Back to Basics

By Matter

As newsrooms at print newspapers continue to shrink, we’re seeing an increased use of syndicated content in place of locally-written coverage. In addition, there are some topics that simply no longer have a reporter devoted to them, or have one reporter as opposed to two or three. For example, the Providence Journal no longer has a reporter assigned to reviewing consumer electronics. If, as a PR practitioner, you’re focused on getting that big hit in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, this isn’t as big a problem, but for those clients whose needs include substantial regional coverage, it presents a challenge.

Or is it an opportunity?

Too often, when we’re conducting outreach around “cool” products, particularly gadgets such as the latest smart phone, we’re lulled into a repetitive pattern: pitch to technology reporter. Send reporter device for review. Receive coverage. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. But when met with the reply, “I’m sorry. We no longer have a reporter who reviews devices,” we need to rearrange our thinking and tap into our creativity. This is where what you learned in that communications/journalism/marketing class comes into play, the classic Who? What? When? Where? Why? Who is going to be affected by this device hitting the market? When and where will they find it most useful to their daily lives? Why should this be of interest to them?

This means moving beyond straight-forward coverage of the technology and into coverage of the end-user’s experience with that technology. Using mobile phones as an example: Pitching a virtually indestructible cell phone? Why not reach out to that Mommy blogger (particularly those affiliated with major regional publications)), letting her know there’s a cell phone that can survive her 3 year-old’s curiosity? Recently read a regional columnist’s musing about his generation’s wanting to stick to a “vanilla” phone but acknowledging the convenience of texting? What about offering him a “step up” from his basic phone, while not entering full-on phone-that-can-make-you-breakfast territory?

The products and services our clients provide almost always have an impact on someone beyond their core audience. Think about the end-user, or the customers of the end-user. Then find a reporter who writes for that audience. State your case clearly and concisely, referencing relevant past work by the reporter to better peak their interest and to let them know you’re not employing the ‘spray and pray’ approach Melissa referred to in her August 12 post. Employ some of that creativity Colleen referred to on July 23. Secure coverage. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.