridiculous messages I receive every day.”
To avoid inadvertently annoying journalists, and spend time nurturing media relationships instead, my team suggests setting up keywords of their vertical and competitors on a media intelligence tool such as Cision Communication Cloud, companies may analyze related trending topics on indicators of media and social media mentions. This will offer a data-based approach to identify the sweet spot between companies’ unique expertise and journalists’ interest.
You may also tap on Cision Communication Cloud to zoom into specific profiles of journalists and bloggers to look at their recent articles as well as Twitter postings to maximize the chances of a win-win fit with your company’s products. After shortlisting the most relevant journalists and bloggers, you may then refer to their contact details to speed up your media outreach process.
A search for media contacts and bloggers using keywords. Source: Cision Communication Cloud
Step 3: Craft a Winning Pitch
“If you have a good story to pitch in two minutes or less, great. One minute is even better,” says Frank Washkuch, News Director at PRWeek. Therefore, a strong email pitch should be clear, concise, and customized. Why email? Over 90% of journalists reported that email is their preferred method of pitching. Our team recommends checking off a few boxes when making an email pitch:
Share your proposed headline, describe why the topic will be unique and interesting to the media channel’s readers.
Briefly introduce your company’s expertise and explain how you are best placed to tell this unique story.
Provide supporting links to back up your pitch, including relevant articles published by this media channel.
Use bullet points as appropriate to make your pitch easy to read.
Double-check to avoid spelling and grammar mistakes.
At the risk of stating the obvious, a pitch should also be written without spelling and grammar mistakes. To appear professional and minimize the chances of such an “own goal”, you may wish to tap on a more advanced language-checking tool such as Grammarly.
Step 4: Winning the News Cycle
The news cycle rewards companies that connect the dots between earned, owned and paid media to optimize exposure to your target audiences. It is a good idea to ask journalists when they are planning to publish your company’s content and to plan either social media or paid amplification of earned media content. In terms of social media amplification, it is good manners (and PR) to thank a media channel and journalist for featuring yourself and your company. This way, your company’s existing social network will learn about the latest media coverage.
An example of social media amplification of earned media
Paid amplification on social media may also be considered as these platforms typically allow companies to target precisely, e.g. location, job title, to get content to your target audiences’ eye level.
News cycle planning also refers to planning a regular flow of news about your company to build mindshare with journalists over time. Obviously, if a journalist is familiar with your company prior to a big, important event, e.g. an international exhibition, you are more likely to succeed with your pitch. Therefore, you should plan ahead and think beyond getting reported by media – Companies may also tap on press releases to share curated content such as new products, infographics, white papers, and any valuable and therefore newsworthy information. By launching a regular stream of high-quality stories, your media contacts are more likely to approach you for fresh content especially when your company needs it most.
Step 5: Be Persistent (but Polite)
If you’ve done everything else right, you could stand to be a bit more persistent. Journalists get dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of emails daily, and sometimes they are going to lose track of their emails. If you don’t hear back within a week, follow up with a second email or reach out via social media private messages. If you don’t hear back then, you may then assume that there’s no interest and move on.
Getting journalists’ and bloggers’ attention will always be challenging. In one way or another, we’re all storytellers and willing consumers of stories, so journalists will always appreciate creative, authentic content from companies that helps them craft more unique stories. Supporting the media’s mission of creating valuable content for their readers and demonstrating your professionalism with these five steps is going to be immensely helpful to companies seeking to foster new international media relationships.