Bringing B2B tech to the nationals can be a struggle. It’s hard for mainstream news consumers to realise the impact of B2B on their lives, requiring PR’s to work creatively and cleverly to secure the ‘creme de la creme’ of coverage.
Although there’s no perfect answer on ‘nailing the nationals’, there are still a few key steps PRs can follow in their quest to reach this ‘promised-land’.
‘Your friendly neighbourhood PR’
The industry runs on a cycle of PR-journalist symbiosis, as much as journalists might object to; PRs have more press-making power than assumed. PRs need to know how to befriend, and speak to journalists in a manner that reinforces this mutual reliance on each other, enabling the functioning of a successful news cycle.
A PR pet-peeve is the ‘cold call’. Journalists won’t take time out of their hectic day to have a conversation irrelevant to their beat. It makes no sense to do constant call-downs, when all is required is consistent reputation-building, sending journalists the right news at the right time. This builds respect and rapport- next time a journalist sees you in their inbox, it’s more likely they’ll react. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional phone call to journalists who enjoy a chat, still being a great way to bond, however, most feedback is that journalists prefer sticking to the speedy reliable email, or trusted Twitter DM. It’s a matter of coming across as a ‘friend’ to journalists, ‘helping’ them make the news.
Continuing the conversation
Once initial contact is made, continuing the conversation is crucial when landing national coverage. Journalists will be rammed with emails backing up their inboxes, so the friendly ‘catch-up thread’ is a gamechanger to grab attention. If an opportunity has already landed, with either reciprocated interaction or coverage itself, there’s nothing stopping you hopping back on that original thread with a new concept or news story update. This just plays back into how to prove your work is worth their while.
PRs should never be fearful of persistence either. It’s known journalists are bombarded with other PRs competing against you to get their clients coverage, so why not make yourself stand out from the crowd? Standing out not only comes from the (hopefully) worthy news itself, but the passion behind it, illustrated in enthusiastic persistence.
Creativity is key
Grabbing attention requires creativity. There’s no fog-horn to sound your news, meaning getting creative with ideas has to be loud enough. In B2B, those reading major papers don’t tend to know or want to read about technological jargon. Applying a clients’ technology to an easily understood conversation in wider society is the only way to make it into national news. This requires a huge amount of understanding the clients’ messaging, and having fun in creating a connection it might have to something the ‘everyday Joe’ wants to read about.
Understanding B2B offerings is a requirement for this to happen. With this, comes the close connections you must build with not only the journalists, but the SMEs at the company you represent. Having willing spokespeople to push company messaging in layman’s terms is needed to enable flourishing creativity.
Concerns of rejection in PR have to go. If an idea is left to fly, it can reach incredible heights. Fears of ideas being ‘too far fetched’ have to also go- so long as it’s still relevant and justifiable to the journalist. As soon as an idea or news story appears, don’t be afraid to reach out to media friendlies, or further afield to new contacts. PR is about pushing those boundaries as often as possible in response to the newscycle- no single day will ever be the same.
For example, who would have thought about applying B2B real-time data software into a conversation about tracking asteroids hurtling towards earth? That could grab the attention of any Daily Mail reader. Having a slightly ‘clickbait’ creative idea, SME buy-in with briefing preparation, and impeccable knowledge of the newscycle, is the perfect recipe to landing national coverage.
Breaking and making news
In tech PR, if you never read or stay up to date with breaking news, there’s something very wrong. Without knowing exactly what’s going on, and more critically, when, there’s no way national coverage will land. This can come in the form of a ‘trendjack’. Being able to nail this form of PR proactive outreach once again comes down to the knowledge of the client, and the knowledge of the news itself. Having comments ready at hand, or spokespeople willing to speak as soon as the news breaks, is where the real magic happens.
Reacting as soon as, or ideally, pre-emptively is needed. A PR must both react to news, but also break it themselves. This comes from knowing the right places to keep track of what’s happening, and spotting it before the journalists themselves do. Being the first of a flurry of other PRs attempting to land comments in a national is the only way – you’ve got to be speedy, savvy and know how to write a superbly succinct pitch with a striking subject line that will sway any national journalist’s attention.