6 Checkpoints You Should Include
Not long ago I interviewed an amazing industry CEO. Before we chatted I called the PR leader who’d sent the news that sparked my interest, and asked if he had any type of press kit with some extra background on the leader and/or the company.
Essentially his answer was, “Why would we have one? Anyone who’s interested can just look for info on Google.”
How well do you search?
It’s not as if the PR fellow’s wrong. A savvy reporter learns research from the get-go.
But I admit I’m prejudiced. When I started in health reporting over 20 years ago, we couldn’t do the kind of ‘net searches we can do now. Instead, I had to use print tools from a great reference resource called O’Dwyer’s…which still exists, BTW. One of their reference books identified media liaisons at numerous companies (from Fortune 500 to nonprofits), while another reference they had offered PR agencies and noted who was handling which clients.
So let’s say I was doing a story on summer shopping trends, including charity shopping outlets. I’d check one book and find which agencies handled shopping (or maybe grocery stores or even online shopping)—but then I’d still have to dig down to find experts in one of those specific areas. In the corporate book, I’d explore to find companies like the National Grocers Associations or National Retail Federation.
Today, search engines can find tons of needed retail info. Type in the generic phrase, “online shopping” and link after link appears, including Target and Walmart, Shopify…and on top, GoDaddy!
Oh, you’ll find other links, but many are .com, not .org or even .edu. It’s always better to find spokespeople from well-known places, like a university or an established nonprofit. Otherwise you could find anyone trying to glean recognition.
Saving time meshes good will
I clicked on one major medical center’s web page and looked everywhere for a link to a media liaison. In the old days we’d actually get a name, phone number, and a link—if the latter was even available yet! Now you’re lucky if you find something like media@XYZplace.org--and for this site I couldn’t even find that.
I know it can create hassles letting the world know anyone’s contact info. But anyone who really wants to build media relationships makes it as easy as possible for the press to glean contacts.
Be a time tracker
What’s really ironic is that the ‘net may take away more of your time than the old paper explorations. That’s because it’s so easy to get lost in computer searches!
That’s why when I teach “Succeeding as a Magazine Writer,” one of the key pointers is to keep a time tracker. Depending on what you’re getting paid and the depth of the project, try not to put more than 10%—and at most 15%—of your time into research.
So if you’re the business leader looking for story help, keep track of your research hours. And if you’re posting news so as to gain the media’s attention, you should save reporters as much time as possible.
Checkpoints for your media kit
OK, you don’t need a print media kit anymore. But having one as a downloadable resource can be a major time saver. And that in turn makes you the resource the media will come to regularly for entrepreneurial or other business savvy.
The odds are you have tons of this as web links—assuming you’re an established provider of business-related communications. But what if you’re just starting in an area that’s not communications; e.g., providers of a new retail shopping tool? Or how about you’re a one-person op, like the author of the latest book on frugal shopping smarts—and don’t even have a site yet?
Not everyone—even in larger companies—has created the resources that enhance reliable storytelling. So consider inserting a Media tab or—if you want to diminish how easily general consumers will find it—put a “Media Resources” link way at the bottom in tiny font, along with things like Privacy and Customer Service links.
Then within that section include:
About Us—A bit of the history of your product, service, and/or company.
Our Leaders—Corporate execs you want to identify. Put actual names, titles, brief bios, maybe head shots. This can be especially helpful if your site link takes FOREVER to find the right person. My grouse: many of you are using only photos and you have to click endlessly on each image to find out who the heck is the person you really want to reach!
Special Events—Will your people be at upcoming trade shows? Are you offering insights through a webinar? Anyone appearing on TV or other media?
Story Ideas—NO one offers this anymore! Put together five or six titles that show topics your execs regularly chat about. Make sure those skimming understand if you’re interested only in reaching industry readers, or if you want the regular public to understand more about you.
Helpful Stats—You can save the reporter time by offering bulleted data like “5 In 8 Americans are solely online shoppers,” or “Over 63% of today’s emergency departments still don’t have easy access to bring an off-site neuro expert to the diagnostic area.” (I’m making up these numbers, BTW.) You might even put subheads instantly showing the media which stats are B2B, which relate to online shoppers, or any other specs you can offer.
Media Contact—Maybe it’s just you, but some places have multiple liaisons. E.g., “Charles Smith,” may be the contact relating to online shopping and local shopping successes, while “Judy Jones,” can steer media to experts in the company’s history and financial information.
Of course offer anything else you think could be helpful; I’ve seen “Investor Relations” for the financial reporters. As you gather the names and contact info of the media, make sure to include them in your newsletters—some just basic news, but remember real stories like this!###
When you need interviews to create your media kit or help generating great business stories to entice reporters, contact journalist-turned-marketing storyteller Wendy Meyeroff. She’s created award-winning business stories for 20+ years, collaborating with folks at CBS, Sears, Vision Expo, and the Independent Community Bankers of America…to name a few.