No News is NOT Good News
I was recently discussing public relations (aka PR) with the VP of Communications of a company that has operations in several countries. She is trying to expand her company’s PR activities, and when I insisted that her team (or her PR company) needs to proactively maintain contact with their target journalists, editors and other influencers on at least a monthly basis with regular press releases, she asked her next question, “what if we don’t have any news?”
A company releasing new products, with subsidiaries and sales offices around the globe, in a multifaceted industry that has gazillions of possible news angles, must have news.
Basic components of a press release program should include items such as:
- New key personnel
- Establishing a new facility – R&D, manufacturing, distribution, etc.
- New product
- New customer win (emphasizing why they selected you)
- Partnership (what value will this bring to your customers)
What happens if the company doesn’t have any of these types of items to announce in a given month? Yay! We can do something even more interesting! Truth be told, it gets a little bit boring week in, week out, for journalists to see just news releases from the above list. In fact, even if you do have that kind of news, you should try to intersperse it with other types of news, just for variety’s sake.
There are lots of other legitimate things that can and should be announced publicly, since they show an ongoing chronology of business involvement, possibly even business leadership if the company can step out in front of an important issue. Here are some examples:
- Participation in, sponsorship of , or speaking at an industry event
- A company-run event that customers, partners and the press are invited to
- A contest the company is running (followed up later with a release about who won the contest and why)
- The company’s involvement in a human interest area (providing computers to an inner city school, helping more girls decide to study math, cleaning up a slum, etc.)
- Survey results or other proprietary data that your company has access to (more on that here)
- Content around the problem your products solve
- Comment on an issue happening in your industry
I want to focus a little more on the last two bullets in the second list. The chances of a journalist writing a feature-story on your great new product are fairly small, unless ‘new products’ is the specific beat that the journalist covers. But if you can write a press release about the industry problem this product happens to solve, giving perspectives from people who suffer from this problem, a quote from an industry expert about how this problem is just expected to grow, along with some ways people have tried to solve it, this doesn’t sound much like a product pitch any more, does it. It is starting to sound more like a feature story.
As for commenting on an issue happening in your industry, in order to do that you need to stay up to date on the things happening in your industry (duh 😉 ). I do that by aggregating all the relevant blogs and news sites into my RSS reader, and then flipping through the headlines on my phone whenever I have a spare few minutes. It might be while I’m waiting for my lunch to warm up, or waiting for someone to arrive to a meeting, or just when I need to take a small break. (I also download Dilbert cartoons onto my RSS feed, so if it’s really a break I need, there’s always something that will give me a smile.)
When you notice something important in the material you review regularly, or something that is getting a lot of coverage across multiple news sites, you should consider creating your own news release about it. It may be as simple as “[Company name] Supports Industry Efforts at [Whatever the industry issue is] by [What your company is doing – or plans to do – about it].
Not every outreach to a journalist needs to be on the basis of a press release. An email can be related to a blog post you published. A cool video you uploaded to YouTube. Or just something you wanted him or her to know. While you shouldn’t overwhelm them with garbage, you also shouldn’t hesitate to send something that might intrigue them, as a gentle reminder that your company is alive, breathing, and involved in the industry.
Don’t get off the journalists’ radar screen. Don’t go silent. In PR, no news is definitely NOT good news.
What are some creative ways you’ve found for keeping your company in the news?
Image credit: Flickr wili_hybrid (note The Boston Globe front & center – yay!)