Good PR is About Thinking — and Planning — Ahead
By Jenny Finke
It’s March. Everyone is talking about their NCAA brackets, spring break and St. Patty’s Day. If your company is just starting to talk about these things and pitch reporters stories related to these themes, you’re going to run into some trouble. That’s because most press are planning coverage in advance and you’re thinking only in the “now.”
I say “most” press because TV covers breaking news, and so do bloggers and newspaper reporters. But most of us don’t “pitch” breaking news. Breaking news just happens. Most companies and PR professionals are pitching for future stories that most wouldn’t categorize as “breaking” news.
So if you want to be successful at PR, you have to think and plan ahead.
What. A good planning tool is to create your own editorial calendar. To do this, look at the entire year ahead and plot out on a calendar what kinds of stories your company or product fits into. Consider everything, including major holidays (July 4, Thanksgiving and Christmas) and niche “holidays” like National Nutrition Month and Earth Day. Also consider events like the Super Bowl, Oscars, summer travel, back-to-school, etc. As you think about what’s up next, you can brainstorm a variety of ideas to work with. For example, if you make a natural peanut butter product, you could develop pitches related to National Nutrition Month, Earth Day and back-to-school (kids love those PB&J sandwiches!).
When. Once you’ve plotted the year in advance on your editorial calendar, next plan when you’ll send your pitch. For Earth Day, for example, you’ll want to pitch magazines 4-5 months prior to that issue’s date, but you’ll want to pitch bloggers, TV producers and newspaper reporters about a month in advance. If you’re doing an event on Earth Day and want a TV station to send a news crew, then you’ll want to send the planning desk a Media Alert or press release about two weeks in advance and then follow up with the news assignment desk the days leading up to the event. News stations work off very short lead times when it comes to covering events.
Who. Another way to plan ahead is to start thinking about who you will pitch your story to. If you have a natural peanut butter product, you may want to approach a local TV morning show producer and pitch an idea about how moms can create nutritional school lunches when back-to-school time hits. However, during Christmas, you might pitch several bloggers some of your favorite holiday cookie recipes (that incorporate your product, of course!). You’ll want to put together a rock-solid media list and determine who gets what pitch and when.
As you can see, a little planning goes a long way to ensure you stay on top of the news cycles and you’re not left out of the story. Good luck!
Jenny Finke owns Red Jeweled Media, a PR agency specializing in PR and marketing for small and mid-sized businesses. She also is the founder of HandleYourOwnPR.com, a DIY PR website that offers targeted media lists. Please find her online at www.RedJeweledMedia.com and www.HandleYourOwnPR.com.