How To Get The Press Attention You Need
What if you held a press conference at your next trade show, and nobody came?
What went wrong? It may not be a case of lazy reporters who wouldn’t know a good news story if it reached out and grabbed them; it may just be that you didn’t give the press what they needed. To give them what they want, you’ve got to anticipate what their job is, and how you can make it easier (or more convenient) for them to include your company in their coverage.
One of the main problems with press conferences is too much show business, and not enough business—in other words, hype without real news. Here are some examples of why companies hold press conferences, and the problems with making them newsworthy.
• New product introductions: The word “new” is important here. If your widget is now available in a new color, that’s not newsworthy. If you’ve got an entirely new widget—or better yet, a widget that serves an entirely new purpose—then you’ve got a reason to hold a press conference.
• Major announcements: What makes these newsworthy is the significance of the announcement itself. A shift in corporate strategy, major changes in the executive suite or buyouts and mergers are worthy of press attention. The fact that you’ve changed your corporate colors is nice, but it’s nothing that will capture the press’s attention.
• Industry trends: If you’re entering a new market, exploring a niche market that hasn’t been tapped before, or you have something interesting to say about what’s hot and what’s not in your industry, let the press know.
Reporters stress that it’s not wise to hold a press conference if you have nothing of substance to communicate. If you do, they won’t pay attention next time, when you have something really significant to say. If you waste their valuable time with a press relations smoke screen, you’ll burn any of the bridges you’ve already built with the press.
When you do hold a press conference, get the person in your company who can intelligently discuss the topic, and answer reporters’ questions. That may mean you need more than one speaker. Consider enlisting upper management (the president or VP of marketing), along with technical experts (product managers or engineers), to cover all aspects of introducing your new product.
No matter what you have to say, keep it short. And if you’ve already got it in writing (in your press materials or press release, whether they’re printed or electronic), don’t repeat yourself at the press conference. Hold your conference at the convention center, where it’s convenient for the media to fit it into their schedules. By making your press conference part of the trade show itself (as opposed to a stand-alone event), you’ll benefit from the fact that the press is already there.
How do you create a press kit that the media will appreciate and make use of? Start with its physical properties: ink and paper or electronic? Your best bet is both. When you provide a folder with printed materials, as well as a disc or thumb drive with the same information, you give reporters a running start at looking at your materials and thinking up story ideas.
Without the printed pieces, they’ll have to wait until they’re back at their computers to read what you have to say. By then, they’ll have a stack of press kits to sift through, and yours may not get the attention you think it deserves.
What should your media kit include? Just the facts, please:
• One-page company bio sheet, including the corporate structure, executive staff organizational chart and sales figures
• Complete product information, covering product specifications, distribution methods and pricing
• Photos of products and executives
• Information on key contacts
How can you ensure that your media kit gets attention in the press room? If you’re a big company, you can get by with putting your logo on the cover. If you’re a smaller company or a start-up, you need to do a little more to get the attention of the media. Consider bright colors, photos, and creative headlines to capture the eyeballs of reporters.
Your media kit should be written in the active voice, in Associated Press style with short paragraphs, and in an inverted pyramid (putting the “who, what, where, when and why” details at the top of the story). Since your media kit recipients work for online services, magazines and newspapers, include both color and black and white photos. In short, the easier you make it for the reporter, the better your chances at getting the coverage you’re after.
What can you do in your exhibit to attract press attention? Make appointments with press representatives, then be prepared for those meetings. Make sure the right people (sales executive, PR manager, and product specialist) are on hand for these interviews. Nothing frustrates a reporter more than showing up for a meeting and having no one to interview.
It should also go without saying that your booth should be staffed with knowledgeable people, in case a reporter shows up unannounced. You never know when an opportunity will present itself, and you want your representatives to be able to field questions responsibly, as well as make introductions to the right people, when necessary.
Keep press kits and product literature in the booth for the same reason. Never tell a reporter you don’t have any literature for him or her at the time, but you’ll send something after the show. Your lack of preparedness will send that reporter in search of another company that’s ready to play now.
Finally, don’t try to pitch a story to a reporter without knowing what he or she wants. You’ll waste their time and alienate them, if you don’t qualify them the same way you would a good lead. Ask what the focus of their publication is, who their primary audience is, what kinds of stories they write and who they need to speak with.
If you do these things, you’ll supercharge your chances of getting press attention. The ones who don’t follow this advice are the companies you never read about in the press!
A great exhibit can help you tell your story to the media, just as it does to prospects. If your exhibit isn’t getting you the attention you want, maybe it’s time to spruce it up—or change it entirely. Let us help. Call us at (425) 556-9511 or email [email protected]