I launched TheRankTank.com just under a year ago with my business partner. We both had significant experience in client-side Marketing, but when you have responsibility for generating PR for brands such as the BBC and British Airways, it's very easy to assume that the press coverage could have been secured by whoever was sitting in your seat making the phone call to the publication in question. After all, surely it’s the brand that’s of interest not the messenger? Well we’re inclined to think that’s pretty accurate.
So when it comes to securing press coverage for an unknown brand that’s been in existence less than a year, how on earth did we go about creating coverage across the likes of The Sunday Mirror, Cosmopolitan, MSN, Red Magazine, Zoo, Shortlist & Woman’s Own amongst others?
Journalists aren’t interested in promoting your company
This is a huge mistake that we think many brands make. Journalists are interested in informing, entertaining and educating their readers. When we launched TheRankTank.com we fell into the trap of sending out mass-market press releases telling the whole world and his wife how amazing our site was, and then got frustrated when it transpired that not every journalist in the UK deemed it worthy of a front-page splash. You need to focus on helping journalists do their job.
As soon as we altered our approach then the coverage started to appear. We contacted one publication in November and asked them if they’d be interested in an article about the best toys to stop children crying on Christmas day. We drafted the copy in the same style as the journalists’ other articles and made sure we gave a unique and interesting angle that would appeal to their group of reader’s. You need to help journalists solve problems and do their job, not persuade them to promote your website.
Success breeds success
Once we’d secured coverage in a couple of well-known publications, then we would approach other publications with potential stories, whilst mentioning that we’d been featured elsewhere. Credibility is vital, and this goes some way to boosting it for you. Journalists start to think, “Oh, if they’ve been featured on our rival’s pages, are we not missing out on something?”.
Consider their needs not yours
It’s easy to think, “Ah, it’s Christmas – let’s wang out a press release with Christmas offers and see what sticks”. Wrong. Very wrong. So-called long-lead publications such as monthly glossies will already be collating their articles for their Christmas edition. Yep, it’s now September and we like to think it’s still Summer but these guys have got their heads down and are writing about snowdomes, tinsel and the latest must-have Christmas presents. This means that for any given day you could be contacting certain journalists about Christmas articles and other journalists, such as those at daily newspapers, about end-of-Summer Sales. Think about them not you.
It’s hard trying to secure initial coverage. We’re not going to lie about that. So when you first manage it, take time to develop a relationship with the journalist in question. They obviously believe in your brand sufficiently to feature you in their hallowed pages so keep in contact. They’re super-busy people and it could easily slip their mind that you even exist. A cardinal sin would be to just add them to your distribution list and just go back to flinging stuff into their inbox. Communicate with them. What’s their next article? Can you help with it? Do any of their colleagues need a hand with anything? Can you offer them a quote to help your credibility and position you as more of an expert in your field?
When you’re getting down in the dumps that your coverage is drying up (we’ve been there with TheRankTank too), just head down to your local newsagent and have a look at the shelf of printed papers and magazines. All of those need filling with content on either a daily, weekly or fortnightly basis. Journalists are crying out for high quality information, products and services to talk about. And then remind yourself that you’re just looking at printed publications, beyond which there’s an even bigger world of online content.