If you understand how positive news stories can contribute to positive business performance, then you should know that summer period offers you a unique media relations opportunity to increase your coverage and "free ink." Here's what you need to know to formulate a headline-generating PR strategy in July and August.
Customers and other stakeholders like doing business with winners and one marker of success is a positive news story with your name in it. In stark contrast to paid advertising, media consumers believe that news stories are objective and that translates into greater influence, better sales and improved public awareness.
We all know, however, that placing a story in media can be a challenge, depending on "newsworthiness" of your story pitch. Your pitch, whether it is a phone call to a reporter or a news release distributed by wire, will succeed or fail on your ability to offer journalists news they can use.
In summer months, however, news stories with lesser news value have a greater chance of success. Strong news stories will get better play or more prominent placement in media. Here's why:
• NEWSROOM STAFFING CHANGES: Like rest of us, experienced reporters, editors and producers take holidays over summer months. Also, most newsrooms take on student interns and replacement workers for vacationing employees.
What does this mean for placing stories? "Green" reporters, eager for their first bylines and credits, are often more approachable and open to story pitches than veteran beat reporters are.
• OVERALL NEWS VOLUMES DROP: While breaking news such as crime and accidents seem to generate a consistent stream of articles over year, there is generally less competition for non-breaking news such as features, trend stories, and special reports. For instance, governments are usually not in session, business deals tend to slow and special events are few in summer.
A story pitch that wouldn't get any attention in busy fall period, therefore, may be substantially more interesting to a journalist in summer simply because it conveniently fills "news hole." But it's never an easy sell to get your story placed, just easier in summer.
• THE POOL OF EXPERT COMMENTATORS SHRINKS: A very successful way that executives get into news is by providing "expert commentary." For example, if you are an investment executive, you may be able to explain shifts in stock market. If you work in health sector, you may be able to provide context regarding a new medical discovery. Reporters tend to rely on a stable of quotable experts and in summer, more than any other time of year, those experts are less available. If you are an expert, you should be introducing your credentials to reporter covering your sector.