What makes a good PR story?
Clients regularly ask us, what makes a good B2B PR story? It’s a question we have blogged about before, but we thought it was a good opportunity to revisit this as it’s relevant to so many B2B businesses.
First things first, you need to ask yourself: Did the story happen recently? (ie in the last couple of days, weeks or months?) Getting the timing right is essential. If it’s a story about an event that you exhibited at a month ago or an MP visit that was two weeks ago, you may have lost the interest of the local media. However, with the trade press and their longer lead times, it may still be interesting to them. The rule of thumb is get the press release ready and approved before the event and send it out as soon as you can afterwards, to ensure the best chance of success.
Secondly, consider very carefully is it something that a particular magazine would run? If you’re not sure, buy or subscribe to the newspaper or magazine, take a look at the business section and what type of stories they do actually cover. Are there any that sound similar to yours? Human interest stories are well picked up in the local press and more serious business stories in the regional and national press, but the opposite can also be true too!
Also, common sense will tell you that product stories are not interesting to local press. Most people will understand this. For example, if it’s a story about a new plumbing tool it could be very relevant to a magazine such as PHAM News, but of far less interest to a regional or national newspaper and would only annoy them so don’t waste the effort!
With corporate news stories and product stories, you have to accept these days that many trade magazines will see them as commercial stories and will ask you for a colour separation budget (particularly in the construction trade press). This covers the cost of running a colour photo with the story, which is a way that the magazines can leverage cash to continue publishing their magazine. Be prepared for this and don’t automatically dismiss a magazine. Costs usually range from £90 to £150.
Once you have decided a story is newsworthy and ticks the majority or all of the above boxes, then here are our three tips for getting the best out of your B2B PR story:
- Follow all the rules for a great press release.
It needs a stand-out headline, plus a powerful first sentence which explains, the who, what, when clearly…
Include a quote from the company, which is relevant to the subject of the press release. This might sound obvious but it is surprising how some people use a quote which is nothing to do with the story, but more trying to big them or the company up, which the editors will see as being too commercial.
- Use a strong, relevant subject to the email
Editors are really busy and often won’t read beyond the subject of the email. Don’t call the editor to discuss a press release or story unless it is BIG news – they won’t thank you for wasting their time on a story that really isn’t suitable for their publication. If it is, they will call you if they need more information.
Remember for local/regional media you should use the town or city in the subject header to increase the chance of it being used.
- Offer an exclusive
If it is a construction story, for example, it may be about a new contract a company has won or successfully delivered then it can work well to offer it to a leading construction title as an exclusive, first, giving them a couple of days grace to run the story.
If you have a manufacturing story and it’s about a new innovation, then why not ask the editor if they would like to run an exclusive interview with the company’s technical manager or Managing Director.
It could be worth asking the magazine for a list of questions they may like to discuss, beforehand, so you can get some responses ready. It can also work well when to run it as a Q&A article, which are very readable and well received by readers.
- Include a good quality photo
Make sure you send a quality photograph. If it’s for local or regional press, you need to send a people photo. For trade press, a people and factory, or people in situ shot works well.
Attach a photograph to the email when it is sent out to the editors, but get the sizing right. Don’t send a photo above 2mgb and below 1mgb (unless it’s purely for online purposes)
- Get the timing right
Check the magazine or newspaper’s deadline before you send out the story. If they go to press on Weds lunchtime, then sending them the story on Weds morning could be too late. The same with magazines, they usually work to mid-month or end of month deadlines, so send them the story well in advance of their deadlines. Similarly, if an important story is on its way but not quite ready, but the deadline is coming up, just let them know.
If it’s a b2b story that you would like to get covered in the national business magazines or national newspapers then it is very important that it is carefully tailored to a) the editor b) their audience c) and make sure they get the exclusive. Make sure you draft a personalised email and have checked out the editor’s credentials on a media system, like Mediagility (which we use) before you start.
Don’t add the story to your own news pages for at least a week (extend this to 1-2 months if it’s a trade magazine), the newspapers in particular will ignore a story that they have seen appear elsewhere, particularly if it’s on your own company website.
Send out news stories to your main local regional daily or weekly publications first before the online publications. By holding it back a day or two from the purely online publications, you can give the printed press at least a couple of days to get it covered in print, before it appears online.
Don’t expect editors to let you know when a story is going to run. Sometimes editors/reporters will come back with a couple of questions and some may even send you a link to the story when it appears, but they are busy people and can’t be expected to let you know.
- Ask for a backlink
Backlinks are very important in enhancing a company’s Google ranking and overall site performance. If the publication gets back to you, then it could be worth requesting a backlink, although some do charge for this, so consider if it is a worthwhile publication.
Try connecting with the editor on Linkedin and some allow you to follow them on Twitter. We have had particular success with contacting journalists on Linkedin and Twitter when it comes to inviting them to events.
We hope these tips and advice have been useful in helping you to secure even more success in the media. We understand how time consuming it can be to generate media or web content – and we’re the experts at this!
In the meantime, have a very Merry Christmas and we look forward to working with you in the New Year. We are still open on the pre-Christmas week and things aren’t quite as busy, so please drop us an email and we can arrange an introductory call to discuss your requirements, or send us brief details and we will respond on firstname.lastname@example.org.