8 Tips to Help You Craft Effective Messaging for Your Business
A strategic message that gets the press writing about you today, could have been met with blank stares two years ago and may be obsolete next year. In developing your messaging to earn media placements and reach a broader customer base, remember that all messages have an expiration date. Here are 8 essential tips to increase the effectiveness of your messages and build relationships with the media to keep them writing about your company for years to come.
- Be newsworthy: Traditional media wants news releases and pitches to focus on actual newsworthy information – not marketing or promotional hype. However, tying your media outreach to something current, such as back-to-school season, awareness months/weeks/days, or other current events, will provide an additional hook to help the reporter build a news story.
- Secure credible sources for interviews: Reporters will want to interview the experts in your industry, but almost every news story can be improved by including the viewpoints of those directly affected by the topic at hand. Identify your official spokespeople, as well as any person immediately involved with your story.
- Compel your audience: Niche media, such as industry bloggers and podcasts, want newsworthy information. However, these media platforms also want your organization to connect with their target audience for the story to resonate. These outlets tend to prioritize the “human interest” angle, making stories compelling and relatable.
- Leverage relationships: Knowing your media landscape is essential. Do you have good relationships with certain reporters or editors? If not, adjust your focus to forming quality relationships with various people in the media industry. Building relationships with the media will benefit your business in the long run, and pitching a story to them first will likely result in faster success. Not only will it be successful, but also you may receive feedback on elements of the story the media is more or less interested in.
- Create a connection: If you haven’t formed those relationships yet, it’s never too late to start! Reporters receive story pitches all the time, and they’re less likely to respond to people reaching out to them without any prior contact. When sending a reporter an email pitch, be sure to customize it. Compliment them on a recent article, bring up that you both went to the same school, or mention any appropriate connection to build common ground. It is important to be authentic because no one is interested in forming fake, forced relationships.
- Do your homework: It’s often helpful to do a little research on a reporter or editor before you pitch to them to see how they approach their stories. Most reporters strive to be objective, but inherent biases are natural and should be taken into consideration before sending a pitch.
- Know your media: Be savvy about reporters’ needs and preferences, and always be sensitive to the fact that, at least for traditional media outlets, they’re working on extremely tight deadlines. Understand that reporters are not your friends — but they can be your allies if you help them.
- Be prepared: Some media outlets tend to “put their own spin” on a story, leading to unintended consequences for a company’s brand. Ensure key internal stakeholders like the CEO or VP of Communication are included in the news article’s discussion and planning. This is important if a reporter or editor has a controversial perspective on this story or has difficult follow-up questions (for example, wanting you to comment on a current controversial topic in the media). Being prepared for these scenarios is key to creating a clear message for your audience.