It’s a bit of a public relations-style take on the age-old “chicken-or-egg” dilemma: Companies want to be in the news – or, as we’ve heard, “on the front page of The Wall Street Journal.” At the same time, these same companies tell us that they don’t consider their company or leadership newsworthy; that is, they say they haven’t done anything that would be considered news. It’s our role to tell the company’s story, develop the perspectives of its leadership and earn reporter interviews despite a “lack of news.”
A company without news should allow us PR professionals to bring its perspective to reporters. Even if leaders don’t have recent news to share, they can still serve as a valuable resource to reporters.
Follow current news stories
We regularly read trade and national business media, paying close attention to stories that impact our clients. We help companies follow relevant beat reporters’ recent stories in a variety of ways – from periodically sharing these stories to compiling weekly industry-specific newsletters to monitoring their social media posts. It’s extremely important for a company’s leadership team to speak intelligently on the industry’s latest developments and trends.
Position leaders as subject matter experts
Reporters usually look to new sources for story ideas or commentary. If a reporter follows the same beat that your client has developed particular expertise, we’d bring the client’s perspective to the reporter and offer an introductory meeting. The end goal for these introductory meetings is to lead to a “call back.” That is, the reporter will remember the meeting and ask the subject matter expert to serve as a resource for future stories.
Engage in reporter courtship
Another way to develop a relationship with a reporter without a face-to-face meeting is for company leaders to read reporters’ stories and contact the reporter via email with a new perspective or supporting or dissenting opinion on the topic. They could also consider sharing the reporter’s story on social media with their unique perspective.
Use existing content
It’s been said time and time again: History repeats itself. The same goes for news. Perhaps a whitepaper written several years ago can be applied to a topic in the news. Or a company leader’s perspective on an industry’s evolution could be useful for a reporter’s trend story. Perhaps the news highlights yet another merger and acquisition. We recommend referencing already created content, updating the perspective as appropriate and approaching reporters with a unique point of view.
If companies follow the above practices, their leaders should have an opportunity to serve as a resource to reporters. It’s our role to continually search for stories, build clients’ perspectives and find reporters who would appreciate background on the topic or benefit from an overall perspective of the industry. You won’t need to wait until your company’s breaking news to earn another reporter interview (or choose between “team chicken” or “team egg”!).
About the Author
Kristin Ellertson is a public relations professional with nearly 10 years of agency experience, with a concentration in corporate communications. Her expertise includes program strategy, media relations, thought leadership and crisis communications. She has generated millions of impressions in top national, local and trade media for clients across a diverse set of industries, including management consulting, healthcare, public pensions, business-to-business technology and nonprofit organizations.