There are two basic ways to engage with journalists.
Firstly, when they are looking for comments from business owners to incorporate in the articles they are writing, and secondly when the business wants to connect with journalists for them to cover news that they want published.
For both, getting the timing right can materially improve the chance of being used by the journalist and getting a business brand profiled.
When a journalist is actually looking for a business comment this is the very best time to hook them. This needs a business either to use one of the online services that watches for such requests and makes businesses aware, or to be watching social feeds for requests being posted there, although this can be quite time consuming. Whichever route the key is to respond to the journalist as quickly as possible, even if they say that their deadline is not urgent. Once a journalist has identified a business, they will generally stop looking any further. In replying to a request, a business should refer to the request, give a short paragraph on why they believe their business is appropriate for the journalist, and give contact details, both email and mobile, so that they are easily accessible at the convenience of the journalist.
When the journalist is not actually looking for comments, the business has to work harder to be noticed, which means that the news story has to be compelling, but moreover the timing has to be right.
This has three elements.
- Ideally the story should have a connection with news that is, or is likely to be, trending in the media. In other words, it must be relevant in the eyes of the journalist. For example, the best time to be talking about family tourism initiatives would be at the start of school holidays.
- Anticipating when journalists will be planning future articles, such as Christmas gift guides. Preparation for these will, for example, be underway in September and October and press releases looking to be featured should be distributed then rather than waiting until December.
- Knowing the deadline days for target journalists. If individual journalists are being targeted, as opposed to distributing news broadly, then understanding and working to the journalist’s planning cycle is important. Weekend journalists will be wanting to have most of their columns planned, if not written by Tuesday or Wednesday for example, so news distributions by noon on Tuesdays will have a much better chance of pick up than releases on a Friday.
There are online PR services available to help businesses both with timing and content creation, as well as connecting businesses to journalists when they are looking for comment.
Greater Manchester Chamber partners with JournoLink to provide members with access to the PR platform built specifically for small and medium businesses.
For details email firstname.lastname@example.org