I had coffee with an editor recently and we were discussing how the commercial real estate market seems to be showing true signs of improvement and that firms are busy, more optimistic and actually working on completing deals and projects.
This is great news and the details of these are exactly what publications are looking for as they fill the news pages. And yet, we also agreed, that firms typically do not know how to go about “getting press.”
I would like to flash back about 15 years to my days as an editor and give you a peek into my then-editor mind. While I proofed large film flats of the publications and marked up “bluelines” instead of digital reviews and PDFs that are used today, there are many simple, and yet essential, principles that hold as true today as they did when I hung out in a dark room developing the magazine photographs, dipping my hands in developer and stop bath.
The publication’s job is not to provide your firm publicity — by submitting press releases and pitching feature topics, you are informing the editor of potential news they can use. If there is an angle they want to pursue from your press release, they may use a part of your press release or cover the topic and not even mention your firm. This is the chance you take, however there are some easy ways to decrease these odds:
>> Be newsworthy: Every single transaction you do, every person you hire and every groundbreaking you have is NOT news to most editors. Face it, this is a big city and while they appreciate the information, they value knowing that you are discerning the relevancy of the information you are sending them. If an editor senses self-promotion over newsworthiness, that is a negative.
>> Be timely: Publications and editors/reporters like to report the news, not reflect on it. If it happened in the past it is simply less relevant. If it is significant but you missed their deadline, it is worthy of an email or a call to ask them their thoughts.
>> Be aware of deadlines: Know your publications and when the deadlines are. If an editor is on deadline, it is not the time to try to meet with them, keep them on the phone long or tarry when they call you requesting information for a story.
>> Editorial calendars: Most publications have editorial calendars that guide you in advance as to the topics they are going to be focusing on. Take the time to educate yourself and your firm on these topics and see how you can help the editor become aware of emerging trends, projects, unique aspects, etc. on that subject. You will get much more coverage by positioning your firm as the expert in that field than in trying to promote the firm directly.
>> Be accurate: If editors are going to use and run your information you must not have misspelled names, incorrect information and claim information as fact that is not confirmed. The editor’s job is to verify facts, yes, but they are working on deadlines daily/weekly/monthly and need to depend on sources. If there is a misspelling, for example, and that person contacts them to complain that they got it wrong, you are no longer a trusted source.
>> Be reasonable: When I was an editor, there was a man named Steve who called like clockwork the day the publication came out each month to yell at me for the press releases I didn’t run and wanted a full explanation as to why. Telling him that he sent me on average five a week and that I could not run all of his company happenings did not seem to suffice. Don’t be a Steve.
>> Think like an editor: If you provide relevant information, in the format that makes it easy for them and deliver it in their preferred method, you have made an editor your ally fairly easily. Follow these simple rules:
>> Embrace the AP Stylebook: This is the Bible for journalist, it is the reference book for writing in journalistic style. As simple as it seems, if you are writing in a similar style, they appreciate your efforts and are more receptive to the information being presented.
>> Take a lesson on writing a press release: Just because Word offers press release templates, this does not mean it’s written correctly. Know what a dateline is, a lead paragraph, proper end marks, objective tone, etc. This goes a long way because if your press release can truly be virtually cut and pasted into the publication versus rewriting, calling for missing or inaccurate information and generally cleaning up sloppy work, who do you think will get more press?
>> Got art?: If you have a photograph or table/chart, attach it. Publications are always looking for art. PS — don’t forget to give it a short sentence descriptor (a cutline) and credit the photographer.
>> Delivery: Contact the editor and ask them the best way for them to receive and hear of information. If it’s email, email it; social media, tweet it, etc. Whatever they prefer is what you want to do.
>> Format: Make sure the information sent electronically is easy to copy or edit, like a Word document and that the images are high resolution, generally 300 dpi is your best bet.
By putting yourself in the shoes of a typically overworked, underpaid editor, you can provide better news and more compelling information that will be better read and provide the greatest media benefit to your firm. If you have any comments or additional questions, please email me at Danielle@smallgiantsonline.com.