A prospective client approached our team at Rally Point not long ago, complaining about his agency’s lack of quality press placements. The company had a ton of interesting news and insight to share, and should easily have been placed on the merit of its offering and the expertise of its spokespersons.
Yet for months, outreach to hundreds of reporters failed to yield even a single meaningful nibble.
What To Do When There’s A Lack Of Results?
There were several impediments to the agency’s approach. The first was a relatively common problem. For one thing, they hadn’t taken the time to update the messaging the company was using to tell its story. Nor did it have sufficiently talented writers to draft impactful content and releases.
It is true that polishing a company’s messaging and creating content that sizzles requires specialized skill. But where the agency missed the mark had more to do with its process than the quality of its deliverables.
The agency was throwing press releases over the wires and blasting hundreds of journalists without qualifying their interest. This blitzkrieg approach certainly was time-efficient: hit the send button to reach scores of recipients at once. But because the agency was prioritizing quantity over quality, not a single top-tier outlet covered the company.
Know Your Targets
Excellent PR requires excellent perspective-taking. This entails taking the time to anticipate the mindset of reporters who are most likely to care about the client and its news. The rewards for reverse-engineering a well-targeted list of influential journalists who are most likely to care are manifold.
Among them, the outreach effort yields better response rates and placement results. It’s more of a Swiss Army knife than a butter knife approach to carving up the list of press targets. It means taking the time to carefully research which journalists have covered similar companies, related trends, and topics.
At Rally Point, one of the most valuable tasks we undertake to maximize results is we continually update our curated list of global press contacts, searching by keywords to identify journalists who are covering a given topic, competitor, and the like.
We matchmake clients with journalists who are most likely to welcome the introduction, and we get to know them. We approach these journalists individually to set up briefings or to offer commentary when we learn the reporter is planning to cover a topic on which our client can opine.
Before the interview, we create a briefing document for the client, profiling the publication, reporter and his or her recent relevant clips. Armed with this insight, the client can anticipate the line of questioning a reporter may be likely or planning to ask. We bridge the interest of the journalist with the offering and insights of the client. This helps the journalist tell his or her story from a freshly informed perspective, increasing the likelihood that they will cover the client. So it’s a win-win all around.
And yet we all too often hear about agencies on autopilot, agencies that draft poorly written pitches and press releases, and then indiscriminately issue announcements over the wire.
That’s not to say there’s no role for wide dissemination of some announcements. Supplementing an agency’s outreach to its curated press list with broad wire distribution can extend reach and readership while lending itself to search engine optimization (SEO).
Research, research, research
But to maximize results, especially in noisy segments like fintech and cryptoassets, the most effective PR strategy is to thoughtfully approach and cultivate reporters who’ve shown interest in the topic at hand. Researching a journalist’s perspective before the pitch and interview takes time.
But it is far more effective at establishing a client as a go-to source of insight. Even if a reporter doesn’t end up filing a story after an interview, they will appreciate the care taken to consider their interest, and will thus be more inclined to consider the firm for future opportunities.
When searching for an agency, consider asking how they maintain their media lists and who they’re likely to approach. If you’re far enough along in the process, you may also have a chance to speak with your designated account team. Ask them to walk you through media hits they’re most proud of and why. This will give you good insight into the team and its hustle.