The need for a good reputation should never be underestimated. Even booming industries feel the financial sting when falling out of favour with the public. Just look at the many examples (Tesla, Ratner, United Airlines, Victoria’s Secret) of media mismanagement causing stocks to plummet overnight. This distrust is increasing with each generation, whose bright minds choose no longer to pursue careers at companies with a bad reputation. Strong media relations are vital to keep your organisation afloat.
As Warren Buffet famously contended “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” In the internet age we face challenges like fake news, a struggling publishing industry, and constantly changing mediums of communication. Reputation is your one constant; the thing you can rely on to meet these challenges.
Your savvy audience can be both your best advocates and biggest detractors, depending on how you communicate with them. With the media on your side, you can tend to your reputation like a garden. After all, everything is strengthened with an extra pair of hands. Like gardening, media relations is a long game. But if you begin planting seeds, you will reap the benefits for years to come.
As an added bonus, media relations is a very cost-effective type of marketing. This attractive cost-to-reach ratio translates into a happy bottom line.
Still unsure if you should be focusing on media relations? Read this piece for more reasons why it should be a core part of your organisation’s activities.
If you are already convinced then look no further: we’ve spoken to PR veterans across an array of industries to get their tips on how to execute a winning media relations strategy. In this guide, we are going to cover everything you need to know to either get started on media relations, or pack a stick of dynamite into your existing strategy.
Table of Contents
How to build a media relations strategy
In the words of beloved author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Organisations with a strong, long-term media presence, will have a solid plan to back it up. Working out who you are, what you stand for, and what messages you want to portray is challenging- but it’s also fun. It will not only make every single pitch, interview, and social media post you write a hundred times easier to create, but it will also make it much easier for journalists to understand. In this section on building a media relations strategy, we will cover:
- Establishing the foundations of your communications
- Establishing your messaging
- Modelling your strategy
▲ This is a scene in our illustrated book on Purpose: the principles for effective PR. You can download the book for free.
Establishing the foundations of your communications
Like any fable, the stories you tell need to have an underlying message. Before you begin the task of pitching stories to the media, it is essential to understand your company’s purpose and how you plan to put it into practice. This will not only help to finetune your communications, but it is proven to grow your business: Unilever's purpose-driven brands grew 69% faster than the rest. Once you have worked out your purpose, working out your messaging and planning for the months ahead becomes much more straightforward. In the words of Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock (the world's largest investment company):
“Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential. It will ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders.”
If you want to discover more on why purpose is so crucial to an organisation's success, read this excellent article by Adam Stones on our magazine.
To fine-tune your communications strategy try this: send a quick email to everyone in your marketing and communications team.
Ask them to:
- Describe your company's purpose in 3 words.
- Describe the most important beliefs/values of your target audience.
- List the 3 main themes you're communicating as a company.
Did you get the same answers from everyone? If not then it’s probably time to sit down and define the foundations of your communication strategy together.
To get an accurate idea of who you are as an organisation, you’ll also need to have answers for these questions:
- Why does our company exist?
- How do we accomplish the things we want to accomplish?
- Who do we do this for?
- What do we do this with?
- What is the Big Hairy Audacious Goal we are working towards?
- What is our story- how did we come to market and what does that mean to us (and our customers)?
- What are the three key selling points of your product or service?
If you have solid answers for each of these, then you are ready to work on your messaging. If not, it’s time to lock yourself into a meeting room with your marketing team for a few days, and build a strategy. Tip: bring (one of the) founders - they will remember what’s at the core of your brand.
Looking to really work out your audience, messaging and strategy? We’ve created a Communication strategy canvas to give you some guidance, and build a foundation.
Establishing your messaging
Once you have worked out your ‘why’ you can move on to your messaging. Your messaging describes why your audience should care about your product or service. Having a messaging strategy is non-negotiable. It will tie all your communications together, give focus to your work, and help your audience to ‘get’ your product or service. Without it, your customers won’t understand what you're offering, and journalists will find all your ideas half-baked.
The media is an impartial message-bearer. People perceive them as neutral, which is why messages about you in the news are more trustworthy. It’s also why media relations is such a powerful tool. It’s important to note that in order to keep that trust, you will need to work hard to be deserving of it. Trust is fragile, which is why it’s such valuable currency.
There are the four kinds of messaging you will need to work out in your media relations strategy:
- Brand messaging, like all great things, should be as simple as possible. It is the 2-3 ideas you most want to convey about your brand. This messaging should be the undercurrent of everything you create. Think of Nike’s ‘Just do it’ or Apple’s ‘Think Different’. It’s a clear and consistent message that your audience will remember you by.
- Thought leader messaging aims to share the individual or company expertise you have. It should, therefore, be more personal and focus on the unique ideas or insights your thought leader can offer. By becoming a well-known name in the industry, you are more likely to be called upon by the press for a quote or a unique insight.
As an example of thoughtleadership messaging, look at Spanx CEO Sara Blakey’s Linkedin posts:
Without seeing her communication strategy or knowing too much about her company, it is already clear from her posts what her key messages are:
- Female entrepreneurs offer untapped value, and deserve support
- With hard work you can make it big, no matter the odds
- Great things don’t require perfection, we are all human
A skillful thought leader showcases what they bring to the table - and who they are as a person - in the space of a few sentences. When their personal values are reflected in the company values, then their words will carry extra weight.
Brand messaging can be split in two different forms of messaging:
- Product and service messaging usually takes a backseat in most communications, unless you have a very niche product or are pitching to a particularly technical publication. Nevertheless, it’s important to work out your positioning internally — so you stand out from the competition with your unique features. It also helps journalists to understand your position in the market.
- Campaign messaging: every single piece of content you create doesn’t have to have the same messaging, but the brand values they reflect underneath should always be the same. Let’s look at the brand promise for famous brands and how that is reflected in their campaigns.
Apple’s brand promise is to create easy-to-use products based on seeing the world a little differently, which will inspire their customers to do the same.
Apple's brand campaign for their streaming services promises to help you ‘lose yourself in 60 million songs’. The subtext here is that by using Apple’s straightforward product, you will have access to a wealth of music, which will help you to think differently or ‘lose yourself’.
Patagonia’s brand promise is that they will produce the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
Patagonia’s brand campaign ‘Don’t buy this jacket’ shows that although they make the best product, their commitment to the environment is so strong that they are willing to lose business over it.
Once you have worked out the messaging for these four categories, make sure you look at them holistically. They may have been developed for different purposes but they should each tie into each other to help to convey your core promise as a brand.
Modelling your strategy
If you are looking for a tried and tested model to apply your communications strategy to, the PESO model is your best friend. It will help bring structure to your communications. The model ensures you’re hitting all the bases, while giving you the data to see how you are doing. This in turn makes it easier to plan for the months ahead, as you’ll know where to focus your attention.
The PESO Model
Back in 2014, Spin Sucks’ Gini Dietrich described the relationship between different forms of media used in public relations and coined it the PESO model. Its simplicity really helps when building out a solid communications strategy.
▲ The PESO model, by Spin Sucks.
The PESO model makes a distinction between four different kinds of channels:
- Paid media: Channels that require money to distribute your content or ads. For instance: social ads, and paid media partnerships.
- Earned media: Channels that require relationships with (media) contacts who have established an audience. For instance: media relations, investor relations, and word-of-mouth.
- Shared Media: Amplifying content through an audience you’ve built. For instance, organic social media, review platforms, and forums.
- Owned media: Inbound channels which your company completely owns, and where an audience finds your content. For instance: your newsroom, content marketing, thought-leadership platform, podcasts, and brand journalism.
A large chunk of media relations is earned media, but it’s a missed opportunity to not take a good look at other channels. If you ignore the impulse to remain in the safety of your ‘earned media’ comfort zone, you can significantly strengthen your media relations strategy.
Here’s how you can use the PESO model to build a strong media relations strategy:
Paid media: Even though the PESO model starts with paid, we don’t consider it the strongest channel for media relations. However, paid partnerships can be a powerful way to consistently reach a relevant audience with a thoughtful message. A big plus is that a well-executed paid partnership gives you an opportunity to scale, but be mindful of relevance and context of the piece. Paid pieces (done wrong) look weird and will be completely ignored by your audience.
Besides paid placements, reaching your audience via new media (influencer marketing and bloggers) is often paid too. Paid social media campaigns can also be a powerful tool to amplify important news announcements.
Earned media relations is powerful because your product, service or news is shared by a voice that is not your own. Paid placements take away that perceived neutrality. Trying to push a piece if it’s neutral is ethically questionable. For this reason, some companies have sworn off paying for placements in publications. While we applaud that, there’s also a strong use case for thoughtful media partnerships (with a clear distinction from the neutral content).
Earned media: Earned media is the processing of monitoring the media landscape in your industry, connecting with key press contacts, and exchanging valuable content to reach their audience. Both parties win, the press gets valuable insights or content for a new article, and you might land a press mention. Earned media should not be confused with spray-and-pray tactics of email blasters, a tactic that does not belong in any good media relations strategy.
Shared media: If you think press contacts get all their information from pitches they receive, think again. Here’s what we learned when interviewing a local journalist last summer:
99% of the press releases we receive are rubbish. My network, my curated news feed and LinkedIn are my primary sources to find news.”
Remy Ludo Gieling - Editor in chief @ Sprout and MT
Your social channels, LinkedIn, Twitter, perhaps even Instagram, are perfect channels to connect with media professionals covering your industry. To understand the earned in earned media, turn to your shared channels. This is where you build what you earn. Try to share company and industry news, and thought-provoking articles. Ask for opinions, share work from your press contacts, and invite contacts for press events. With most journalist’s inboxes overflowing, even pitching might be best done via your social accounts.
Like owned channels, shared channels are also great for distributing news to stakeholders; either as an article in your newsroom, or as press coverage.
Owned media: Owned media is perhaps the most overlooked, but essential channel in any media relations strategy. If your news announcements only live as PDF’s in your contacts’ inboxes, you’re missing out on a very important channel: inbound PR. By offering news, coverage and media kits (and anything else that might help your contacts build a story) online, your news will become findable on search engines. It becomes discoverable for website visitors and offers support and context for journalists visiting your website. Other ways to utilise owned channels are brand journalism, sharing internal expertise in informative articles, or creating podcasts.
Important note: channels like Medium and LinkedIn Pulse are not owned media. If any of those sites go away, you’ll lose that content forever. Secondly, you will never build any domain authority when publishing to those channels.
How to write to get your story picked up
Nowadays there are more ways of telling a story than you can shake a stick at. While you should avoid being overwhelmed by choice, the bright side is that you have even more opportunities to tell your story to journalists. This also means that you will need to prepare for whichever medium they might prefer. In this section we will look at the different ways you can tell a story:
Storytelling with writing
Media relations, at its core, is about storytelling. Writing is an essential part of telling that story—with good writing you can reach every single stakeholder. Let’s look at how to use your skills for writing in your media relations. Here we will cover:
- How to write a killer press release
- Thought-leadership: opinionated articles, sharing expertise
- Pitching: how to pitch journalists
Tech-savvy? We have created a list of 30+ tools and resources to help you write faster and better.
News: How to write a killer press release
Being a PR software tool, we see hundreds of press releases pass through our system every day. These are the key components of the ones that make big news:
The headline is the most important part of your press release. On average, 5 times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. Summarise your main point in 10-20 words, be data-driven, and keep your reader’s interests in mind.
A structured format offers reporters an organised setup for your story. The first line should always feature the date and location of where the news takes place- it’s your 30-second elevator pitch. Your release should answer the famous 5 W's: who, what, where, when and why. Additional bullet points can help summarise key findings and your second or third paragraph provide more details for context. Mark the end of your press release with "###" centred above the boilerplate.
Factual writing style
PR’s golden rule is show, don’t tell. Your press release should provide factual information about the product, person, or event that you are covering. Don’t overdo it with the adjectives and keep the fluff to a minimum.
Not everyone is familiar with your organisation. A boilerplate provides background information with a short summary of what your company does.
You can’t control what others write about you can control the images they use. A media kit is a folder filled with downloadable assets that supplement a story; like high-resolution photos, videos, data visualisations, technical specifications. You can find more details on media kits here.
A human voice in a story gives it a personal touch— plus journalists typically use quotes to enrich their stories. Be strategic: quote key stakeholders to save journalists time and effort.
Has your story been covered by another outlet? Link news articles to your press release to boost your credibility and trustworthiness.
Including clear links to contact details and spokespeople is crucial so journalists can follow up by phone, email, or Linkedin. Accommodate their preferred medium with basic contact information such as name, role, phone number, email, and links to social media. To make it more appealing, make it clear that they will also have access to a representative of the company, such as the CEO.
SEO & Analytics
Search engines use backlinks as a way to rank a website. If a high-ranking website provides a backlink to your website, it is likely that you will get some of that traffic; so incentivise journalists to link to your release. This could be a data source, a hosted report, extensive analysis, a fact sheet - anything to incentivise a publisher to link back to your domain.
For tracking, it's important to add UTM codes to your URLs so that you can track and measure the performance of your sources. This is very simple, but crucial to be able to measure anything you do.
We have built a Google Sheet to help you and your team create consistent UTM-tagged URLs. Just make a copy of the sheet.
Here’s a a release from Dutch bicycle brand VanMoof that’s ticking all the boxes:
Thought leadership: Using writing to build authority
Writing is a powerful element of thought leadership strategy.. A good definition of thought leadership comes from Tim Prizeman, owner of PR agency Kelso consulting, who describes thought leadership as ‘original ideas with important implications, backed by evidence, clearly expressed, publicly discussed, that strongly influence the opinion of others.’
Having a strong and positive influence on the opinions of others is one of the main ways you can build up legitimacy for yourself with media contacts. A well-written piece of writing can help you do that- by transforming your name and ideas into memorable ones.
If you are publishing your original ideas to your own platform, you have the benefit of editorial freedom. But, if you decide to pitch your ideas as an op-ed/byline, you can really make use of a publication’s reach. The rules of pitching op-eds are similar to regular pitching; everything you send needs to be relevant and newsworthy. But also, by virtue of being ‘thought’ leadership, it has to be both thoughtful and thought-provoking.
Here are some tips for writing an external thought leadership piece:
- Make sure it is relevant to the readership of the publication
- Set a goal for the piece and don’t stray too far off-topic
- Avoid jargon or technical terms unless you are writing for a niche industry publication
- Make sure it’s thought-provoking or offers a unique opinion, don’t be afraid to be bold
- Don't be afraid to cover topics your competitors have already written about- just make sure you have a different view on the topic.
- Don’t be salesy, it’s fine to introduce your company— after all, thought leadership aims to build awareness— but if you sound like a press release people will stop reading
- Link to other articles in the publication you are pitching to- this will make it seem more appealing to the editor
- Leverage timely events or create evergreen content for maximum impact
- Fact check and substantiate all your claims with sources- you are trying to build trust
- Make sure the piece is clear and relatable. Keep your paragraphs and quotes short, for readability.
- Try starting with a challenge or problem to draw readers in- and offer positive solutions
- Create infographics and videos so people can better understand your ideas
- Make sure photographers are credited in images
- Don’t send your piece on the first draft- make sure it has several editorial rounds with content specialists in your company
- Research and use keywords - if your piece isn’t findable by your target audience you’re just shouting into the void
Pitching: Using writing to pitch journalists
For this section, we spoke to Bieke Groenink, PR Manager for brands like Patagonia and GoSpooky, and Marta Tomzcak, Head of Brand Communications at MediaMonks/S4Capital for their tips on pitching media contacts.
They say the key to great writing is reading. With media relations, this is especially true. To pitch journalists, you will have to know their beat intimately. Bonus points for knowing their publications' editorial slant. Carve out time every day to read: it will improve your writing tenfold.
Tools like Feedly (more on this below) and Blendle for Dutchies, are great ways of keeping track of what media outlets are writing about. Follow all your favourite newspapers, journalists, and keywords. This way, you'll get a feel of what conversations are happening— and where.
“Picking a niche makes your life easier, as there is so much to read. Blendle is perfect because you can search for specific keywords or journalists; including freelance journalists who write for a few publications. You can read what they've written over the past few months— or even years. It’s a great research tool.”
With this information under your belt, your pitches are more likely to stand out; without the need for fluffy language.
“When writing to media contacts, don’t beat around the bush. Be direct, and be concise. Journalists are usually slammed for time. By explaining your pitch in the first few lines of your email, you show a respect for their job. This will give you immediate brownie points.”
“Factual details always remain the same. They are the must have. Journalists are storytellers and will write a story that they think people want to read. Sometimes they will add more depth to the story- things like emotions, results or the impact that the story brings.
Usually they will ask for more information on one of the aspects of a story but stick to the details you have supplied. It’s important to agree upfront on the angle of the article, so that your and the journalist’s objectives are met. After all this is a relationship business.
Usually as a PR professional you represent a client, whether internal or external, it’s in your hands to make sure that the story is shining a light on things that happen without putting strain on your client’s reputation.
But once you do your research, agree on the angle, and give all information and facts to the journalist- it’s up to the editor to shape it. You need to make sure that the facts you give are not going to put your main stakeholder in an uncomfortable position. By giving a good story to the journalist, you are helping them. This unwritten exchange agreement is also a vouch for understanding each other’s objectives with a story.”
“You shouldn’t need to come with other pitches if your pitch is good as you will be pitching interviews or op-eds for specific reasons. If it’s interesting, and you can explain why it’s relevant and valuable to their readers, It’s likely they will go for it.”
And what about style and tone in writing? “Feel the room. If it’s someone in their 60s, chances are they tend to be a little more formal. Guessing tone takes some common sense.” Speaking to a casual tech blogger? It’s OK to break out the odd emoji 💥.
Not sure if you're hitting the right tone? Grammarly analyzes your emails and its AI detects tone and tenor. Not sure which tone to use? We have been very impressed with Crystal Knows, an AI tool gives you a personality profile based on the person's online posts, and recommends which tone you should use.
Looking to learn more about pitching journalists? You can read the full interviews with Matias, Bieke and Guy on our blog.
Storytelling with visuals
Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, TikTok— there’s a reason why these platforms have taken off. Enter, the age of visual communication. Providing quality images is crucial if you want your story to get picked up. Let’s have a look at the ways you can use imagery in your storytelling, and the tools you can use to do it. In this section we will cover:
- Hosting media kits online vs sending PDFs
- Why visuals are so important
- What journalists are looking for in a photo
- How to create a media kit
Hosting media kits online vs PDFs
A media kit is a component of an online newsroom. It’s a one-stop-shop where a journalist can find every asset they would need to write a story- including images. It’s your job to give them so many quality resources that they would be crazy not to write about you.
There are so many benefits to hosting a media kit online. They adapt to every channel of communication and you have much more control over the way your organisation is portrayed. They make it a lot easier for journalists to create a good-looking article (helps especially when the story isn’t the strongest you’ve ever crafted). But perhaps most impressively, they increase Inbound PR significantly.
Inbound PR: when a journalist actively searches for news about you, without having to pitch them.
Why not just attach Images and PDFs to emails?
The short answer is, journalists rarely read PDFs anymore. As recently as five years ago, media kits were attached to emails as a PDF when pitching to journalists or kept in files that could be transferred via USB or services like Dropbox or WeTransfer.
As you can imagine, this was not very user friendly: imagine being a journalist and receiving north of 400 press releases with PDFs a day. That means that you'll be opening your clunky PDF reader 400 times a day, and filling up your hard drive with massive .zip files of media kits. Also, if you are the kind of person who loses sleep over a typo, the fact that they can’t be updated is the stuff of nightmares.
On top of that, attaching media kits to emails ignores a major traffic channel. Search engines are the main way we get information nowadays, and media kits come up in search results. Journalists- as fellow human beings in 2020- also get most of their information from search engines.
Not indexing your media kit is a missed opportunity of epic proportions. Now that PR is increasingly Inbound, findability is an indispensable part of modern PR strategy. You can read more about how to be findable here.
Examples of companies with great media kits
VanMoof's branding is strong, and so is it's imagery. Their newsroom includes an extensive media kit section with strong imagery for each campaign and product.
You can check out VanMoof's media kits here.
Titleist is one of the world's biggest golf brands, and that shows in their product range. They're offering multiple images and videos for each product, nicely categorized in their media kit section
You can find their online newsroom here.
A good example of a collection of good media kits can be found on Twotone Amsterdam's newsroom. Twotone is an Amsterdam-based PR agency, working with cycling brands all over the world. In their newsroom, you'll find multiple media kits (per campaign and per product), nicely categorised into folders for each client. The search functionality in Twotone's newsroom also searches through all these media kits, making it very easy for Twotone's contacts to navigate to a specific image.
Creating a media kit? Check out this article on what makes a great media kit, plus some examples of media kits from our clients.
Why visuals are so important
If your pitch gets picked up but it contains no images, chances are, someone will have to run around like a headless chicken to find one. Needless to say, if that person is the editorial team, it reflects badly on you.
But there’s good news. Every publication we spoke to has confirmed the same thing: if journalists are deciding between multiple pitches, they will choose the one with the best images. This means that if you up your image game, you should notice a significant uptick in your coverage.
In the year since we launched our PR magazine Unfold, we have worked with the heads of PR for some of the world’s leading brands.
Unfold's Editor in Chief, Carmen Guillen explains:
“I’m always flummoxed by how few PR departments send visual assets through. And of those that do, how many send small or low-resolution images. Poor quality images are at best a distraction, but at worst can be taken as a reflection of the quality of the piece, which makes the written content seem less credible.”
Remy Ludo Gieling, Editor in Chief at Sprout, echoed this with his key bits of advice for organisations:
“Invest in photography. Most mediums nowadays are online, which means that these articles need visuals. You’d be surprised how few companies actually have a good online newsroom with press kits and hi-res images. With high-quality photography, you can really make your article stand out. Photos of the team, management, atmospheric images, product shots, etc.”
Sending quality images with a pitch is such an easy win: a journalist will perceive you as more professional, so will want to collaborate with you again. The other advantage is you get to control how your brand is being portrayed. Because in all likelihood, random stock photos chosen by someone who doesn’t know your brand are not going to do your image any favours.
Taking away annoying tasks for journalists like sending endless email chains requesting images, or hurriedly scouring image libraries for something that fits, will push you into the PR major leagues. When you build a reputation for being thorough, helpful, and reliable, media contacts will want to pick up the phone and call you in the future.
Whilst it’s worth investing in a bank of images of your organisation, you do not have to organise a whole shoot for every single pitch. There are so many great ways to source visuals, which we will cover below. Once you start creating images you can draw upon the archive for years to come— everyone loves a bit of nostalgia. Just look at this great example with this Ford campaign that uses an old photo to celebrate their longevity.
What editorial teams are looking for in images
We spoke to Alex Ortiz, a Senior Photo Editor for The Guardian, The Observer, Sunday Times Magazine, and Save the Children for her tips on using images to get coverage.
Photo by Ed Barber
“People make assumptions when looking at images-- always take a step back and make sure you are sending the right message. If you are struggling, think outside the box. It always reflects badly on an organisation when there are no images.
We look for images called ‘page holders’ ie. they hold the reader's attention. Pictures can be the difference between your event or product being featured in a magazine or not. You’ve got nothing to lose— it’s free advertising ”
Here are Alex’s top tips for images:
- Make sure images are high resolution
Blurry images are not a good look when you’re trying to look professional. To avoid sending pictures that look like stills from the Blair Witch Project, send high resolution images. This is usually 300 DPI for print and 72 DPI for the web.
- Send them in the right format
When in doubt, send things in the preferred format of JPEG. JPEG works well for the web, but you will occasionally be asked for TIFF if it’s a print publication.
- Don’t be cheesy
Remember women laughing alone with salad? There is a reason why stock photos are so easy to make fun of. ‘Lifestyle’ photos tend to look posed, especially if they contain people. Being too ‘staged’ seems insincere, so landscapes are a safer bet. If you’re unsure, go for a website like Death to Stock, which specialises in authentic photography.
- Don’t send too many images
Imagine receiving a gargantuan file of images when you are on a deadline. While journalists and picture editors do like to have options to choose from — and will request more than they need— too many images will make you look lazy. And give media contacts a sizeable headache. An edit of your top 10 images will help avoid both of these scenarios.
- Send both uprights and landscapes
Pictures often get cropped to fit a publication. A pin-sharp image in both portrait and landscape makes it easier for publications to crop. A selection of both formats will make your images (and story) much more likely to be selected.
- Caption your images
Make sure all your images have the credits in the metadata as well as the caption. This avoids making picture editors going back and forth for this information. If you don’t have time, it is always a good idea to ask the photographer to provide this information. Photographers are savvy using photoshop and they want to be credited.
Most stock agencies will provide photo credits with the download package. Make sure the information is correct, with an accurate description of what it is, where it is, who it is, and the date it was taken. If an image is miscredited or contains bad information, you will likely be responsible.
- Make sure images are well lit
Bright images look better both in print and online and are generally more pleasing to the eye. By the same token, nighttime images should be avoided. Nowadays, most print publications are on thin semi-glossy paper, and dark images don’t reproduce well.
- Never use images without permission
This should go without saying but don’t take random pictures from the internet without permission. This is bad practice and could land you in some hot water.
Top 3 tips for pictures of events
- If you are advertising an event that has not yet taken place, you should still send images with a pitch. Look for pictures of the performance, or send pictures of the venue book cover.
- When you send a photographer to a venue for an event you are hosting, make sure there’s a very clear notice telling people that they are going to be photographed. This is a good thing to put at the entrance.
- If you are focusing on specific people in crowd photos, make sure you have permission to use their image. If not, it's very likely they will contact the newspaper asking for money or making a complaint. This unfortunately, is a regular occurrence, and makes PR teams look unprofessional.
Top 3 tips for pictures of people
- Make sure you choose flattering images. If someone looks awkward, people will notice. This will distract from the piece.
- Do not send images of people if you don't have their permission. Photographers usually make their models sign a model release form.
- Be especially careful with images of children- even in a crowd they will need a model release form. Without one, you could be liable.
Context: understanding a picture desk
If you are pitching to a publication big enough to have a picture desk, establishing a good relationship with picture editors is sometimes as important as cultivating good relationships with journalists. If picture editors know they can turn to you for good quality images, they are more likely to come to you in the future. Free advertisement? Yes please.
Remember that picture editors work under very tight deadlines. Never promise something you can’t deliver. If you say you are sending something by a particular date and time: make it happen. They won’t forget.
Agency or freelancers should pay particular attention to sending images. If a picture editor ends up contacting your client for images because they couldn’t get one from you, it is bound to raise a few eyebrows.
Try to reply as quickly as you can with an image request. Picture desks run on a ‘first come first served’ basis. So if you don’t send images in a timely fashion- a competitor might take your spot.
If you don't have images, search for some online. Approach this as if you are a picture editor yourself. It’s so easy to do. With a small amount of money, you can improve your company’s reputation tenfold.
Hacks to sourcing great imagery
Can't find the right image? Instagram is a surprisingly good source. Contact the user to ask for their permissions, then use this program to download the image. Don’t forget to credit the photographer.
Don’t have much budget? Go to an end of year photography degree show and select your favourite photographers. Approach them for a job— they will be thrilled to have their first real gig. They get to build up their portfolio, and you get high-quality photos at a reduced price. Alternatively many stock agencies, like Shutterstock, have a free trial.
Have an engaged user base? Leverage that. Keep an eye on the pictures you customers are taking. Their pictures will seem more sincere— plus they are a cheaper alternative.
Need something more dynamic? Illustrations can be a great alternative. There are plenty of image banks for illustrations or freelance illustrators that you can use to bring your ideas to life.
Creative agency 72& Sunny made this great presentation on producing work during a lockdown. But it can serve as inspiration for any time. Whole campaigns and music videos have been built off the back of stock footage. Just look at this video by Coldplay, made with stock footage.
Creating a media kit
No matter which magazine or blog you’ll be published in, the author of that article is going to need images, videos, and other material to make the story more interactive. By providing your media contact with the right images, you don’t just look helpful, but you get some control over which photos will be published with the article. Here’s which images you should include in your media kit:
- Portraits of the (management) team
Journalists will likely cover stories of spokespeople or management. So quality photos are a must. It gives a face to the company and gives the brand a professional air.
- Photos and videos of the company office(s)
People love to see your brand context and your office is an integral part of your brand. It is the home for your ideas and is often requested by journalists. By displaying these online you also avoid lots of tedious repetitive media requests.
- Photos and videos of people working
People love faces, so a good media professional will go looking for photos of the humans behind your story. Having these is a big plus.
- Photos and videos of the product(s)
This is a bit of a no-brainer if your business is product-related. This is a chance to showcase your products in their best light and make sure the assets being used in coverage is consistent.
- Mockups and screenshots of your software
If you’re a software provider, or offer software as well as products, you want to add nice mockups and screenshots of your software for articles that cover that aspect of your business.
- Photos and videos of your events
Events are a great opportunity to produce exciting visuals, and interesting events are also a solid story idea for a pitch.
- Brand assets
Logo’s, backgrounds, patterns, colours. Any brand asset a journalist might use, should be available.
Storytelling with voice and audio
If you’ve ever watched a TED talk or listened to a podcast and felt motivated to act, you'll know how compelling a human voice can be. Human presence is powerful. It conveys the nuance, emotion, and authenticity that is sometimes absent in written text. Humans are more trustworthy than bland company statements, which is why thought leadership is such a powerful tool. Once you build a reputation as a knowledgeable authentic source, you are much more likely to be contacted by the media. Below we look two powerful channels where the human voice really shines:
Podcasting as a thought leadership strategy
We spoke to Agnes Bilik, content creator and podcast expert, on why podcasting is so powerful.
It’s easy to see why podcasting has taken off in the way that it has; with just $200 you can buy all the basic resources you need to get started. Podcasting can be a fantastic lead generation tool. However, like most things that deal with reputation, podcasting is a long game.
You will learn a lot in the process of researching content and inviting smart guests — which is essentially free consulting (can’t argue with that). But unless you have a good mailing list already, or a huge advertising budget, don’t expect the listener count to grow beyond a snail’s pace in the beginning.
Podcasts are a great way to network. The relationships you develop with your listeners can open up new doors. As a medium for thought leadership, podcasting is second to none. Once your name is established it is very likely you will get invited to more speaking gigs or as a guest on other shows. All good things for a journalist to find if they Google you or your company.
The intimacy of a podcast means that your listeners are likely to trust you far more than they would with any other medium- which is why advertising on podcasts is 4.4x more effective than on display ads. The average podcast listener, however, is highly educated, so you will need to be able to produce high-quality content every time to keep them interested.
Generating media coverage from speaking events
Sometimes, you stumble across a public speaker who is so good, that they stop you in your tracks. Unsurprisingly, good public speakers have the same effect on the media. Public speaking gigs are a great way to get coverage and they put another feather in your thought leadership bow.
▲ Alain Sylvain, is a favourite in the public speaking circuit. Read his interview with Unfold here.
Journalists often quote thought leaders, also called subject matter experts (SMEs), if you’re feeling fancy. Thought leaders’ insights breathe credibility into a piece of news. But to land speaking gigs, you’ll have to build up a solid foundation of content beforehand.
Laying this groundwork will involve things like blogging, podcasting, op-eds, and videos. To attract the media, you first have to emulate them. Become your own media powerhouse. Prove your influence beforehand by building a network of advocates who will be your cheerleaders. To attract fans, you will have to give people your best ideas, every time.
It may take a while to build up your profile, so prepare to hustle to begin with. Reach out to media attendees at events and let them know you’re available for interview. And don’t forget to optimise the hell of your speaker page. Being accepted to a high profile event is a flaming endorsement. It will keep you top of mind for event organisers and journalists alike.
Here are some tips for starting out with public speaking:
- Start small. You may have to do some unpaid gigs first to build up a name for yourself.
- Create videos of your public speaking. Events will want to try before they buy.
- Tap into your online communities on social media to create some buzz.
- Be targeted. Make sure the audience is the right fit and will find your talk relevant.
- Practice, practice, practice. Charisma can be learned.
- Show organisers that you understand their event. Research the audience and previous speakers beforehand. Make your speaker pitch as targeted as a media pitch.
- Encourage social sharing after the event and engage with those who do share.
- Make sure the talk fits in with the rest of your messaging and brand strategy.
- Find your niche. If you are the world’s expert on a hyper-specific topic, the media will doubtlessly turn to you for information.
- Build relationships with people involved in events to increase the chance of your name popping up.
- Make yourself visible after speaking at an event, so new contacts can approach you.
- Make it easy to follow up with you afterwards. Bring business cards or list your contact details in your presentation.
- Create a dedicated speaker sheet for speaking events, including a description of your talk, some portraits and photos from previous speaking events, video material, testimonials and a bio (here’s a link to our CEO’s speaker sheet).
Finally, use your talk to make more resources. Get creative— whitepapers, webinars, transcripts, social media posts-- there are many ways to give your talk legs. That way it can keep walking, long after the event.
How to build a network
The ‘relations’ part of ‘media relations’ is there for a reason. Building relationships with a network of key media contacts is a crucial part of your work as a communicator. Establishing your network will take time, but those relationships will help you in a myriad of ways, for years to come. In this section we will look at effective ways to build a strong network of media contacts:
- Monitoring your industry and building a press list
- How to segment your contacts
- How to connect with journalists
- How to leverage events to build media relationships
Monitoring your industry and building a press list
Maybe you’re building a niche list of media contacts for a campaign. Or maybe you’re setting up a long-term list of media contacts. Either way; it’s important to be able to find the right person, at the right time.
Building a list
Media databases can be useful as a starting point. But here’s the thing— journalists tend to move around a lot. So they’re often outdated. Every seasoned PR person we spoke to said the same thing. They don’t bother buying these lists. They all said "if we are going to have to check all the contact details anyway, we might as well make a fresh list with contacts we know are relevant”
This makes perfect sense. Successful pitches all have one thing in common: relevance to a journalist/publication. The crème de la crème of pitches also demonstrate knowledge of what their readers would find interesting. This takes time and research. But it’s well worth your time- because it produces serious results.
We’ve prepared a detailed guide on how to build a press list, for free, with just 10 minutes per day.
We asked 3 PR pros for tips on how to approach list building:
Guy van Koolwijk, Twotone Amsterdam: "Our network is our superpower"
- Stick to your passions. Jon Woodroof, founder of Twotone, used to be a bike messenger and work at a bike shop. He’s now built a business around his worldwide cycling network. Guy, who is a DJ, used his music contacts to do a project for Bian Eno.
- Send previous coverage with your pitches; it builds credibility.
- Don’t build a list, build connections. Your goal should always be to create a long-lasting network of relevant connections, not to write down contact details.
- Find journalists’ contact details in their bios. If not try Google, Linkedin or apps like rocket search.
- Bundle all the information for the story as a package for journalists. If you include lo-res photos or miss out crucial information there will be a lot of back and forth with emails and you may risk missing the deadline.
Bieke Groenink, Freelance Communications Consultant: "When you're in PR, you need to be a detective."
- Don’t use a database; in order to make sure you are reaching out to relevant people you need to do research.
- Check contact details on Linkedin or Twitter. Databases are often outdated.
- Reach out via email with a short pitch to gauge a new contact’s interest. Save the full press release for contacts you know.
- Get to the point quickly, be kind, and keep emails short.
- Figure out who the five most important people are to you or your client. Spend a good amount of time personalising a pitch to each one.
- Ask friends or ex-colleagues to share contacts and be willing to do the same.
- Have coffee with key journalists 6 or 7 times a year to build those relationships. These connections will last.
- Respect journalists; respect their profession and the decisions they make.
- Make sure your releases are factual and not opinionated— allow journalists to make up their minds
Matias Rodsevich, PRLab: "The concept of building relationships with journalists is quite exaggerated."
- Start building lists by segmenting the media landscape into 3 tiers: tier 1 are the big fish, with big reach and domain authority, tier 2 are specialised, industry publications, and tier 3 are smaller industry blogs.
- Look for articles covering topics relevant to you and find the contact details for those journalists.
- Look at the structure of email addresses at the publication (if it's firstname.lastname@example.org, it’s probably the email format for every employee.) To make sure you’ve guessed the right emails, test them with Email Hunter or ClearBit.
- Save media contact names in an excel sheet or CRM system. Include their social accounts and bios, email address, and a short description including details like their familiarity with the topics you’re pitching.
- Continually update your database as there is high turnover in the media industry
- Sit down with new clients, come up with a strategy for their brand, and set clear goals. Then start brainstorming stories that contribute to those goals. Only then can you start pitching.
- Use SEO tools like SEMrush to check backlinks to competitor websites and see what kind of coverage they are getting. Target those publications and journalists.
- Send handcrafted, personal pitches. It's too easy to make mistakes with automated marketing tools.
- Use Similarweb, to help find new magazines and publications in certain niches.
How to segment your contacts
For efficient outreach: segment your contact list.
As you get a better grasp of the media landscape in your industry and your media list is growing, you probably realise that it’s near impossible to send individualised pitches to each of these contacts. While it’s easy to bulk-email your entire press list: please don’t.
It’s a good idea to segment your network of media contacts into different lists. Many PR professionals have their own way of segmenting, but in general there are two different ways to segment your contacts:
- Segment your contact based on the size of the publication: bigger publications get more pitches. Therefore you can divide your contacts into three tiers: tier 1 are the big fish, with a big reach and domain authority, tier 2 are publications in specialised industry publications, and tier 3 are contributed posts in smaller industry blogs.
- Segment your contacts based on relevance: Some contacts are just spot on - they reach your exact target audience, and are solely interested in your industry. These are gems. Some others might write about your industry once in a while, but their main interest lies elsewhere. By making three lists: one with you key contacts, one with high potential contacts, and one that might be interesting, you know which pitches to spend most attention on. For list 1 you personalise the pitch as best you can for the individual, for list 2 you look up recent articles and use those in your pitch, and for list 3 you send a more general news announcement.
A CRM allows you to get a better overview of all your contacts, and more importantly, keeps them in your organisation when a colleague leaves the company or a computer crashes.
One last tip: for B-list, C-list, or third-tier contacts in particular- many of our customers' segment contacts in their CRM by the contacts’ preferred language. This is a great way to save yourself the awkward situation of accidentally sending a German pitch to English contacts.
How to connect with journalists
Building a network is not just about filling a spreadsheet with contact details. It’s about creating moments of human connection. We spoke to people on both sides of the equation- PR pros and journalists- to find out how they like to build relationships.
▲ Photo Credit: Brett Sayles
Tips from journalists on building relationships
People in PR with a background in the media tend to be successful. And there’s a reason for that; they get it. They understand the realities of journalism: inboxes overflowing with spammy pitches, working on multiple pieces at once, staying up late to meet a deadline. If you can show a journalist that you understand the pressures of an editorial newsroom, they are much more likely to warm to you.
We spoke to Remy Ludo Gieling, Editor in Chief at Sprout and MT, two Dutch business-oriented online magazines, on being at the receiving end of pitches and coffee dates.
“There’s a group of people I know very well. Every now and then they reach out to me to share what they’re working on. If it’s something that might be interesting for the Sprout or Management Team audience, we’ll work on an article together. My network, my curated feed, and LinkedIn are my primary sources to find news.”
Ever been in an editorial newsroom? We have - you can find the full list of tips for pitching to an editorial newsroom here.
“It may sound incredibly simplistic but pitches need to be relevant. I can’t even begin to tell you how many irrelevant emails I get every day — sometimes for publications I no longer write for.
I don’t like receiving work-related messages on Facebook or Instagram. I think it’s intrusive and not really necessary when there are plenty other appropriate channels that can be used instead.”
We asked Yessi if she has strong professional relationships with people in PR:
“Yes, I’d say there are about 10 people I communicate with regularly and would even go as far as calling them friends. I’ve gone to lunch, or had a coffee with all of them and we’ve discussed their clients. But I also socialise with them on a personal level. The best kind of relationships are those that develop organically.”
Tips from a PR veteran on building relationships
We spoke to Hugo Stienstra, Global Spokesperson/Reputation Manager at paints and coatings company AkzoNobel for some tips on how to build relationships with journalists. After 12 years in this position at several multinationals and currently at one of the Netherlands’ oldest and largest companies, Hugo had plenty of good advice.
“In all my positions one of the first things I did was find out who the company’s key media influencers are. Then I approached them saying 'I would like to introduce myself and get to know more about you. Can I have 15 minutes of your time, please?' Without introducing yourself in person, it's difficult to get to know the media. To start any relationship you have to shake someone’s hand and look them in the eye.”
“You'd be surprised how many journalists say, “okay, 15 to 30 minutes I can do, come over”- you’ll have to go to them. Sometimes you’ll get a tour of the newsroom, which is also very interesting. I would use the first meeting to introduce yourself, and get to know each other. Maybe tell them what you do besides work, like your passions for example- who you are as a person."
“Also use that first meeting to listen: find out what their needs are, and avoid giving the journalist the feeling that you’re just out to sell things. Listen first, then come back later with suggestions.”
“Later comes the difficult part: you have to prove to the journalist that the relationship is advantageous to them. A journalist needs to write stories for a newspaper or produce content for a website- they need input. You have to make sure that you have good and relevant input for them”
“Ask them in those first meetups: What topics are you writing about? How can we help you from an XYZ perspective, what themes are important to you? I always aim to develop a story for a journalist or newspaper, so that they feel “this is exactly what I and my readers find interesting'”Understand the reality of their job
Most journalists these days will write for more than one type of media, i.e. the web, TV, print or radio, to a strict 24/7 production cycle. They are bombarded with press releases that are usually not relevant and do not respect their time. Understanding this is crucial if you are to develop a strong working relationship with them. Let every interaction solve their problems, save as much time and energy for them as possible, and they will keep coming back.Be patient and build the network slowly
A study from the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships worked out that, on average, you have to spend 50 hours with someone before you consider them a casual friend, 90 hours before you are real friends, and 200 hours to become close friends.
“If you want to build up a strong network, you have to realise that it will be time-consuming, although worth it. The time you invest is not just the first cup of coffee: the moments you create afterwards are key. It's better to start with 5 key journalists than with 20. The relationship has to be maintained. So it's better to focus on five for your first year. And in the second year 10, or whatever works. Don't do too many.”
At some point, you will have pitched a few stories which a journalist may not have picked up, but don't be disheartened because it’s inevitable. Try and find out why it didn't work”
“In my experience, if you have pitched some good stories- even if they haven’t been picked up- at some point, journalists will come to you for a story. ..' And then you have an ideal situation- one in which you bring stories to them, but they also come to you for insights.”Come with stories
When you meet up with a journalist after starting the relationship, make sure you always bring something useful or insightful with you. This will help you establish a reputation with them as a reliable source of quality information, which will help you in the future. Plus it’s fun. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a story you have dreamt up in a major publication.
“Think before you pitch: why and to whom am I pitching this? Who in my network would find this relevant? How do I best prepare the story in advance? If a journalist is very busy (which they usually are) and you have prepared well, they will think ‘Wow, this saves me a lot of time, because the story is ready to use’”Make sure you have regular contact
“We organise press events and conferences where we (the media and spokespeople) usually see each other. And of course you have a lot of contact via phone or via email. At some point, you don't need to have coffees too often, but it's still important that you see each other or have contact once and a while."Be strategic with your pitching
Building reputation involves building up a solid foundation of quality stories that you can point to as evidence of credibility. This will require a more mindful approach, by spending time on stories tailored to particular journalists or news outlets, rather than ‘spray and pray’ tactics, which can damage your brand.
“Sometimes it's better to have one good quality article in a big newspaper than sending out a media release to 2000 people and hoping someone picks it up. Maybe 5 will pick it up. But they have less reach than that one big newspaper, and they might not be quality publications. And then that's another 1995 journalists who might see the media release and think ‘why did they send this to me? They should have known this is not relevant’. They might even consider it as spam, and your pitches will never get to their inbox again.”Know them inside out
This can be everything from understanding who they are as a person, to what they have written about historically, to the intricacies of their beat. Knowing all of this and tailoring all your information to them is a key part of being an effective spokesperson. Plus it will make your exchanges more enjoyable.
“There are journalists that know a bit about my private life, my holidays, and I know a bit about their private lives too. If they share something about their family, of course, I will share something too, because that's how you also build up a relationship. Some journalists want to keep it purely professional, which is fine too.”Be findable
“Journalists who don't know us, go to AkzoNobel.com where there's a media section with the contact details of our spokespeople; a telephone number and email address. Make sure that there is a media section on your website, where you have contact details and find the latest media releases and other relevant information. But for key journalists, reach out yourself.”
Leveraging events to connect with press contacts
While a digital introduction might be a great way to break the ice, nothing can beat meeting IRL. Events can be a great way to start an in-person relationship with media contacts. We spoke to PR pros who have mastered the art of a media event for their advice on how to do it right:
How to network at events
A media or industry event is the perfect setting to make new connections with journalists or peers. The crowd is in your niche, the event itself is a great talking point, and you can meet people in a natural way. Plus there’s often free food. What’s not to love?
There are some general rules for networking that will help you out:
- Arrive early to avoid having to break into groups.
- Write notes about people you meet on your phone or the back of a business card.
- Don’t use your phone as a crutch.
- Go to the edge of a large group and when there’s a lag in conversation introduce yourself.
- Get familiar with hosts and ask them to introduce you to key people.
- Ask people about themselves and not just their work.
- Don’t try and sell stuff, save that for later if you want to follow up.
- Follow up as soon as you can.
- Introduce yourself to people alone, they will be glad of some company.
- Ask for people’s opinions on things.
- Remember people’s names.
But the best piece of advice you are going to receive can be found in an interview with Jon Woodroof, owner of creative agency Twotone Amsterdam.
▲ Image courtesy: @saltlake_lian
His key to networking? Kindness. Try and find out how you can help the person you are speaking to. If you can do it on the spot, even better. By offering them value, you won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
“Depending on how disciplined you are, you can look back at your sent mail and do the math of how many new connections you made (and helped)! It is, of course, great to help people first and foremost, but it’s ultimately it is kinda self-serving.
Do things for other people in strategic and actionable ways. Do you know anyone that's doing something a contact needs? If you do, then pass it on. 80% of tasks aren’t going to resemble what you imagined but helping them puts you top of mind. Be clear what you’re looking for too so they can reciprocate and help you.
All that being said, if you’re networking and think who you met can connect you to the right person, write an introduction about yourself conveying your ask for your new contact and they can copy and paste. Furthermore, if you’re going to introduce someone make sure you check with the person you are putting them in touch with first, it’s the polite thing to do.”
Networking helps you build the relationships that will make you credible and trustworthy amongst your peers and the media alike. If someone has met you at a conference they are much more likely to open your email. You can find Jon’s full interview on networking here.
How to leverage events to build a relationship
Especially for brands with physical products, events are crucial. They’re the perfect opportunity to guide your press contacts’ experience with your product.
“A good media event is invaluable because media contacts will go back home at the end of the day feeling happy and satisfied, whilst having learned a lot about your company. It can be a fantastic way to strengthen the network with these key journalists; which will help you in the future. It always helps when you spend the whole day looking each other in the eyes and having conversations in person.”
So what does it take to strategically plan, execute, and evaluate an event that your target audience won't easily forget? We sat down with three PR pros for their biggest learnings on how to get the most exposure out of events and integrate them into your PR strategy.
▲ Tosti Creative's tomato fight on the Dam in Amsterdam's city center.
Max Pate, Tosti Creative: "In order to be remarkable, be bold, relevant and accessible"
- Be bold. Try to push boundaries, create some friction. This provokes people to think, which makes them much more likely to talk about it.
- Be relevant. Focus on what is actually going on in the lives of the target group you are trying to connect with- so you can create things that will genuinely bring them joy or value. Start with what’s going on in your target audience, then move on to the brief.
- Be accessible. The idea needs to be so simple that you can explain it in one sentence.
- The Grandpa test. We ask ourselves: is this idea so cool that I would tell my grandchildren about it? Is it so great that people would happily pay to attend?
- Go viral. Create something people want to talk about because it’s so striking- it’s much more likely to be shared.
- Make it easy for people to respond to your content, or create content of their own.
- Don’t use your events to lie or spread false information - media hoaxes severely affect your credibility.
▲ Komoot's press event, launching their app in the Netherlands.
Fiola Foley, Komoot: "Not setting clear objectives will be your biggest mistake"
- Organise targeted media events surrounding shared passions, for us that’s riding bikes. During lunch we get together, so that the editors and journalists can ask us questions about Komoot, but the rest of the day we just get to do what we all love: riding bikes.
- At your events, provide journalists with a media pack. Include all the images and other things like info sheets, or a press release if there is a product launch. Also, don’t forget to shoot tons of (professional!) pictures and send those over after the event.
- Make sure one of the PR managers on the team meets the journalists face to face. 95% of the people that actually open our newsletters or press releases are editors that I have met within the past year.
- Set clear objectives. Loose, vague ones will make it harder to be accountable or achieve success.
- Be clear about the efforts that you make when it comes to relationship building versus ones that are more transactional in nature, such as the paid media projects that you have with magazines. The former is more about taking care of the editors, providing them with a great experience they won't forget, and giving them all the information they need to know on how to use your product or service.
▲ Jon Woodroof's stickers, patches and other swag.
Jon Woodroof: "The key is being consistent and giving people something to remember."
- Get people to connect and create a network with them by sharing a common passion.
- Get people to experience the product by organising things like group rides (for bikes) with activities along the way.
- Build awareness at conferences - and bring collateral. Samples, patches, stickers etc. We have designed some awesome stickers, and I’ve noticed people often sign up to the newsletter or instagram, after receiving one of them.
- Mix up journalists and potential customers. It gives journalists real voices, honest stories, and being a cross-pollinator really makes you stand out.
Cut your teeth and do it wrong. It’s almost impossible to expect you'll go to your first show and smash it as an individual or as a brand - you have to get experience.
How to get coverage
Your strategy is pin sharp, your list of contacts is collated, and you are using all the right tools. How do you now translate that into coverage? An important place to start is understanding context: by knowing editorial newsrooms inside out, your pitches are much likely to get picked up. This knowledge will help you send pitches in the right way, at the right time, to the right people, with the right message.
But PR is not all about pitching: there are lots of other supplementary activities that strengthen your media relations; like strong internal communications, digital public relations, and corporate social responsibility. In this section we will cover:
- Editorial newsrooms in context
- How journalists like to be contacted
- A holistic view of PR
Understanding editorial newsrooms
▲ Sprout's editorial newsroom in Amsterdam
What happens after you click ’send’ to share your company news with your media contacts? Part of a great media relations strategy is knowing an editorial newsroom like the back of your hand. We spoke to some journalists to help you paint a picture.
Remy Ludo Gieling, Editor-in-chief at Sprout and MT, two Dutch business-oriented online magazines, told us what it’s like to be on the receiving end of our press releases. Below are the key takeaways from that interview, which you can find in full here.
This is where the Sprout team get their news:
- The editorial inbox, where people send their press releases. They get 300 - 400 press releases every day.
- Linkedin, as they are a business-oriented publication.
- Google News Feed (although some colleagues use RSS feeds).
- Sprout’s own network. Every now and then a contact reaches out to Remy to share what they’re working on. If it’s something that might be interesting for the Sprout or Management Team audience, they work on an article together.
- Slack: Sprout shares interesting news releases with each other on Slack in themed channels (so the right editor can pick them up), which is why links are better than PDFs.
“Don’t pitch to general email addresses— these never get picked up, they get bombarded with spam from newswires and agencies.”
Mattias Rodsevich, Founder at PR Lab
How to pitch journalists
Here are Sprout’s tips for pitching to a publication:
- Learn a publication’s editorial guidelines and make sure your story fits. For example, like many niche publications, Sprout has a very clear editorial guideline: a story is only interesting if entrepreneurs can learn from it.
- Make sure the story is actually newsworthy— most releases Sprout receives are only interesting to people who work at the company sending the release.
- Write major news in your own newsroom so they can use it as context later for a bigger story, most things sent by email don’t get picked up as they are drowned out by hundreds of other irrelevant pitches.
- Communicate your phone number when you’re sending out a release. “Some PR teams think it makes sense to follow up with us on the phone after they’ve sent a release, please don’t. With 400 press releases a day, we just don’t have time for that. If a story is interesting to us, we’ll call you.”
- “If you send us an embargoed releases, please don't send it weeks before the news can go live. Also, I would greatly appreciate a reminder email a day before the embargo ends.” Main take away: it’s hard for busy journalists to remember embargo dates.
- “Invest in photography. Most mediums nowadays are online, which means that these articles need visuals. You’d be surprised how few companies actually have a good online newsroom with press kits and hi-res images. With high-quality photography, you can really make your article stand out. Photos of the team, management, atmospheric images, product shots, etc. are great.
- Don’t send PDFs. They’re not easy to preview, it's a hassle to download them, and you can’t use any images straight from PDFs. Our team prefers emails with the full press release in the body of the email, and with links to the full press release in your newsroom.
Yessi Bello Perez, Senior Writer for TNW, on how she likes to be approached:
“Preferably email. If we have an existing relationship, I don’t mind being pitched on the phone or Twitter. WhatsApp is OK too, just as long as it’s used during working hours.”
People can build good relationships with me “by respecting boundaries and not being too pushy. I realise it’s a hard job to do but I think a lot of people forget that they’re not the only ones pitching a journalist.”
Tip: list your contact details on your website
A while back we organised a roundtable discussion with a few senior communications professionals and a journalist. The journalist shared a few typical issues he ran into, the biggest one being: not being able to get in contact with the press or management team.
We realised that, for various reasons, quite a few companies didn’t have their PR person’s contact details listed on their website. Whether that was because the PR team were afraid to be bombarded with emails from customers, or they simply forgot, it resulted in a journalist losing interest. Our tip: add the contact details of one or more members of your press team to your newsroom or press page. Ideally a name, job title, email address and social accounts (some journalists prefer social for communication).
If you’re a B2C brand with lots of traffic, make sure to clearly state that the email address is for press purposes only. You might still receive an email from a sales guy, or confused customers every now and then, but that’s a simple matter of forwarding or deleting.
Beyond the press release; holistic PR
▲ The nature-loving team at Patagonia
There is no use in trying to generate news if your organisation is not newsworthy. Inauthentic companies simply do not generate coverage- at least not the good kind. To translate your company values into media coverage, you will need to embody the values you communicate to the outside world. Journalists and consumers will sense if your storytelling is not an authentic reflection of who you are as a brand.
Holistic communication starts with the way your employees- your first ambassadors- feel about and interact with your brand. Internal PR and thought leadership are great tools to make sure your purpose and values as a company radiate from within.
This buy-in from your colleagues can also be seen in how expertly you integrate your communication strategy within your different departments: from sales to marketing to customer service. Part of your job is to make sure that every stakeholder— including your colleagues— are on the same page. Here are some of the areas in your organisation that deserve love and attention if you want to build credibility with the media.
Your first customers are your employees. Strong brands seek understanding and acceptance from every single person involved in an organisation- not just the public. This will mean you have to work just as hard on your ‘internal PR’ as your relationships with the media. This can start with your internal communication; with newsletters, events, training, but also with your listening. Internal communications should be a two-way conversation.
Journalists are much more likely to cover companies whose employees love working there, as their brand story becomes more credible. Moreover, your internal communications directly affect your external communications, especially in times of crisis. Without communicating well with your staff they can become worried, confused, or make assumptions about the situation.
Being transparent with your staff also transforms them into your key ambassadors. So make sure to keep them in the loop. Company reputation is something that is built over time. Regular check-ins with employees ensure they are aligned with the brand narrative and (most importantly!) that they are happy.
To read about The Red Cross’s approach to internal communications, we've interviewed Marc Lamers, Director of Communications at Red Cross NL.
Strong media relationships require influence. Thought leadership helps you build upon your influence by showcasing your expertise, your unique ideas, and your original approach to the work you do. Humans, by nature, are tribal. To foster understanding from your peers, the public, and the media, you will first need to demonstrate a deep understanding of the business you are in, as well as the needs and values of each of these groups.
Building your reputation as a key voice amongst your peers will place you in the heart of industry conversations. To build a thought leadership strategy, identify experts in your company and get their ideas out there.
There are many ways to showcase expert ideas, from Op-eds/bylines, to speaking at conferences and events, to brand journalism (like company blogs), to online newsrooms, to your own social media platforms. Here are some CEOs using their public personas to help their brands shine:
Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce wrote a timely op-ed to reimagine the way we do business.
Emily Weiss, Founder and CEO of Glossier has been an effective brand ambassador for her socially-driven brand, using her personality to take it from a beauty blog to a $1 billion company.
Digital public relations
With nearly 5 billion people using the internet every day, your online reputation is arguably one of the most important. Building a digital presence can help an organisation become a household name. In this context, managing your SEO is crucial -not only to become more findable than the competition- but also to avoid bad press hanging around.
Without intervention from you, one bad story or comment can be immortalised on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) or a social media timeline, and become a significant part of your brand history. Work with your company’s SEO expert to build up domain authority to have more control over what people find when they look for you. You can also consider paid placements to boost your SEO efforts. However, tread lightly with these strategies, if there were some lessons learned during a past crisis then it is better that a person searching for you finds a measured response from a Spokesperson than a bungled attempt to cover it up.
“Google algorithms are changing- and they're smarter than we think. They already have quite an intuitive way of figuring out what people really like.”
- Peter Keijzer
Boris Johnson was accused of trying to replace stories about his infamous Brexit campaign bus with stories about his model bus hobby.
There are plenty of other digital strategies to build your online reputation. Make sure your messaging is consistent across all platforms. Work with your marketing department to make sure your social proof- things like product or service reviews- are consistently good. If they are not, reach out to consumers and find out why.
People are much more likely to trust the opinions of someone like them than a faceless brand. A key part of reputation management can also be done using your online newsroom, where you can set the narrative for your media coverage- while boosting your Inbound PR. You can find out how to build a killer newsroom here.
Integrated marketing and communications
▲ Our team at pr.co doing our version of collaboration at an off-site meeting.
PR and marketing have always had a symbiotic relationship, and as digital activities increasingly take over communication, the areas in which they intersect will only grow. Where PR focuses on areas that require long term investments, like relationship building and reputation management, Marketing will get you quick wins and drive sales.
Not having a consistent brand narrative can make or break a company. It is vital that you work together with marketing (and indeed sales) to make sure you are all aligned with your brand and product messaging. For this, you will need a strong company purpose and vision, to use as a powerful foundation for all your messaging. By working together closely with all internal teams, you build brand reputation and sales together, brick by brick.
“It's also good for PR people to be part of the sales team- having this friction between sales, marketing and PR on a day to day level is a smart business decision. You can’t avoid reality: companies need to grow and produce a return on investment.
But you shouldn’t follow the traditional route where the sales lead is pushing you to say certain things that don’t align with your messaging. As the PR person, speak up in sales meetings, and really stand up for your purpose. Make sure you all stick to the story. Get the marketeers on side too. Then you will find the long and the short term company objectives will blend into a more integrated story.”
Corporate social responsibility
Business is going through a (albeit slow) revolution. The ‘winner takes all’ mentality that once dominated brands is being replaced by one that considers the common good. Businesses that don’t take concrete action on their carbon footprint or their contribution to global inequality won’t survive the next 20 years.
▲ Ben and Jerrys climate work
Making sure that a good portion of your company resources go towards addressing some of the issues society faces is essential. Edelman’s report on the COVID-19 pandemic was a great example of how the expectation of brands has shifted, with 71% of people agreeing that if they perceive that a brand is putting profit over people, they will lose trust in that brand forever.
“Nowadays, audiences are so engaged and involved- they talk to their friends about what is and isn’t sustainable. If a sincere, honest approach isn't part of your brand signature: then what's the use of your product or service? If you sell textiles and with toxic plastic shavings inside, and you aren’t even concerned, then something is seriously broken with your business.”
Without demonstrating social responsibility, you run the risk of becoming obsolete. Make sure that your brand is active in this sphere, and show how you are backing up your understanding of your responsibility with concrete action, to keep your reputation intact.
Inbound PR: Make your news findable in an online newsroom
Successful PR departments all have one thing in common: they have great online newsrooms. If you struggle with pitches that don’t get picked up, journalists that can’t seem to find your news, or poor quality coverage, it could be time for you to either get an online newsroom- or to improve the one you already have.
Here’s what Dutch entrepreneurial publication Sprout looks for in an online newsroom
- “Brand assets are very important.”
- “A news archive that shows me a timeline of what's been happening at a company. While many little facts often aren’t newsworthy for our readers - so no need to send a press release - they are interesting for me when writing a story. A clear, condensed news archive gives me a good timeline of company milestones”
- “Coverage can be interesting to look at as well. Even better when you can search and filter through all coverage. I use coverage from other outlets to find quotes and facts. The thing with coverage is that they’re written by journalists, not by companies, and are therefore more trustworthy.
- “Most important are clear links to contact details and spokespeople. I like to reach out on the phone and LinkedIn, some of my colleagues prefer email. A newsroom without any contact details would be a big miss.”
Leveraging a newsroom
Pressroom, Mediaroom, Press page, Corporate newsroom, Online media centre…. Clearly, we won’t run short of names for online newsrooms.
Luckily, the definition is clear: an online newsroom is the home for media coverage and company news. It’s the public-facing heart of your brand, the place where you can control your own narrative.
An online newsroom is not going to bear much fruit if no one can find it, it has no actual information, or it has a clunky user experience. When a journalist can’t find what they want quickly, they are more likely to abandon a story in favour of another brand. For an online newsroom to be effective it needs some key features.
Looking to build, or improve your newsroom? We wrote an article explaining the key components a newsroom should have.
Why your news should be findable
As media transitions from traditional news outlets to the digital sphere, online newsrooms are increasingly important to keep your brand in the conversation. The jury is out on whether press releases are becoming obsolete, but whether you are shooting someone an email or sending them a DM on Linkedin, they will always be directed back to a newsroom. This keeps you professional and consistent and makes space for new modes of reaching out.
PR is also an industry in transition, gradually taking on complementary media activities like brand journalism, thought leadership, and content marketing. An online newsroom ties all this together in one central place and gives you a strong voice, so you can weather these changes.
Here are some key ways online newsrooms help your brand:
- Supports ‘Outbound’ PR
‘Outbound PR’ - the process of pitching your news to the media - is improved by an online newsroom as it keeps things consistent and of high quality. Links included in pitches direct media to the same place- no matter who in your team is sending it. They include all the supporting information that you wouldn’t put in an email. No one wants to receive a novel.
- Increases ‘Inbound’ PR
Online newsrooms have perhaps the most significant impact on Inbound PR. By providing everything a journalist would need to create a story independently, you make the whole scenario much more efficient for you both. This ‘self-service’ method of PR has a great return on investment; you lay the foundations with story ideas and assets, and journalists do the rest.
- Improves SEO
If someone Googles ‘who is the CEO’ of your company you don’t want them to find an old photograph of someone with a weird moustache who worked for you 10 years ago. A good online newsroom helps you control answers to people's questions. It also sends traffic to you rather than to your competitors, whilst doing a great job of boosting your domain. You can read more on how to leverage SEO in media relations below.
- Boosts brand credibility
You spend ages crafting the perfect pitch but when you send it you have a small tinge of worry or regret. If part of your worries are quality-related, a good online newsroom will solve this. It creates a space that you can feel proud of and have confidence in. You can’t amend a PDF, and you can’t fix typos in an email you’ve already sent, but you can constantly fine-tune a newsroom. This high quality makes you more credible, and cuts through the clutter of bad PR.
- Makes journalists happy
A good online newsroom demonstrates respect for journalists’ time, making them much more likely to cover you as a brand and to continue working with you. Strong media relationships are at the heart of any successful PR strategy, so a journalist’s experience is not something you can ignore.
- Saves PR teams time
Sometimes PR can feel like groundhog day, where you receive the same requests for logos (or headshots! Or contact details!) over and over and over again. An online newsroom scraps all that time-wasting- but is also great for journalists who are in a state of ‘flow’. They can quickly find the information they need on an online newsroom and continue with their story.
If you are working across agencies, countries, or teams, having everything in one place keeps things consistent. It stops tasks being done either by the wrong person or in the wrong way. You can then take those hundreds of collective hours you would have wasted on email chains and put them towards something more deserving of your talents.
- Controls the narrative
Controlling your narrative is key in crisis communications— and PR in general. It protects your brand safety and holds the media’s waning attention for longer. With a live version of your news, you can fix any errors or add details on the go, unlike a PDF where you can enjoy losing sleep over mistakes you may have made in an email. If you are working with multiple people it also ensures you are all using the same material- so anyone can open it wherever they are- and it will always look great.
We’ve created newsrooms for brands like Dolby, Heineken, Shimano, JBL, WeTransfer, VanMoof and many others. We'd love to show you what we can do, let's schedule a chat!
Examples of quality corporate newsrooms— that bring in results
WeTransfer has extended their colourful branding into their newsroom. The whole site is straightforward to navigate, making it easy for journalists to find the story or assets they need in seconds. The clear about section gives some extra context on brand identity and what products the company owns. Interestingly, with WeTransfer being a design-driven company, they've built a separate section showcasing their awards. The newsroom is set up separately from the rest of WeTransfer's website, entirely dedicated to its media contacts.
Titleist are a good example of what companies with physical products can do with their online newsrooms - by turning them into a fully comprehensive media centre. The advanced search within the media center makes it easy to find what you are looking for in seconds, despite the size.
In Dolby's newsroom, you'll find corporate news about all Dolby's products. In order to keep a clear overview, and give journalists an overview of product-specific news, all articles are segmented into different categories. There is also plenty of information for visiting investors, analysts and other stakeholders, linking to investor resources, executive leadership and corporate facts.
Essentially, the best newsrooms are built in collaboration with your media contacts, not just from input from your marketing team. What is it that journalists want to learn from our newsroom? How can we support them better than we currently do? What happens after journalists receive a press release? Ever asked your media contacts what they think of your newsroom? Or how they like the way you're currently providing them with news?
Not sure whether you should build a newsroom, or buy an off-the-shelf solution? We've created a whitepaper to give you some guidance.
Using SEO to make your news findable
Most journalists nowadays will say they hardly ever get their news ideas from press releases.
We’re seeing the same trend in quantitative studies. According to a 2018 research conducted under 500 journalists, only 3% of journalists state that they heavily rely on press releases. Three per cent. Roughly half of the journalists around the world said they don’t use press releases at all to find new story ideas.
While this is not the case for all industries (we’ve seen great results from clients working for big brands, and for niche industries like cycling) - this statistic has meant that PR people (like you) have had to completely change the way they get coverage.
SEO as a non-intrusive, inbound alternative to pitching
To put it simply, the traditional outbound way of doing PR - mass-send a press release to a massive list of media contacts - just got annoying. Overflowing inboxes and phones ringing off the hook do not create optimal working conditions, whether you’re a journalist or a Bengal tiger. It interrupts your flow. And, if it’s not personalised or highly relevant, it’s spam.
It was also annoying for people who work in PR, no one wants to be like your best friends’ younger brother, who despite constantly shouting and interrupting, is somehow always ignored and excluded (sorry Tom).
Because of this, public relations has become more of a pull than a push. Outbound PR - where you would pitch journalists via the phone or press release - is on the out.
We recently interviewed a few journalists to learn where they get their news, and how they'd like to receive updates.
Inbound PR on the other hand- helping the media find good content about you - is very much in.
“My network, my curated social feed and social media are my primary sources to find news.”
- Remy Ludo Gieling, Journalist and Editor in Chief, Sprout and MT.
▲ Curated news feed on Feedly.
How then, do I make my news findable?
When people find your news you want to give them the best possible answers to their questions. Online newsrooms are the home of those answers- a place where you control the narrative and keep things consistent and professional.
You safeguard your brand safety when you drive news to your site, as with any home base. Whatever the channel a journalist may reach out to you on, all roads lead back to your newsroom. So it’s wise to make sure it’s a good one.
Search engines, much like journalists, are becoming less and less susceptible to spam. Algorithms are much better at finding quality content and care more about your domain authority. There are many things you can do with your newsroom to help those algorithms (and the journalists that lead them there) find you.
In order to build findability, there are four components to take into account:
- Know your audience
If you want to start conversations with your content, you first need to know what your audience (journalists, in this case) wants to know about. This will require a little research of your own but once it is done, you can work out the best tactic and stories to reach them.
- Build a strong newsroom
You need to bundle all your news and media assets in an online environment, accessible to inbound press contacts.
You can start by looking at media requests; a big chunk of requests could be solved on the spot by having clear information in your newsroom (think images, videos, etc.). Also, you’d be surprised how much you’d learn from a chat with one of your media contacts. They’d be delighted to learn you’re working on a website dedicated to them.
If this seems like a massive task, or if there’s no way you’ll get your design and dev team together on this, we have built newsrooms for hundreds of brands all over the world. You can schedule a chat with us at the bottom of this page if you’d like to learn more about how we can help with this.
- Build inbound channels to deliver your news
Pro tip: We discovered when speaking to publishing houses that journalists curate their own news feeds. This cuts through the clutter and gets them to the quality content. With online newsrooms, you can create RSS feeds so that your news is included in that. You could also include an option for them to subscribe to your news.
- Leverage your SEO
Since a newsroom lives online and is publicly available, your news is accessible to anyone using a search engine. By leveraging SEO you’ll end up in journalists curated Google Newsfeeds and in search results when they’re doing research.
▲ Arnout Hellemans
We spoke to SEO expert Arnout Hellemans - who’s set up SEO strategies for brands like RBS, TNW and Leaseweb - for some top tips on how to leverage SEO in your media relations. Here are his seven actions an organisation should take to become more findable:
- Do your keyword research
- Think in questions, speak like a human
- Use synonyms
- Don't forget to tag your images
- Write strategic headlines
- Host news on your own domain
- Work with your SEO team
For detailed instructions on how to use these SEO tips, read the full piece on findability
How do I know if my SEO strategy is working?
Arnout recommends to focus on these two KPIs:
- (High quality) Press mentions
This one’s a no-brainer. If your strategy is working, you’ll see an increase in press mentions. That means your media contacts have more information to work with and there’s a lower threshold to find information about your company. This is because you’ve made beautiful media assets available and it’s very easy to get in contact with the PR team.
One of our customers, Dutch bicycle brand VanMoof, started to pick up multiple press mentions from magazines they had never been in contact with. That’s the moment they realised their strategy was working - there’s no way that would’ve happened without an online newsroom.
As a PR team, you’re building a brand. You’re building authority. And online, authority is based on backlinks. With every backlink to your website, you’re strengthening your company’s online authority.
How to work with and respond to the press
As the face and voice of your brand, a Spokesperson is the gatekeeper of your brand’s reputation. They are there to help you steer the ship during crises.
A good Spokesperson is a rare and special breed. They are at once a company and industry expert, a media specialist, and the most likeable person in the room. Having a good Spokesperson on side will do wonders for your media relations.
Spokespeople help turn companies from an ‘it’ to a ‘we’. Without the public’s understanding of what it is you do, and why, there will be a psychological barrier between you and your audience. For tips on Spokesmanship, we spoke to Hugo Stienstra, PR/Reputation manager for paints and coatings company AkzoNobel.
In this section we are going to look at:
The art of spokesmanship
“It's very important for companies to constantly tell people who you are; what you stand for, what products you make, what your morals and values are, what is going well in your organisation and what could be improved, and your plan to improve those things. Especially for big companies who are in the spotlight a lot.”
- Hugo Stienstra, Akzonobel
What does a Spokesperson’s average day look like?
Most spokespeople will tell you that their days are never the same, as the news moves fast they suddenly may have to clear their agenda and work on a story. Nevertheless, some of their main activities include:
Preparing interviews and events, aligning messaging with their team and company, writing media releases, planning upcoming stories, solving issues, answering media requests, preparing press events.
Hiring a Spokesperson? Use our Spokesperson scorecard to make sure you find your perfect candidate
On top of the above, a Spokesperson is always available, as they have to react to stories as soon and as proactively as possible.
“You have to be available 24 hours a day. And that's an important thing to note because some people won't want to do that. You can't say “sorry, I’m off”- because the story might come out the next day without your company's vision on things. This might damage its reputation, and protecting and maintaining the good reputation of your company is one of your key priorities. But, of course, that doesn't mean that I'm working the whole weekend. It just means that I am available. We have a media phone, and we are two spokespeople, so my colleague Joost and I rotate weekends. This way the media can reach us when it's really important.”
Do’s and don’ts of spokesmanship
The Do’s: 7 tips for efficient spokespeople
Effective Spokespeople aren't just born: they're also made. Here are some rules of thumb followed by the best and brightest in the industry:
- Do know your audience
Always assume your audience might be sceptical- if they already trust and like you, then you will have lost nothing by being prepared. If you come with the tools to win them over and succeed, you will leave a winner.
To understand what your audiences want or need from you, you will have to be familiar with their culture, the language they use, their beliefs, and the information they might already have or need.
Most of what your audience believes or knows about your organisation stems from your ability to quickly and effectively connect with them. To connect, you will need to make them the hero of your stories and use real world examples.
- Do ditch the jargon
For people to connect with a story, you will need to use the language of your audience. Using jargon alienates people (taking away that ‘we’ feeling) and clouds your message. You’d be surprised how much of the language you take for granted in your organisation is not used anywhere else.
As the conduit between your company and the outside world, your main job is to be understood. Make sure you use clear, concise, simple language. If you have to use concepts and jargon in a story, make sure you explain the terms. Not all reporters are experts in the industries they happen to be covering, so they will also appreciate plain English.
- Do show emotion
There is a reason companies hire a spokesperson and not a corporate bot- humans are more relatable. A spark of something- whether that’s humour, sympathy for people suffering misfortune, passion, or enthusiasm- is your humanity at work, which resonates with people.
- Do practice, practice, practice.
To be an effective spokesperson you constantly need to hone your communication skills. This will require good preparation, plenty of rehearsing, and opportunities to hear honest feedback. There are two areas you will need to work on:
- Getting your body language right: 55% of communication is non-verbal. This means you will have to practice interviews to make sure you are doing everything possible to get your message across. For some pointers on body language, click here.
- Nailing your delivery:
That other 38% of communication? You guessed it: it’s vocal. Delivering your message effectively helps you to be understood, which helps journalists out. Sometimes, reporters will be taking notes; help them out by including pauses, and speaking clearly and concisely so they don’t have to ask you to repeat.
When you answer questions, state your key point (more on that later) and emphasise it with your intonation and gestures. It’s worth recording yourself to identify any communication habits that need sharpening. Ask others for feedback too so nothing slips through the net. But most of all, don’t forget to breathe.
Anticipate questions and prepare answers
If you have a good knowledge of the issues facing your industry and what the journalist interviewing you tends to write about, you can anticipate what kind of questions you will be asked and prepare answers. This will make you feel more confident.
Every journalist is different, some will ask you to give a statement and ask questions at the end, whereas some will try and have a conversation. Preparing answers to challenging questions is a great Spokesperson technique. A journalist is much more likely to warm to someone who seems eager to answer all their questions, than someone blocking them at every turn.
Occasionally, you will be asked something you have not prepared for, but that’s ok. It’s perfectly acceptable to say “I don’t know, but I can find out and get back to you ASAP.” Just make sure you actually do.
“You can't only talk about positive things, you also have to talk honestly about the challenges your company faces. These topics are part of your business. If you only want to do an interview and answer happy questions, then don't do interviews, because journalists will always always ask challenging or difficult questions”
“You need to prepare answers for what your contribution towards decreasing carbon dioxide is for example, to be able to say, ‘well, this is the progress we've made so far, and in three years time we will be here.’ You have to show that you understand that you're part of society and that you take responsibility.”
Do follow your key messages
This is crucial. Before any meeting begins, jot down 3-5 key messages you want to hit, making sure it aligns with your company’s overall communication strategy. Touch upon them all in the interview. Do not add any more ideas as your point will become clouded, no matter how sophisticated your audience is.
When talking with journalists, it’s best to get your message across as soon as possible. Start with the conclusion (ie. your key messages) and work down, using facts only as examples. Rinse and repeat. The idea is that your messages are as quotable as possible. Then they can be turned into soundbites; which is why being explicit, accurate, and using positive action verbs is key to making news.
Try to stay on track with this by thinking of the headline you want to see. Bridging techniques (see below) can stop the conversation from straying too far from your key messages. If an interviewer's question is convoluted, make sure you break down multiple part questions for clarity.
Learn to bridge
Bridging is a skill that all good spokespeople have, it helps move the conversation back to your key messages. For some interviews you may not have a lot of time, so staying on topic is crucial.
This being said, don’t actively evade a journalist’s question, not only does it look bad, but it’s annoying for everyone involved, including the viewer. Do not risk seeming like a slimy politician, as there’s a reason the public trust in politics is at an all time low. If you have a good answer to a question, answer it.
▲ Prime minister Jacinda Ardern keeping her cool during an earthquake on live
television: "We're just having a bit of an earthquake here, Ryan."
The Don’ts: things to avoid as a Spokesperson
Anyone who has ever cringed while watching a TV interview could likely tell you what went wrong. Here’s how to avoid a communication car crash:
If you don’t know something, it’s OK to say so. Lying, in Spokesmanship, is a cardinal sin. In the internet age it is too easy to fact check. As a Spokesperson, it’s in your interest not to contribute to some of the more toxic communication strategies out there. But more importantly; telling the truth is the right thing to do.
Don’t say "no comment"
When you stonewall a reporter with “no comment”, or actively avoid questions it looks fishy at best and hostile at worst. Instead, give the real reasons you cannot answer something; like you don’t know, or you aren’t the right person to answer that question.
Don’t take things personally
A journalist, like you, is just trying to do their job. The questions they ask are directed at the company, not you. Equally, If your stories are being passed over, do not take this personally, it might just be a bad fit at that time. Being able to separate your personal and professional personas will help you be more effective.
“Not taking things personally is better for you and it's also better for your performance”
Don't get angry or defensive
Sometimes conversations will get heated, but it’s vital for you to always keep your cool. Your company reputation is at stake. Staying calm during conflict is what separates a master communicator from a jerk starting fights in a supermarket parking lot.
“Even if people are using not-so-friendly words with you- don't use them back. Stay professional.”
Don’t say 'off the record'
In the modern day there is no such thing as ‘off the record’. If you are having to say that, it probably means you should not be saying it in the first place. It’s also worth remembering that if an interview is over, chances are the mic is still recording, so stop talking.
A bad hypothesis could come back to haunt you, never say anything that you cannot be 100% sure about.
Make sure you clarify key points in the conversations when speaking to the media, it will help you understand each other better. A study of the 500 most common English words gave an average of 28 definitions per word- that’s a lot of scope for misinterpretation.
Don't make assumptions
By the same token, don’t assume a journalist always has it right, journalists are not immune to human error. If a reporter says something a little off key say “I’d have to verify that before I could respond to it”
Don't try to argue with or embarrass journalists
Trying to make a journalist look silly, or being antagonistic with them won’t do your image any favours. When you keep it classy and respectful, you are much more likely to get your message across.
Don't repeat negative comments
Negative comments can easily be turned into a soundbite and taken out of context. Repeating them breathes life into the statement. Try reframing the comment by using positive action verbs, or bridging back to your key messages.
Don’t be too demanding
When a journalist agrees to write a story about you, they are doing you a favour by giving you the opportunity to help tell it. Demanding that every one of your comments are edited, or that they don’t interview the competition, or even writing to a publication to insist on a particular reporter is a sure fire way to ruin a good relationship.
Don’t blame others
Passing the buck, especially when it's the competition, will lose you trust with your audience. It shows a lack of responsibility and pettiness, which harms your credibility.
Preparing for interviews
Whilst your key messages should always be the same, you will have to adapt your approach slightly depending on the format. In interviews, strong pre-existing relationships with journalists will really shine through.
There are some general rules you should observe before an interview, whatever the format:
- Find out who will do the interview
- Agree on the subjects beforehand
- Set limits on time if necessary
- Ask who else has already been interviewed on the subject (or will be)
- Make sure you know the goal of the interview
“Print and live interviews are very different of course. With print what you’re saying isn’t immediately broadcasted, so if you don’t have an answer to a certain question, you can look it up and come back to the journalist with a good response after the interview.”
Here are some pointers for different formats:
Preparing for a phone interview:
- Make sure you know when you are being recorded (assume the whole thing is recorded)
- Ask for feedback from journalists to see that they understand
- Double check who is on the other end of the line
- Double check where and when the info is being used
- Explain jargon and spell out tricky names/words
- Agree on the time beforehand
- Ask beforehand if you can read the article before publication
Preparing for a radio interview:
- Try to avoid saying things like ‘ummm, ahhh, kinda, you know” (practice speaking without these words in role play)
- Stick to your key messages- radio tends to be less in depth than print
- Use some intonation here- without body language you will need to express yourself with just your voice. Avoid speaking in monotone, it will send the listener to sleep.
Preparing for a television interview:
- Try not to look at yourself in the monitor (see if you can practice on a set beforehand)
- Look at the reporter, not the camera (unless the tell you otherwise)
- Ask for a chair with no wheels/ that does not swivel
- As explained above, speak in soundbites (10-20 seconds)
- Pause after long answers
- Don’t do weird things with your arms
- Do an earphone check and ask what to do if it falls out
What to do if you find yourself in a crisis situation?
Whilst we would love it if all the issues we communicate about were positive, in the modern world, it’s not very likely. At some point, your organisation will need to manage crises; whether that’s communicating on an internal issue, or giving a response to an external event. Companies are expected to take a stance on important social issues, if they don’t, people simply won’t buy into them. The 2018 Edelman Earned Brand study showed that 64% of consumers around the world now buy on belief.
Crisis communication requires some finesse, but there are some general rules to follow. According to research, the key to responding effectively is to respond quickly, accept responsibility (if there is some), and communicate from the top.
“A PR person can really help you in a crisis situation. Companies need to have someone who tells their story well and can guide people internally to tell that story. It should be someone who knows how the media works, and what questions journalists are likely to ask. What might the sensitive questions be? They need to prepare for them.”
- Hugo Stienstra, AkzoNobel
In order to prepare for a crisis, it’s important to have a plan. Imagine all the scenarios that could happen. Think about how you will respond, and who will be responsible for each action. You can never quite predict how a crisis will unfold, but with a clear plan and thorough training, you are much more likely to respond well. Below is the timeline of a crisis, and all the things you will have to consider at each stage:
Train yourself and your staff
Think of training as stage rehearsals for a play- a well practiced theatre group is much more likely to nail their performance when the curtain rises. Conduct role plays, develop clear company protocol, and write thorough briefing books. Remember, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
“It’s important to train for crisis situations. Think of issues that might happen. Everyone who will be involved should do trainings: so that if a real crisis comes, it’s not the first time you’ve thought the response and the way of working through. You don’t want to have to think on the spot.”
- Hugo Stienstra, AkzoNobel
Do research and anticipate crisis
By understanding the challenges your industry (and the world) is facing, you can form a pretty good idea of what issues are likely to crop up. You will need to keep your ear to the ground. Listen to consumers, keep up with the news, read about the competition; all these activities are worth your time.
“There are crises that can be foreseen because they are existing issues in society. So you need to know the topics in popular culture that people have emotions about, what their tone of voice is, and see if they are related to your business or not.”
“Alongside social media, you can sense what is happening in the world through media releases, by seeing what does or doesn't get picked up. There are several tools that can help you listen to what is said about your company and brands and what the tone of voice and the share of voice is. And of course, you can Google- but Google doesn't give you everything”
If your company finds itself in a crisis, act quickly- it is one of the key things that will regain trust with the public. Crisis breeds an especially critical audience, so it is best to take every opportunity to redeem yourself.
“Always try to be in the lead of communication. It's better. It's best to proactively communicate yourself, instead of others communicating for you because you were silent or too late.”
Tap into your network
During crisis moments, you will feel the benefits of the relationships you have with the media very keenly, as you will find yourself with allies.
“Your relationship with a journalist is key in moments of crisis. If the journalist knows you they will give you more time to provide an answer to something, instead of just publishing immediately.”
Acknowledge uncertainty or fear
The very nature of crises is often uncertain. It may seem counterintuitive, but expressing the unknown will boost your authority. It’s fine not to know everything, just as long as you take action in the areas you do know.
Communicate the facts
Only tell people what you truly know at that moment, not what you think you know. A crisis is not a time for speculation or assumptions, nor is it a time for dishonesty. Good reputations are built upon truthfulness, so stick to the facts.
Explain that there is a process in place
To truly show that you have understood a crisis, you will have to present the plan you have made to overcome it. Everyone makes mistakes. But showing that you are learning from those mistakes, staying humble, and expressing wishes for the future, is how you make up for it.
Follow your protocol or briefing books
It may be tempting to stray the course when a chorus of voices enter a situation, but plans are put in place on good grounds. You and your team will have spent a long time thinking about possible scenarios and their best responses, so trust in your work and follow your plan.
Feel the room
That being said, if you anticipated speaking to a particular audience and you are instead faced with an entirely different one, it is wise to adapt your plan to new realities. Bringing a bouncy castle to a gathering of people with pitchforks is not a sensible idea. Exercise some common sense.
Follow up on issues
If your audience or the media asks you questions you are not able to answer during the crisis, make sure you follow up as soon as you have the information. Being reliable and punctual shows respect, which is the foundation of a good reputation.
No matter how well you plan, there will always be situations you couldn’t have dreamed up. Make sure every mistake is a learning experience and you update your protocol. Only then will your communication strategy be the best around.
How to measure your PR efforts
After all of this you should be left with the million-dollar question: how the heck do I measure and report my results to my boss? And which results should I report?
▲ Still from the Big Bang Theory.
Setting goals and measuring results
There are quite a few articles out there about how you should measure your PR strategy. Many of these are quite subjective because they’re promoting their own software. Some are just plain wrong. We don’t sell software to measure your PR efforts, but we do work with over 300 communications teams, so here’s our honest take on measuring PR.
First of all, we think it would be a bit silly for us to decide how you should measure the success of your PR efforts. Success is completely dependent on the role PR plays in your marketing strategy. It’s dependent on the goals you set. You can generate thousands of visitors to your website, but that isn’t worth much if your objective is generating sales, and none of the visitors buy anything.
Before we move on to examples of how you can measure the results of your PR efforts, we need to move this conversation into the geeky realm of measurement. There are too many misunderstandings about measuring marketing and PR efforts, which might hurt your company and your team’s morale. To formulate good measures and recognise the bad ones, you need to know about objectives, lag measures, and lead measures.
Objectives, lag measures and lead measures
When one of our colleagues had just started at pr.co, our CEO gave him a book: the four disciplines of execution, by Sean Covey. The book helped him to understand how to formulate measures that really show a team how their campaigns are performing, instead of killing team morale. If you’re a manager or reporting to one: we highly recommend checking it out. For now, we’ll share the most relevant learning: objectives, lead measures, and lag measures.
Lag measures track the success of your objective, or your most important goal. You cannot influence lags directly. Lags are measures you spend time losing sleep over. They are things like revenue, profit, brand awareness, and customer satisfaction. They are called lag measures, because by the time you see them increase or decrease, that what drove the change is already passed. You can’t do anything to fix them, they are history.
Lead measures track the critical activities that drive (or lead) to the lag measure. They predict the success of the lag measure. The big difference with lag measures is that lead measures are directly influenced by your team: they are things like new contacts, news announcements sent out, completed campaigns. It’s very important to focus on lead measures you can directly influence. Lag measures are often easier to measure, and they represent the result we ultimately want, but without executing on lead measures they will bear nothing but frustration.
TLDR; lead measures are the buttons you can turn to make a difference, lag measures show if you turned the right buttons. Find the right buttons, and focus on those.
To help you get on the right track, here are some examples of objectives, and its corresponding lead measures and lag measures.
Defining a goal for your PR strategy
What role do you think media relations should play in your marketing strategy? Build awareness? Persuade people that are already tempted to buy your product? Enter new markets?
Each goal comes with its own lags and leads, so pick the goal that’s really important for your company: your so-called wildly important goal. Don’t get tempted and pick heaps of goals - the key to great results is focus. Unlike Rain man, your team (and you!) have limited brain space; the more focus you allocate to a project, the better it gets. By picking too many goals, you probably won’t achieve any of them.
Ask anyone successful in (scaling up a) business what advice they give to other teams, and 9 out of 10 will respond with focus.
How to measure if you’re on the right track
When defining lag measures, your vision as a communications strategist comes in. If my goal is increasing brand awareness, how am I going to know I’m on the right track? Here are a few examples of lag measures in media relations strategies:
- Targeted coverage: Count the number of publications you’ve been featured in. Just be mindful that not every publication has the same value, and that the value of the same publication varies for each company. A publication can have an immense reach, but that isn’t necessarily the right reach. You could make a bucket list of magazines, blogs, newspapers, etc you really want to get published in and weigh those publications differently.
- Backlinks: We spoke with an SEO expert who shared tips and advice on leveraging SEO for PR professionals. His advice for measurement: backlinks. As a PR team, you’re building a brand. You’re building authority. And online, authority is measured with backlinks. Building backlinks is hard work, and there are no shortcuts. Backlinks from syndication websites, that you landed by dropping a press release in a random newswire service, don’t count.
- Media value: Also known as Advertising Equivalent Value (AVE). It’s a measure many companies use, and it’s one which we have mixed feelings about. Media value calculates how much the real estate on a blog, magazine or newspaper would have cost if you had bought that same amount of pixels or paper through their sales department (as an ad). Problem: media value is defined by companies like Google, or sales teams at newspapers and magazines. As stated before, media value is completely dependent on whether your audience reads the outlet you’re mentioned in. A review on a super-nichey blog might just be worth more than a byline in The Sun. Also, AVE compares apples with oranges; advertising and PR are simply not the same thing, therefore an advertising metric should not be used to measure PR. Our opinion: ditch it.
- Product reviews: The nice thing about reviews is that they reach people that are in the ‘consideration’ or ‘selection’ phase: they’re considering a product, or in the process of selecting the right brand. A good review here, especially one with a backlink, will attract a group of people that are highly likely to convert into customers. They’re positioned at the bottom of a sales funnel, perhaps not your sales funnel, but your competitor’s. Reach this group, and you’ll definitely see the effects on your conversion rates and bottom line.
- Quality of your pitches: Doing a lot of network building and pitching? Measure the quality of your subject line with your total open rates, measure the quality of your pitch with the click-through rates in your email (make sure you link to an online news announcement or additional material!) and the response rate.
- Leads: If a lead clicks on a link in a press mention, and converts immediately or later, you can see that in Google Analytics. GA has a tab named assisted conversions, where you’ll see if any of your press mentions have been a touchpoint before a visitor converted into a lead. Keep in mind: not all leads click on a link, some visit your website directly by typing in your domain or looking you up on Google.
- Visitors: Pageviews - this one’s easy to measure, right? Now, a boost in page views is great, it makes you feel good. But it’s not a good metric; because it’s not correlated to business success. There are many of these easy-to-measure metrics that make you feel good but shouldn’t be used to make decisions. They’re called vanity metrics, more on that later.
Which measures should my team work with?
Lead measures will help your team focus on the right things. Lead measures depend on the lag measures you set: again, they’re the buttons you turn to see a change in your lags.
To give you a good idea of lead measures you could work with, here are a few examples:
If you’re building or expanding a (new) network of press contacts:
- Published x number of articles on your blog or thought-leadership platform
- Connected on social with x number of press contacts on LinkedIn & Twitter
- Shared x number of news announcements, blogs and press mentions on LinkedIn and Twitter
- Engage with press contacts’ articles
If you have news to get published:
- Send x number of targeted pitches to your contacts
If your goal is to build backlinks:
- Reach out to x number of (press) mentions and ask if they’re willing to add a link
- Build collateral that incentivises press contacts to link back to.
By choosing the right lag measures, your team will know how to move forward. Clarity is key.
“Once a team is clear about its lead measures, their view of the goal changes.”
Chris McChesney, co-author of The 4 Disciplines of Execution
And here are a few examples of lag measures for each channel of the PESO model.
- Assisted or direct conversions: for paid media partnerships it’s important to track how people are interacting with the content. To do this, look at assisted and direct conversions from the paid article. This means that the paid partnership was one of the touchpoints that caused the lead to convert. This does ot necessarily mean they converted into a customer. You can also measure conversions from website visitor to subscriber, to content downloader, to demo requester. Pick the conversion that makes most sense for the audience you’re reaching, and the campaign you’re running.
Bear in mind that not everyone clicks on the links in these articles, so you might miss a few. That’s just the way it is. However, do ask your analytics team to keep an eye on sudden (unattributed) conversion increases when you’re running paid partnerships.
Reminder: traffic or pageviews are vanity metrics. More on that below.
- Assisted or direct conversions are also a good measure to check success for earned media. If one of your leads’ touchpoints was a referral from a publication you landed, then the publication has contributed to the conversion. These could be conversions to newsletter subscribers, demos or even customers.
- Backlinks: any publication you land with a backlink to your website will lead to an increase in domain authority.
- Engagement: retweets, comments, shares.
- Assisted or direct conversions.
- Time spent on site: gives you an indication of the quality of your traffic, are people sticking around? Or leaving as soon as they can?
- Publications landed without a touchpoint with the press team (this can be attributed to the newsroom!)
- Number of media kit downloads
- If you offer a way for press to subscribe to your news: the number of subscribers. (or conversion to subscribers)
Common problems with measuring results
Now there are a few problems with measuring results: they’re often quite difficult to measure. A few common problems are:
- Vanity metrics
Vanity metrics are things you can measure that simply don’t matter. They’re easily changed or manipulated, and they don’t bear a direct correlation with numbers that speak to business success. Pageviews, for instance, don’t necessarily tell you that your target audience is finding your website; it could also mean that an army of strangers accidentally rolled onto your website. They’ll be leaving the page as soon as they can, or burying your customer support team under the craziest requests and questions you’ve ever read.
▲ Example of a random support request we've received.
Examples of vanity metrics are page views, impressions, and likes. Why would so many off-the-shelf analytics and reporting tools show you these vanity metrics then? Because they make their users feel good.
When selecting the right leads and lags, you should use metrics that correlate with business success.
Instead of page views, use conversion rate from visitors to trials, or from visitors to sign-ups.
- Isolating the effect of your PR campaign
Press campaigns almost always go live at the same time as all kinds of different marketing campaigns. It is quite tricky to isolate the effect of your PR campaign specifically, between all of these streams of traffic from various sources. A backlink certainly helps but doesn’t completely solve the issue.
- Measuring the effect of offline press mentions
And finally, there are offline press mentions from traditional media like newspapers, radio, and print magazines. You will not find these in your online analytics - you might find an indication of success, for instance when you see a big traffic spike, or spike in conversions after a radio interview, but it won’t be iron-clad.
- Only measure what matters: Focus on your most important objective, and formulate lag measures and lead measures based on that objective. There is much, much, much more you could measure, but if you’re not using the data it’s nothing but a distraction.
- Behind every number is a person: It’s easy to forget that behind those numbers, there are people. Statistics are just a way to measure and analyse the opinions and behaviour of large groups of people. See something interesting in your data and not sure what it means? Pick up the phone, or send an email and call your customers/leads/press contacts. You’ll be surprised by how much you’ll learn.
- Don’t get distracted with vanity metrics: Only use measures that can be correlated to your business success. It might require some manual work to measure them, which is normal. Many off-the-shelf analytics platforms provide you with metrics that make you feel great— but don’t help you make good decisions.
It takes a village
At pr.co we believed in the collective power of our industry. This guide to media relations is testament to that shared knowledge. Every PR veteran we spoke to agreed: when we pool our resources, we all do better.
Thank you to all the PR pros and journalists who were generous enough to offer their insights. You can get to know them here:
Yessi Bello Perez is a Senior Writer at The Next Web.
Yessi leads the writing efforts at TNW’s Growth Quarters, which gives insightful takes on scaling your business. Also working as a panel moderator and event host, Yessi was featured in Computer Weekly's ‘Most Influential Women in UK Tech’ longlist for two years running (2018 and 2019).
Yessi’s passions and expertise lie in business, tech, and innovation. For this guide, Yessi gave us her take on pitching journalists.
Marta Tomczak is Global Head of Communications at MediaMonks/S4C.
In the last 15 years, she has shaped strategies, narratives and positioning for C-level executives, (global) brands, creative agencies, and multinational corporations.
Marta’s passions lie in digital technology and innovation. Her experience is defined by developing and delivering strategic, 360 communications campaigns that help achieve reputational and business objectives. For this guide she talked to us about collaborating on a story with journalists.
Connect with Marta on LinkedIn.
Hugo Stienstra is Reputation Manager/Global Spokesperson for paints and coatings company AkzoNobel.
After 12 years as a Spokesperson at several multinationals, including his current position at one of the Netherlands’ oldest and largest companies, we dare say Hugo is one of the best in his field.
For this guide, Hugo has taught us everything there is to know about the art of spokesmanship.
Bieke Groenink is Freelance PR & Communications Consultant and PR manager for GoSpooky.
Bieke is an insightful communicator with an affinity for all things visual. She works with brands and agencies to develop powerful comms strategies, translate concepts into relevant content, and tell stories with impact.
With a background in reputation management and PR, Bieke advised us on the art of pitching to journalists.
Sprout focuses on innovative, fast-growing startups and scaleups; MT brings the best insights about management and leadership for top talent in serious organisations.
In his role, Remy speaks daily with innovators and subject matter experts. He therefore knows better than anyone the opportunities and pitfalls of business management and entrepreneurship.
From the moment pr.co started, Remy has been available for feedback and good conversations. Being able to get a journalist perspective on a PR tool is invaluable - thank you, Remy!
For this guide, Remy gave us insights into the daily realities of an Editorial newsroom, as well as advice on how to pitch a publisher.
Alex Ortiz is Senior Photo Editor at the Guardian/Observer, Sunday Times Magazine, and Save the Children.
As an experienced visual editor of award-winning print and digital content, Alex has commissioned photography and illustration for print, web and social media for a wide range of clients, as well as produced video content for social media platforms. Currently, she leads picture research projects for large serialized editorial projects for national newspapers.
Alex has collaborated with various curators to coordinate exhibitions for the likes of London College of Fashion and Save The Children as well as being a judge on photography competitions and portfolio reviews.
For this guide, Alex gives advice on how to use photography to get coverage.
Agnes Bilik, is a Podcaster & Content Creator and founder of Raw & Real media.
As the host on 3 podcasts, Agnes uses her expertise to help people start their podcasting journey. For this guide she talked to us about why podcasting is such a powerful medium.
Jon Woodroof is Owner & Founder of Twotone Amsterdam
Jon Woodroof is founder of Twotone: providing Sales, PR and creative consultancy for startups and the cycling industry. Originally from Atlanta, Jon moved to Amsterdam 8 years ago. Initially working in sales roles for B2B and Saas companies, Jon started Twotone four years ago, and has been helping cycling brands with PR and sales. Check out TwoTone's newsroom here, and connect with Jon on Instagram or sign up for his newsletter if you like cycling.
For this guide, Jon gave us tips on how to network.
Guy van Koolwijk is Online & Communications creative at Twotone Amsterdam and KROOKs, as well as Label manager at The Other Eye. Guy is not just an excellent PR professional, he's also a very talented DJ. Connect with Guy on LinkedIn, or check out his livesets on Soundcloud. Do check out his music, they're great to listen to while working.
For this guide Guy gave us tips on how to pitch journalists.
Matías Rodsevich is a PR specialist and Founder & CEO of PRLab. Matias has +10 years of PR & Marketing experience in B2B, B2C, technology and product communications across corporate, startup and agency environments. He now works as CEO & Founder of PRLab, an integrated marketing agency specialized in Scaleups and the design industry.
Matias and pr.co go way back. Together with one of our colleagues, Sjors, Matias hosts community events for the Amsterdam PR community; PRLab. It's a community of 1000+ PR and Marketing professionals that get together to discuss PR in the digitalization era every 2 months. We can't wait to get back to live events, once this global pandemic is over.
For this guide Matias advised us on how to create a network of media contacts.
Fiola Foley is Director of Media Relations at Komoot, a navigation system that allows you to plan and experience authentic outdoor adventures. Fiola has worked for BMC Switzerland, Appway and Swarovski. She's a true powerhouse.
Fiola has a passion for carefully crafted stories and their well-executed delivery through PR, Digital and Print media, which has enabled her to build a career that is as much a lifestyle as it is a job. She is one of the few people who says "I love my job" on a daily basis.
For this guide, Fiola advised us on creating unforgettable events for media contacts.
Max Pater is the co-founder of Tosti Creative, an independent creative agency that creates extraordinary experiences and stories worth sharing. Max was behind some events that have created a lot of buzz: like a disco supermarket and a mass tomato fight in Amsterdam's city center. At the heart of everything they do, is a love for people.
For this guide, Max advised on how to create remarkable event that people actually want to go to.
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