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Tips from the inside: Public relations messaging for your business

Tips from the inside: Public relations messaging for your business

March 3, 2020 | By Chandler Downs

How local media suggests you work with local media

You have a message.

A press release, product launch, mission statement, event notification. You know how to use your owned properties to share this content, but how does local media suggest pitching your content to local media? What routes can you take if your story isn’t covered? How has the PR landscape evolved and what does that mean for your business?

This February, our monthly Lunch and Learn advertising series focused on the evolution of public relations.

Lynn Jacobson, deputy managing editor for The Seattle Times, revealed insider tips for pitching your content to newsrooms.

First – get to know your news outlet.

“When you read our pages, you get to know the kind of content we do and don’t produce, and consequently, how to tailor your pitches.”

On seattletimes.com, you’ll find a good indication of what our readers value: LOCAL. They value news that helps them navigate the Northwest, make the most of time and money, and learn something.

Lynn suggests you get to know who covers your world and build relationships with local editors and reporters. Create a relationship that is beyond transactional. Check in to offer expertise or storylines related to current events, rather than solely pitching stories about your products and services. But it’s important to set appropriate expectations regarding response rates or you could be left disappointed. Editors can get upwards of 300 emails per day. Just because they don’t answer you doesn’t mean they won’t come to you when they need something. It is worthwhile to ask your editor about their communications preferences and help them prioritize.

Remember that good stories focus on people, not institutions or products. They illuminate trends or relate to news and capture a moment in time. Ideally, a good story will make readers smarter about their corner of the world.

But what if your story isn’t picked up?

When this happens, utilizing branded content provides you with an opportunity to control your narrative and still reach this key local audience (and beyond).

So, what is branded content?

Seattle Times Media Solutions defines branded content as a marketing tactic paid for by a client who participates as a part of the content, helps supply the content or sponsors content that is distributed through our platform (The Branded Content Project).

Investments into branded content are expected to double by 2021 (The Drum, 2017). How we experience brands is evolving due to our expectations and habits, and the investment in this tactic is growing at a rapid rate to meet this demand. This is especially true in Seattle, where our community is filled with responsible consumers who have choices. It is up to brands and marketers to differentiate themselves through content, and it is important to create content that your audience remembers. IPG media lab study found that consumers are 14% more likely to seek out additional content from an advertiser after being exposed to branded content. Have you ever searched a brand after hearing their founder on a podcast or being exposed to a powerful explainer video? If the content is engaging, your audience wants more!

Branded content drives search traffic? Yes! And it should be a key part of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy too. Google rewards relevancy, and if your website is filled with relevant and valuable content for your target consumer, you are setting it up to be front and center when your customer needs you most, as well as reinforcing their decision to choose you. All while solidifying your mission and expertise along the way.

Ok, but why partner with a premium publisher for your branded content campaign?

Content on your own site? Check. But how do you find audiences and speak to those who haven’t already shown interest in your brand or may not be aware of your offerings, mission or expertise?

Cobranding your content with a premium publisher gives you the advantage of leaning on the credibility of a trusted voice. Local publishers are both community influencers and expert storytellers, so who better to assist you in your strategy than those who do it best and do it daily? Brands see a 25-55% increase in performance when their content is posted by a premium publisher versus their own brand (Pressboard Media, 2019).

When your content is published on a publisher’s site, you can take advantage of their relevancy and a greater ability to rank in search results thanks to the domain authority score of a premium publisher. This means your content will appear higher on the page for those who are searching for similar content.

When working with a publisher to craft your branded content strategy, you want to focus on the reader.

Start by asking, who is your reader? What do they need or want? What expertise or knowledge is your business able to offer that meets that need or want? And remember, a story that is engaging on your website likely won’t perform as well away from your site. When producing content for a general website, it’s important to re-cast the information to meet the needs and expectations of the self-interested reader.

As the PR landscape evolves, so does the way you tell your story. Reach out to newsrooms, consider branded content and remember that your owned and organic content is important. Each content strategy should have different goals and performance metrics, but each is important, valuable and necessary.


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