Nov 10, 2010 3:41 PM, By Don Kreski
How to work with the press to build your reputation and sales.
“When I was an editor,” Mayfield says, “photography was always on the top of my list.” Very few publications have the budget to shoot their own photos these days. “You need well-lit, high-resolution images that show what you’re trying to explain or promote.” (Read more photography tips.)
Mayfield suggests that most AV trades are looking for case studies and business ideas from integrators, and product news and technology overviews from manufacturers. “Most editors think they have a broader view and tend to write stories about market and technology trends themselves,” he adds. “On the other hand, if you’ve done some research that you’re willing to share, you can usually find editors interested in publishing it. Stories like that can build your image as someone who understands the market.”
Editors of magazines serving other fields—education, law, banking, real estate, and so on—are much less cognizant of what AV can do for their readers. “That’s an opportunity and an obstacle,” Mayfield says. “They are less likely to listen to your story idea, but if you can show them how it will benefit their readers, you will have a unique opportunity to highlight your services to that market.”
Approaching the media
Approaching an editor is a lot like approaching a potential customer. You want to establish a friendly, long-term professional relationship based on mutual respect and mutual profit. As with your customers, you need to understand the editors’ needs and respect them. You need to keep your promises, tell the truth, and respect their deadlines.
“Editors can tell right away which PR people get it and which do not,” Lange says, “so I always make time to listen to the good ones, the ones who know how to put themselves in my shoes. For those PR folks who don’t get it—for those I’ve had to chase in the past for background information, an interview, or for magazine-quality photography—well, I let’s just say I proceed with caution.”
“Know who does what at each publication,” Mayfield suggests. For trade magazines, the editor or managing editor is often the best person to approach, but for newspapers, business journals, and consumer magazines, you will need to learn which reporters cover relevant beats.
Once you have an idea for a story, send a press release, story proposal, or finished article to an editor or reporter first through email, but as with any sale, follow up by telephone.
Press releases are most appropriate for news items such as new product announcements, seminars, events, or personnel changes. Because you send them in large numbers, editors know that if they pick them up, it’s likely that competing publications will do the same. “Most often, I would use releases about finished projects only if they fit into some other story I was working on,” Mayfield says.
Story proposals are more appropriate for a project profile or a feature story. You need to offer them on an exclusive basis, promising that you will not approach any other publication going to the same readers, at least until the piece has been published. Some publicists will pitch similar stories to magazines in different fields. Some will repackage an exclusive story as a press release after its original publication to try to get some additional coverage.
Once the article has been published, secure reprints, a .pdf copy, or a link to the online edition for your website. A reprint, given to a prospective client when he or she is making a buying decision, can be more valuable than the original placement.
Success with the media requires an investment either of your time or the services of a publicist or PR firm. If you approach it thoughtfully, you will find publicity can be a valuable addition to your marketing mix.
Don Kreski is the president of Kreski Marketing Consultants, which offers marketing services to the AV industry. You can reach him at www.kreski.com/contact.html.
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