Branding Your Company With the Press

You never know where you’re going to learn something new about the Internet. First it was Internet inventor Al Gore. Now it’s Bob Dylan.

Concerning the availability of a new Dylan song as a web download, the VP of Online and Emerging Technologies at Columbia Records was quoted as follows in a recent press release (italics are mine):

” . . . The song is a great example of Bob Dylan’s abiding poetic vision while its online availability testifies to the legitimacy and potency of the Internet.

Silly me… all this time I thought the legitimacy and potency of the Internet was testified to by things like the multibillion-dollar market caps for companies bleeding red ink and Jack Welch’s 100 percent e-business commitment for GE.

Sure glad I read press releases.

Now my point is not to slam Bob Dylan. No. It’s to talk about how to handle press relations online so that you avoid this sort of miserable, un-credible claptrap.

Reaching the PR Marketplace

Let’s start with a basic premise: PR is a marketing discipline.

A market is a group of people with common characteristics and a common problem to solve. Marketing is the process of identifying those characteristics, developing a solution to the problem, and then reaching out to that group with that solution.

The PR marketplace is made up of reporters and editors (not civilians like you and me) that’s the common characteristic.

Now, what problem does the press have that PR needs to solve? (Hint, it’s not a failure to get enough press releases.)

The problem that this marketplace needs solved is easy access to organized, relevant, credible and timely news and information. (Apply that definition to the excerpt I quoted above and tell me what you think.)

Now ask yourself: What does your web site do to solve this problem for this group? If your press area, like most, is a burial ground for press releases and little more, you’re not doing the job you should be doing for your marketplace. And if you’re not doing your job, you’re not getting the ink you should be.

What do I recommend? See if these ideas can fill up some column inches for you.

Identify Them

There is no better opportunity for developing a real “marketplace of one” than with the press. There are so few of them you have to deal with to begin with. It’s a matter of outreach at the start; ask them what they need from you.

For instance, some will want PR text delivered in the body of an email while others will want it as an attachment. Some will want a spot where they can come and peruse new information while others will want you to push it to them. But you won’t know until you ask.

Once you do find out, create a site area that caters exclusively to each editor and reporter by name (maybe with passwords). Populate it with thoughtful and targeted information. Then, each person from each of the periodicals online and off that covers you can retrieve information that is useful to them, targeted to them and responsive to their specific requirements.

Understand Them

Every reporter and editor brings different interests and focus points, even from the same magazine. One reporter might cover markets from a financial side, another from a product view, and a third from a human interest perspective. Yet most companies and certainly most web sites distribute press releases as if everyone were the same. Find out which editors and reporters need to track which aspects of the market, industry and business landscape they cover. And present them information that feeds those needs.

Inform Them

The business press is continually seeking to better understand the markets they cover. They can’t be everywhere at once. You should make an effort to provide them with the kind of information they need to follow where the market is going, watch trends, make decisions and follow leads. Are you a Gartner or NFO subscriber? Let your press marketplace know what you learn from those sources.

Empower Them

Finally, remember it’s not just content that’s at issue here, it’s ease of access. You need to make everything as easy for your marketplace as possible.

When they come to your media center, have things organized for them. Don’t present them with a list of press releases stretching back three years. Categorize your information, provide them good summaries of what the contents are piece-by-piece, help them understand how the information might be useful to them, how current it is, who is quoted in it… make things easy for them.

It’s that ease of access that does the best job of branding your company with your press marketplace. And that branding is key to being in their mind when they research or write a story that could perhaps should involve you.

It’s that branding that gets your name in the paper.

Related reading

Overhead view of a row of four business people interviewing a young male applicant.