Getting our clients into their priority media is something we work hard to do everyday.
We do this by using a variety of tactics including: news releases, forward features, commentary opportunities, face-to-face and telephone interviews with journalists and placed articles/opinion pieces. With so many options available to us, it is important that we carefully select from these options to ensure we get the desired results.
News flow – generated by press releases – is a great way to ensure clients and brands are at the forefront of their key audiences’ minds. However, for many businesses, it can be tricky to schedule regular news and so it is important to ensure a blend of tactical activity and this includes researching what is coming up in future features.
According to Wikipedia, a feature is “a special human interest story or article that is not closely tied to a recent news event.” Essentially, these are pre-planned articles written by journalists, who then request commentary and input from leading industry figures. Having a mixture of spokespeople and therefore, perspectives, adds depth to the chosen topic.
Features provide a great opportunity to enhance and raise the profile of both a brand and key individuals within an organisation. By presenting spokespeople as industry experts it gives the reader a chance to see the ‘face behind the name’, as well as positioning the spokesperson alongside an industry issue.
The process of pitching for features is a notoriously difficult one. There are four key principles that we follow here at Westgate to ensure we maximise our success rate:
1. Timings and deadlines
This is very important to consider when pitching for a feature as it can change depending on the publication being targeted. We always ensure, by maintaining relationships with journalists, we know when deadlines are and when it is best to begin pitching. For example, many consumer titles are now focusing on Christmas features, which we are already aware of, whereas some accounting and business titles only work up to one month in advance.
2. The right spokesperson and topic
We have an in-depth understanding of our client’s commentary areas and key audiences, which means we are able to spend our time wisely when it comes to targeting the right media outlets and feature topic areas. We talk with the media to ascertain the angle being taken on a specific feature to ensure it is relevant before approaching our clients.
3. Setting up the opportunity
Identifying, pitching and securing a feature opportunity are all part of the feature opportunity process. Once we have identified a relevant feature, we liaise back and forth with a journalist, ensuring they have all the information they need (ranging from biography information on a spokesperson to background information about a business). Often we will organise a telephone interview and sometimes it can be a face-to-face interview.
We also work with our clients to ensure they have everything they need. For example, we might obtain questions from a journalist in advance of a telephone interview to allow our client to prepare or talk about the key areas that will resonate with the publications readership.
4. Working with the media
Building relationships with the media is critical for achieving targeted feature coverage for all clients. We have regular conversations with journalists to see what they are working on and to see if our clients can provide relevant information as and where necessary. Not all features are included on the formal lists, so by maintaining good relationships, we are able to generate additional coverage opportunities.
Here at Westgate, features are a very important part of our PR programmes, however, they are only one tactic that can be used. In order to achieve a successful PR programme, a whole blend of tactics must be used, and these all need to work in tandem in order to achieve the best results.