7 tips for outstanding public relations

• 6 minute read • 11/06/2019
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There is still a lot of room for improvement in the world of PR. All too often journalists are approached with messages that aren’t relevant to them. This leaves less room and time for press releases and makes it harder to reach your goals. But how do you make sure your press release stands out among all the others? I discussed this issue with Martijn Hoek, the founder of Smart.pr and Journa. He shared 7 important tips for an outstanding public relations department that are essential for your company.

The most important aspect of Public Relations is your relationship with the journalist. After all, this is the person whom you want to write about your brand. But how do you find this person? And how do you build a history with him or her, so you can do better when the next contact takes place? Hence, in brief; how do you arrange your work as efficiently as possible, to increase your chances of being published?

#1 It all starts with the dataset

The time when organisations had lists of relevant journalists in Excel has passed. After all, keeping these lists up-to-date is a time-consuming task. Several tools, such as Smart.pr, take this burden off your shoulders by offering an up-to-date address database of journalists. With this tooling, you can find the right, relevant journalists for your press release. Moreover, the tooling takes the changes in the position of journalists and their contact details into account. This way your list of journalists is up-to-date at all times.

#2 Be selective and don’t spam.

OK, so you now have a list of journalists at your disposal. Use this database to filter journalists by specific subjects, locations or interests. Make sure you specifically target the journalists, so you can reach relevant journalists with subjects they are interested in. However, it is important to keep the lists manageable. And don’t spam! Martijn wants to add the following for organisations who approach as many journalists as possible in order to increase their chances of publication:

“When you spam a journalist with press releases that aren’t relevant to him/her, chances are they won’t open your email next time.”

Make clear selections in subjects. For example, look up journalists in subjects as ‘sustainability’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ when you send out a press release on sustainable entrepreneurship. This will reduce the amount of journalists that you find, but you will reach the most relevant people. Don’t have a database to help you search for the rights tags? Then approach journalists who have written about your topic in the past.

#3 Learn from your actions.

So, you have sent out your press release and now it’s time to learn from the actions you have taken. Analyse which mailings have been opened by which journalists. Does someone open your messages about trendy, new subjects, but not about art, then remove him or her from the ‘art’ list. Make sure you can find out for yourself what topic matches with a certain journalist.

It is also important to analyse your messages. Keep an eye on the open-rate and the amount of clicks. This helps you to optimise your messages in the future. When you know who opened your messages about press releases and what they clicked on, you can find out what is interesting to each journalist. Create a new list with journalists who opened and clicked on your message and approach these journalists first when you write about a similar topic in the future.

#4 Build a good relationship with journalists

In order to build a relationship with journalists it is advisable to keep track of your contact moments and the information you have shared with them in a CRM system. Colleagues can also have a look at this information and when you speak the journalist again, you can refer to this previous contact. This way you can get the most out of the relationship.

#5 Mind the size of your message

It is also important to realise that the mailbox of the journalist you are approaching is continuously filling up with press releases. So make sure your article has a title that stands out, and keep your email short. Consider the amount of MBs your attachments and images take up. When you send the press release via a tool, it will probably automatically take this into account. If this is not the case, make your images as small as possible, so they don’t take up too much space. It is also important to check if your email doesn’t have a weird-looking layout and that the journalist can simply copy the text. This makes the journalist’s job easier, because you take unnecessary work off his hands.

#6 Make sure you can be reached

Make sure your name and telephone number are clear and can easily be found, so the journalist can always reach you. After all, there is no bigger turnoff for a journalist than someone who can’t be reached after he or she sent out a press release. So ensure that you can easily be reached when a journalist has additional questions. Include your personal details in both the introductory text of your press release, where you introduce the subject, and at the bottom of the text.

#7 PR is sales

Within your Public Relations position it is important to realise that you are taking part in sales. However, you aren’t selling a product, but your idea to the journalist. Nevertheless, you should realise that being published is not a right you have, and you cannot demand it. Therefore you should ensure that the journalist wánts to write about you. Sell your story to him or her and optimise your ‘likeability’ factor. Add the relevant journalists to your LinkedIn and create sufficient contact moments with the journalists that are important for you. Invest time in getting to know the person and spend time on the relationship. Building a relationship cannot be done with 1 or 2 press releases, it costs time. Take this time, be patient and you will see that PR is an immensely valuable tool.

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