How many times have you been approached by a potential client or a member of the management team who wants a guarantee that you can get them into a top tier national newspaper like The Financial Times?
Sadly often the number of requests are far higher than the amount of really high-quality news offered by the person who is making the request.
The new financial year has begun, so like many PR agencies, we’re currently being asked by a number of would-be clients if we can confirm that we will definitely get them into The Financial Times or on BBC News. Now a package, contract or retainer that says we will get clients into specific internationally renowned top-tier publications is quite simply crazy, unless of course your organisation is huge and well-known and already appears in the publications in question. While we can say that, with the right story, there is a strong chance of getting a mention or story in relevant media titles, coverage is never a guarantee. Don’t get me wrong, we have secured coverage in these places, but it’s not an everyday occurrence.
Determining that coverage in the FT is actually what your client (external or internal) needs to meet their business objectives is a good starting point. More often than not, clients are attracted to the FT as it is a high-level publication read by millions, but most of its audience are financial professionals or those interested in the money side of things. So, if your client designs and develops coffee machines then will being mentioned in the FT help them sell more of those, or not? Getting your client’s new Star Trek-ready coffee machine into somewhere like the Daily Mail might serve them better. If you are releasing a new ERP, wouldn’t a technical publication be a better fit? I would start your FT-targeting-rationale by building a media list and seeing how FT readers fit with your business objectives.
However, if you’ve definitely decided that the FT is where your client wants – and needs – to be, how do you go about it? We’ve asked a few journalists what they thought clients need to do to get coverage in a top tier national like the FT. Here are our key takeaways from what they said, for you to put to good use:
- Read the FT
First thing’s first, have you read the FT and seen what types of news stories it covers? If not, do this NOW. Not only will you become educated in what stories the FT runs, but you can also determine if your client being mentioned in that media will be useful or not. Reading the FT will also give you an insight into which journalists might be best to approach with different stories. Learn who covers which beat and understand what kind of stories they do, to avoid pitching them anything that’s not relevant. Check out the About Us page too as it will have a one-liner that details the FT’s mission statement, so you can offer it news that matches what it is interested in or wants to achieve.
- Have a great story
Secondly, and equally important, is to ensure that your client has a great, and relevant, story to pitch. Getting into the FT is the same as with any other top tier media. Make sure that your client really does have something interesting and relevant to say.
All too often prospects are armed with a low-quality press release that they think is the best news in the world. If the release is bad, let your client know that it needs to be better to get into the FT.
Our suggestions for releases that might (never will as, like we’ve already said, coverage is never guaranteed!) cut the mustard are ones that talk about something really innovative that your client is doing that matters to millions of people or resolves an industry challenge, or includes top-ranking partnerships or has substantial funding or offers a unique point of view from a well-established and known brand on a hot topic. Money is important, so think financials too. We are talking millions not thousands. Again see point 1 and you will understand what the FT likes.
- Use real case studies where a major change was experienced
Quotes are important, and not just generic waffle like X company is “delighted to be working with Y client”, “launching a new product/service” or “opening an office in Birmingham”. Case studies are a good example of non-generic quotes as they are essentially a testament from your client’s clients. By provided an interesting, topical case study with tangible financial outcomes about a multi-national publicly traded company that is willing to put a C-level spokesperson forward, you are giving the FT everything it needs to consider your client’s news.
- Offer exclusivity
Offering news on an exclusive basis is also a good idea as most media want first bite of the cherry – or to be the only media that has the story. Some media have strict policies around only accepting news, interviews, articles etc on a 100% exclusive basis while others have slightly less rigid policies and only require exclusivity for a short period of time. Check out the FT’s exclusivity policy before you offer any news or interviews on an exclusive basis – particularly if your client wants you to also secure coverage in other media titles. The FT produces a lot of supplements/special sections, so track those and if you are able to offer content, offer it exclusively for these supplements.
- Get coverage elsewhere
Don’t focus only on the FT either as building credibility through other publications will raise awareness of your client. If your client has been covered by other media articles the FT may be more likely to consider them as a potential news subject or interviewee.
- Comment on breaking news
Commenting on breaking news is another way to bring your client to journalists’ attention. Journalists usually approach businesses for comments rather than using unsolicited pitches though so ask the ones who you want to consider comments from your client if they have a comments list that you can be added to. That way, you’ll be emailed when they’re on the lookout for a comment so you can send them what they are looking for when they actually want it and can use it.
Timing is a key consideration for comments as there is little point in approaching a journalist with a comment after they’ve written up a breaking news story. They will not thank you for it and are unlikely to edit their write up or feature to include your comment post-coverage.
Track the journalists you want and give useful information that would add value to any story they are writing.
- Attend events
Freelancers are journalists that write for more than one media too, so if you get your client interviewed by one for another publication, continue to send that journalist relevant news and interview offers, especially if they freelance for the FT.
Networking at industry events is always a good idea too as journalists are people so meeting them face to face and introducing yourself, and your client, will mean they are more open to you approaching them after the event.
Hopefully, this has been helpful. These are just a few tips, so if you’d like to discuss your PR requirements, please do get in touch.