This wasn’t a media training session to improve their interview techniques. This was a media relations course, the aim of which was to help them raise their profile in the media.
One of the first questions I always ask in these sessions is where they want coverage – is it national newspapers, TV and radio, local papers or trade press?
Because if you don’t know where you want your coverage to be targeted, then you’re unlikely to be able to come up with the right kind of stories for that particular media outlet.
Given the nature of their business and their clientele (B2B), their main aim was to increase coverage in the trade press.
But, rather astonishingly, they didn’t know the names of any of their key publications in their field, or their client-base.
How to improve your trade press PR
Drawing up a list of those publications, along with the names of the key contacts was number one on their ‘To do’ list by the end of the session.
At the risk of teaching people to suck eggs, the first step to drawing up such a list is to look online. Every publication worth its salt is going to have a website, and somewhere (generally deep within it) you’ll find the names of the editorial team.
You’ll probably need the names of the editor, news editor and features editor, though some magazines may not have all of these. The website Media UK has listings of all UK radio, TV, newspapers and magazines, and a quick search there will find you the contact details of everything from Star Trek Monthly to the Kent County Magazine to Choir and Organ magazine.
Once you’ve got the details of your chosen media, you then need to study it in depth.
Study your target media
Take your top two or three potential publications to start with and look at both the website and a hard copy.
• What types of stories do they feature?
• Are there any regular pages such as ‘industry news’ or ‘interview of the month’?
• Are there any columnists with regular features?
• Do they run profiles of businesses or business people?
• Do they have guest contributors?
So, take for example, the well known and well respected specialist magazine like The Engineer.
Online, it has a news section, a regular interview slot, in depth analysis and features, one of which is entitled ‘The Big Story’, an opinion column which features pieces by industry experts, and a blog which includes guest contributors.
All of which provide opportunities for coverage if you’re an engineering organisation such as the Institution of Civil Engineers, an engineering consultant or engineering business.
What stories should you pitch?
Only when you’re armed with that information, it is possible to start to working out the types of stories from your business or organisation that you should be pitching to that magazine.
In my experience, most specialist journalists really know their stuff, and will recognise quickly what stories will make the grade and which won’t.
They are also very open to being pitched story ideas and to finding new sources and experts to interview.
One key, as well as knowing the type of stories that a magazine covers, is to know the ‘lead times’. All magazine will have a deadline by when each page has to be completed – and these will differ depending on the frequency of the magazine and its editorial policies.
You need to make sure you get your ideas to the editorial team in time for them to meet that deadline.
You’ll also find that many specialist magazines publish in advance the topics they’re going to be covering for six months, or even a year in advance, giving you the opportunity to contribute ideas in specific areas.
Once you’ve laid the groundwork, then all that remains is to come up with some brilliant ideas and to contact the relevant journalists at the relevant magazines to pitch them.
If you have news stories to pitch, the best format is still via a press release, which should be emailed in and then call to follow up.
If you’ve got ideas for features, I’d suggest an initial call or email to the editor or relevant journalists to introduce yourself and give your credentials. Ask them if they’re interested in story ideas, give a couple as a taster and email more details if they are.
So get analysing, get targeting, get brainstorming, get writing and watch your profile rise.
If you’d like advice and support on how to improve your trade press pr, then give us a call on 020 8 332 6200 or email on email@example.com.