One of the Yahoo Self Publishing Group members posted two really important questions… about how to do targeted PR:
1) HOW do you find those people?
2) WHAT comprises that irresistible message?
I do this for a living for clients in all sorts of genres and industries. Here goes:
1) How do you find the right people?
First identify your target audience. Who are they? What do they do? How do they buy products like yours? When and how? Where do they get their recommendations? Research and identify what they read, watch and listen to particularly when they are most receptive to a product or service suggestion. You can focus on reaching individuals or utilizing media because of the credibility and audiences they can reach for you. Here’s a checklist of prime media:
Daily and weekly newspapers
Magazine & Trade Publications
News services & syndicates
Radio and TV stations, shows & networks
Then you have the online media:
News Web Sites
Audio Podcasts/Photo/Video Sharing Sites
Social Networking Sites
While you want to assemble a list of newspapers, magazines, radio stations, TV programs, news services, syndicates, and Internet media that will help you reach your target audience, bear in mind that these aren’t the only places that people congregate. Here’s a list of non-media venues you ought to consider:
Since I’m a publicist, I use a licensed media database called Cision to do this and I create custom lists for client outreach efforts.
But you can scratch the surface yourself using the Internet and make use News Search Engines and searchable free online media directories to search by key word to identify articles and media that you want to contact and pitch your own articles to. You can use the specialized search tools at Facebook, Twitter, and other MEDIA” just as easily and you can develop pitches that are properly formatted and designed to be appropriate for those technologies. The challenge will be reaching enough of them and being persuasive with them so you get your message published in enough places.
2) To identify THE IRRESISTABLE MESSAGE
I write a lot of blog posts on this. I call this the miracle of the microcosm.
This is a technique I recommend you experiment with. You can do this with any type of marketing communications. It basically focuses you on identifying a model of success and mimicking it as you create your own message. The idea is simple – follow in the footsteps of someone who is doing things that are successful.
You can use Google news for example on the word “troubleshooting tips” which I did for you here: http://goo.gl/gMO74
There are over 1,000 articles for you to study. Some are news releases, some are articles in newspapers and others are article in magazines and trade publications. Now your goal is to pick ONE! Find one about someone else, that is really interesting and motivates you the way you want to motivate others. This is your model success story.
Then open up your word processing program and start writing. Look at their headline, and then write your own. Then do their first sentence, then write your own. Then do their first paragraph, and write your own. You walk your way all the way through the article to the last sentence.
You may find this to be very mechanical, but guess what, it works. If for example, you use a story in USA Today as your model, and you use this technique, then you create an article that matches readership interest and editorial style on the first try. It looks like it belongs there.
And when you send it to USA Today, you maximize your chances of being successful with them because they tend to recognize when you’ve done your homework. And if it’s good enough for USA Today, then other media will respond to it as well.
Identify the successes of your competition or the authors in your genre. Study what they use to be successful and follow in their footsteps. If you are a story teller, tell stories. If you are a horror writer, scare and horrify people. If you write sci-fi, then talk about the future. Give people and experience. Engage them and let them experience something that is truly emotionally engaging. Don’t be boring. Be stimulating. Choose what you say carefully. Plan it out, test it, select and rehearse, like an actor or an actress on stage.
What you do is you talk about the ideas and concepts in your book and how it affects others. People are really only interested in things that have value to their own lives or others that they care about. That is what you must offer. I have a little poetic like formula which I wrote which describes what you need to do which goes like this:
Tell me a story
give me a local news angle (my audience!)
touch my heart (make me laugh or cry)
teach me something new
astound or amaze me,
make my stomach churn with horror or fear,
hit me in my pocketbook
or turn me on.
And do this as many times as you can in two to three minutes.
If you study your target media and employ the 3-I technique, you will see that news coverage is largely predictable. Consumers and editors are drawn to types of stories that have worked well in the past. If you want to receive coverage, it’s important that you get familiar with these content patterns and do your best to replicate them.
The reason is simple: media publish what sells. To be in media you have to give them what they publish. Therefore to maximize your chances, you give it to them their way.
Now I’ve been doing this with clients for years and I’ve characterized the many patterns and ways media publish. The following list of most commonly featured content is derived from analyzing successful media coverage of my clients in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV:
1. A dramatic personal story that describes achievement in the face of adversity plus a little humor.
2. A problem-solving-tips article on a timely topic that shows how you can help the people that you can help the most.
3. An innovative product or service that people want because of the remarkable benefits offered.
4. A dramatic and interesting photograph that tells a 1,000-word story at a glance.
5. A new development or situation that affects lots of people in a unique way.
6. A personal battle between the forces of good and evil, or David and Goliath.
7. A truly heartwarming tale with a happy or remarkable ending.
8. New effective techniques or tactics to improving a problem or situation that is commonly faced.
9. New form of creativity that makes people feel good or experience heightened emotions.
10. A story that makes people cringe in fear, howl with delight, or experience intense desire or want.
11. An explanation of a mystery that confounds a lot of people.
12. News, analysis, and commentary on a controversial issue or topic.
13. Localized stories and media access to the local people involved.
14. Innovative and new ways to have fun, save money, help people, increase their enjoyment, protect the environment, and help them get more out of life.
15. Unusual, hot, and wacky ideas, products, activities, and situations.
16. Mouthwatering recipes, food, culinary delights, or opportunities.
17. Educational, unusual, hard-to-believe, never-before-revealed, or fascinating news, data, information, or stories.
18. Record-breaking achievements, competitions, paradoxes, dilemmas, anything that confounds the human spirit.
19. Knowledge, ideas, or information that astounds, enlightens, and inspires people to experience new feelings.
20. Remarkable little things people may not know about, that will make their dreams come true.
This is the way to make use of the miracle of the microcosm. These are weapons of mass persuasion, in part because readers and viewers know the arc of these pieces by heart. This familiarity soothes them and allows them to concentrate on the particulars of your story.
This is how you first develop and prove what you can say that turns people on and gets them to take the action you want, and then use technology as a force multiplier to repeat the message and reproduce the action you want in quantity.
If you follow my advice, please send me what you create. I’d love to see it.
So many people struggle when they pitch media for coverage. They really don’t understand what media want and need.
The 3 I Technique makes it very easy to select the best topic and then nail it on the first try.
And with news search engines to aid you it doesn’t matter where you are are at all. You just search on your keywords to identify the most recent media coverage.
Then you use the 3 I Technique and design a proposal for media coverage that matches readership interest and editorial style. Push the conversation forward in a new direction carefully and strategically.
Content messaging: Broad or narrow - which is better?
What did you say today? What did you sell today?
Look at your messaging. Is it aimed broad or is it aimed at a specific niche. Which sells best depends on where and how the ROI is returned?
If ten broad content posts produces a 0.02 percent ROI (in terms of dollars) and the ROTI (return on time invested) and you can get a 2 percent ROI off ten niche posts at the same ROI, then you get 100 times the ROI from your niche posts.
I personally observe in my clients and have experienced myself that broad content also carries a much higher risk of producing a negative ROI, if it produces “energy vultures”. These are people who simply become a time and money wasting drain which reduces and undermines the ROI you get from real prospects and customers.
Traffic does not always equate with profit. Sometimes, there is an investment required to to turn a cold call or inquiry into a hot prospect and paying client.
This is why I train my clients to go where your people are and learn how to turn them on. Usually that means teaching them something they didn’t know before.
But it’s not always niche content that does the trick. I have many clients who are superb generalists. They can be witty, hilarious, and make all sorts of people laugh, cry, cringe in horror or squeal with delight. Hey a half naked man or woman with six pack abs always gets heads to turn.
But when and if you get up close and personal, they turn you off. Their niche communications are too pushy, too impersonal, too demanding, and don’t deliver on the promise or expectations.
The lesson is that you have to develop whatever messaging you use carefully and test it till it gets the action you want. You have to study, analyze and improve every step in the funnel – every communications touch point and the overall process.
If you fail to track, then you lose the ability to know what is really happening. The trick is to take actions that can be tracked and use metrics that matter, so you can manage what you do effectively.
If you do something that helps, do more of it. If it doesn’t work, stop and do something else.
In fact, if you practice and test and improve your messaging so you do this really well, you will make them realize that hiring you (or buying whatever it is you are selling) is simply the best action they can take.
Pay for Performance PR - Analysis of Pros and Cons
There are several different types of PR firms and they operate in accordance to one of more models.
Pay for Performance
Pay for play
Task Based Service Providers
Pay & Pray News Release Distribution Services
Do It Yourself PR
If you want to see the whole article, please send me an email at Paul@DirectContactPR.com
I’m excerpting just the first section, which addresses your pay for performance question.
First we have to recognize what a publicist can do for you.
Recognize that a publicist will spend time researching, writing, copywriting, and devoting their experience and expertise on your behalf. They will study what you have created, evaluate your skills and hopefully identify and leverage what you are best at, then craft copy to be used in persuading media to give publish articles, interviews, and reviews, or producers to feature you and do interviews on their shows. They will then contact media, hopefully the right media, on your behalf, and pitch you and see if you can meet the media needs. They will then try to get you the best type of coverage you seek. They may also train you and guide you so that you do the best article or performance and maximize your chances of turning a profit.
When you hire a publicist, you must negotiate the work that the publicist will do for you. It is best if you clearly understand and have a precise definition of the work that will be performed and when it is completed.
Pay for Performance
Very simply, you will pay for the quantity and quality of the coverage you receive based on a rate that is commensurate with perceived and or prior proven value of the coverage, the market size and importance.
If you think that the “pay-for-performance” is a way to produce guaranteed media coverage you might want to think again. You may fall victim to your own success.
Every pay-for-performance PR firm warns and acknowledges that clients are likely to pay way more than they anticipated, particularly when a PR campaign is successful in a big way. You can negotiate and will pay more on a spectrum that goes from pithy or snappy quotes from you as author or expert, to company mentions, to book or product reviews, to feature stories, to short interviews, to long in-depth interviews.
For example, a single placement in on a major national TV show may cost $15 – 25,000, while a mention in a small newspaper might run you $150 – 300, a radio show in small town America might run you $200 – 500, or in a major metropolitan area for $1000 – 1500 or more. Feature stories will go for $300 to $3,000 depending on market, industry and circulation.
If you sign a contract for pay-for-performance, you will be obligated if you get the interview or if the story, large or small is printed.
Here’s the catch: Whether you sell product and break even on the costs of getting the media coverage is up to you and what you make of the golden opportunity.
In other words, if you galvanize people and your interview and story results in sales, yes, you can do very well.
But if you put on a mediocre or boring performance, then you will still be contractually obligated to pay for the coverage whether you make money or not. You are on the hook and yes, you can be sued if you fail to honor those contractual obligations.
Dan Smith owner of Smith Publicity has posted a great reference case study article on his website.
Discusses the latest Google algorithm changes and how the impacts on news release distribution
Google Changes to the World of News Release Distribution
For many years now marketing practitioners have been advocating people use news releases to improve their placement on search engines. The theory was that you could write and post a news release at a web distribution service and the optimized use of keywords and the links included in the release would result in oodles of incoming links all of which would help capture people’s attention and increase your page ranking on search engines as a result.
Google has decided to clean up the search results and do what it can to rid organic results of press release content that is really not bona fide news, but are instead, paid advertising in disguise. The requirements also have significance to sites that rely heavily on user-generated content.
The latest Google algorithm changes, known as Penguin 2.0, modifies how Google analyzes the role and utility of news releases posted at news release distribution services in a very significant way. The changes, adopted in late July 2013, include the following:
1. Press releases will be treated as paid placement by Google.
2. Optimized anchor text links in a press release distribution post will be considered as “unnatural” and will not be used in Google PageRank search result calculations.
3. Google now requires news release distribution services to add a “no follow” code attribute to all their outbound links in the news releases they post.
What this means is that if you now do a search for keywords on Google or Google News, your will now notice the near total absence of news releases, which used to account for fifty percent of more of what was the search engines produced in the top ten pages. No more. What is now delivered are articles from real media – newspapers, magazines, radio, tv, selected news services & syndicates, and the online versions, news web sites, and certain blogs.
The Google “no follow” and “anchored text” policies apply to”webmasters and directly impact services such as PR Web, Businesswire, PR Newswire, Send2Press, WebWire, MarketWire, OnlinePR Media, eReleases, and many more of the sites who used to be able to get top placement with their posted and archived news releases.
No more. Google has declared those days are over. The new moves by Google places the highest value on unique, quality content at real media sites.
The new search engine results highlight real media and focus on “earned media” and not subsidized links designed to simply weight and manipulate search engine results.
Google is also on the lookout to reduce the impact of large scale guest post activities and advertorials.
For several years now, SEO placement was driven by the use of “unnatural” backlinks and the heavy handed use of keywords in news releases. A variety of “black hat” SEO practices have been developed and used to push page placement. This will no longer be a viable strategy for businesses to utilize if they seek to improve their SEO ranking and the traffic they receive.
Natural links, directly to quality core content, expert or a company web site, are still acceptable.
What this means to publicity seekers is that a news release should not be written with the purpose of producing a sale directly. The news release should also not be written as an advertorial, or an infomercial.
The best view is that a news release is a pitch to a publisher (=media) to get them do publish or produce a story in the medium they utilize.
A news release, or a press release, is therefore a media proposal — a purpose driven communication that is delivered to media, or placed where they can find it, and which invites the media to do a feature story, an interview or a review (in the case of a book or product), and which contains an offer or the actual content and access to the people, needed to do that job.
So if you want real media coverage, write a news release that is truly designed to get you quality media coverage and send it to the right media. Instead of a post and pray web service. Then target your media carefully and send it to the right media directly. Reach out and contact real media people and offer them everything they need to do their job your way.
Help the people that you can help the most. The latest change means that quality content matters now more than ever before.
Good problem solving advice, news, value-added commentary, noteworthy public events, innovative products, quality books, and the best entertainment will get higher search engine placement, and hence command more value in the eyes of the searching public. Earned media coverage acquired by using targeted PR tactics and strategies will be one of the primary vehicles for gaining that status.
Evaluating Your Media Coverage - Online Clipping with Search Engines
Evaluating Your Media Coverage – Online Clipping with Search Engines
There are several ways to search and find media coverage without spending money on clipping service. All you have to do is use the right keywords and search in the right places. You can discover many, if not most, of the media coverage you get from your campaigns within a week of your outreach.
There are several types of search engines you can use – all of these are free. There are more search engines out there and this list will always change over time. These are the ones that I use on a regular basis.
Search by using a persons’ name, their book, product or whatever keyword you want to focus on. To keep your results narrow and focused, place “quotation marks” around your search words.
If you want to evaluate media coverage, focus on the keywords that you are researching and study what is being published, by whom, and what the article or interviews says.
The online media kit is simply the electronic version of a regular media kit. Instead of paper delivered, you place the content, photography, bio, advice, book covers, and references on a dedicated web site page that is easy to find, navigate and use. All the key core content media requires is made available with links or downloads.
Every media kit must be designed to meet the media’s needs. The goal with media is to get media coverage. Feature stories, interviews, and product reviews are the most common goals for most creatives. Photographs, videos, music play, event announcements, calendar items, op-eds, columns, and even letters to the editor are other possibilities.
You select and design the numerous key content components to match the entity seeking the coverage to the target media style, content, and requirements.
The most effective online media kits give the media everything they need to do their job, the way you want that job done.
So many media! What’s a person to do? Who is going to read your news release? How do you close the deal?
Target your media carefully, based the following criteria:
1. What are you trying to achieve with the media? Most people can benefit from feature stories, interviews, and products reviews, in that order. Some people want incoming links along with the content that drives SEO. What do you want?
2. Who can do that for you? Identify the right people by keyword and geography, by beat and area of authority or responsibility.
3. Can you supply them with the content or people they need to do their job directly? Can you send it to them electronically? Can you deliver it by mail? In person? Do they need to send a camera crew? Your chances for success go up if the delivery is fast and if the cost they incur is low. The slower the delivery and the higher the costs, the less likely you are to succeed in doing at needs to be one to get real media coverage.
4. How effectively can you reach them to engage in a meaningful communication about your proposal? Can you reach them directly by email and phone? By fax? By street mail? Only by appointment? Are they well protected by secretaries or administrative assistants? Are you using an online a post and pray news release distribution method where the only chance of being discovered is if someone in your target media trips over you having done a keyword search? Reaching media by phone, email and street mail is the best way to make a direct connection.
Lots of people get all of these wrong.
You can watch your media success improve dramatically when you treat media people with respect by targeting media carefully. Make sure you offer and can deliver:
1. Galvanizing news, education or entertainment that is designed to interest lots of people in the selected media audience
2. Tangible real value. Help the people you can help the most.
3. Easy access to the information, graphics, technology and the people that the media need to do their job the way you want it done, and by covering the travel costs for the delivery if needed.
In November, I published a 400-page (20 in color) hardbound reference book with dust jacket about a particular regiment during the Civil War. It is the first of four books planned about the regiment. It is in pdf format without an ISBN. Although I’ve sold 300 copies locally (at $30 each), I’ve probably exhausted my available client list and would like to be able to offer it online in some format.
What should be my next step?
I’ve worked with a few authors and publishers of history, military, and civil war books so I’ll offer up some strategy and ideas from a book publicity standpoint. At the end I’ll point you in the direction of taking the same outreach communications and aiming at the “interest groups” you can reach directly using a similar but adapted approach. Here goes:
You can seek book reviews in certain media categories, but I believe this is one of those cases where feature stories filled with anecdotes, factual data, interesting information, and photos (hopefully some are available), will enable you to convey some portion of what the books offer so that you can make a truly favorable impression with the best galvanizing content.
There are several ways to target the different pools of media who we have seen respond with interest to books like this. I’m using the online Cision database which covers the US and Canada to provide the following information:
First there is the history media, with two key subcategories, national history and local history. I just created a custom media list and while it is not a big pool of media (770 media in the raw data Cision search but when I take out the empty & duplicate emails there are 646 media left) the people who cover this topic do have avid readers. I saved this list and will send it to you so you can see who is on this list. In the local history category, you will have to hand select media that align with the geography of the book and the people in the regiment.
Second there is the military media. The Cision count shows over 700 media (before cleaning) that cover this topic. There are military history buffs and depending on the stories you tell, you can get different types of military editors interested. There are several military subcategories including military lifestyle, Armed Forces, and other specialized categories. I’d recommend you study how a few of these media do military history feature stories first, and then use my 3 I technique to create a story pitch that looks like it belongs inside your target media.
Third, you can target media geographically and seek local feature stories based on the locations covered in the books, where the events covered by the book took place, and where the families of the people resided at the time.
Fourth, you could offer this out to all the non-fiction and general book reviewers. My latest database count from Cision for the categories of books, book reviews, authors, fiction, non-fiction, literature, and writing identifies over 3,300 media listings (before cleaning)..
Fifth, you could send an interview pitch to the NPR and PBS stations and shows. I’d recommend this go nationwide, but again, I would expect the media in the geographic areas covered to express the most interest, depending on how you spun the stories. To get to the national level, you would need to offer information and insights that have national implications, especially as regards what we see in our lives today, which is a consequence of what you write about. There are about 1,100 NPR radio station media and 800 PBS outlets.
Sixth, if there is ethnic or multicultural element, say the book is about an African American regiment, then you have an additional media pool who will have interest in the topics you write about.
I worked recently on a book by James Cameron, titled Color of War, a book which is based on extensive research and first-hand interviews with veteran white Marines and black Marines and African-American sailors who survived Port Chicago, a historic disaster in WWII. Campbell crafted The Color of War to paint a gripping picture of July 1944, the explosive month that changed the course of history. The Color of War juxtaposes the spirit of the Greatest Generation with the scars of segregation. In June 2012, in a fitting tribute, the black Marines who fought in Saipan will be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their WWII service. President Obama signed legislation to create the nation’s 392nd national park, the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial in Concord, California, to commemorate the explosion and the men who lost their lives at Port Chicago. The PR effort was pretty successful and got coverage in newspapers, magazines, radio and tv both locally in Chicago and nationwide. (I’ll send this news release to you and a few others so you can see what history news releases look like.)
I think the most critical element of your approach to media would be to not simply describe what the book contains. You have to tell entertaining stories that are so good as to intellectually and emotionally engage the audience and capture their imagination and make them relive a piece of the history. If they like the hefty taste you give them enough, then they will want the whole set of books. The news release offers stories and photographs so as to communicate to media both the printable, audio and visual elements of the stories that can be shared so the media can easily imagine what the finished media coverage looks like and sounds like. You’ll have to be willing to let the media publish or use on TV the photos you have available for their feature stories. You might want to be the interviewee but you may also want to see if you can find family member descendants so as to enlarge the pool of people so you can add depth and greater human interest.
The next area to follow along and create a parallel outreach strategy by using Google to identify the clubs, associations, institutions, museums, events, historical societies, and other groups of people who devote considerable time and interest to all the above subject matter areas: history, the civil war, books, military, veterans, and so on. Start locally (e.g., with a search on “civil war history club + your location”) and branch out with sequential searches systematically, city by city, county by county, state by state, and so on, depending on how far you can reasonably travel offering to speak and give talks and lectures.
Advice to politicians about how to get more and better media coverage
A political staffer for a member of Congress asked me for advice on how to get more coverage and better coverage. Here’s what I recommended:
1. Stick with the important facts and keep it short and to the point. I know that’s hard for politicians, but that’s what media want.
2. Get rid of all pithy quotes and remarks, all self-laudatory praise, any tedious, boring and useless blather, and anything you can’t prove with the facts. Nail it with style, using the smallest tool needed every time.
3. Tackle controversy head on, state your position distinctively and with precision, but avoid partisan platform brown bag advocacy, being pedantic, winey, or argumentative. Express passion and emotion when it is called for, but don’t go overboard and rant and rave. Be aware for your previous positions and explain the reasons for any change of heart, position or direction.
4. Indicate the vehicles for people to send comments, express their opinion and to provide feedback and the express an active and sincere willingness to listen to the people. You may find that funny and scary, but it really does impress people.
5. Offer media what they need to do their job (factual validation, photos, Q & A’s, interview opportunities, and visual aids). Make it fit the format of the media you are working with and make it unique for them.
6. Offer media easy access to the people that matter but not intermediaries or to people who don’t matter. Make it easy not hard to do interviews and schedule news conferences frequently. Give media the lead time they need to schedule and deploy the resources needed to give you what you want. Media coverage is valuable so use it wisely and get good at it.
7. Target the media who matter. Identify the people who will be interested and affected and pitch and feed to the media that they watch, read or listen.