If your company is launching something newsworthy and you want to gain maximum exposure, you’ll need to start planning well before launch day. As a B2B PR agency, we’ve run more media outreach campaigns than we can count, and we have some advice to help make sure your campaign launch is a success.
Step 1: Plan your team
The first step toward getting your company’s name in the headlines is to assemble a crack team. Work out what roles you’ll need and who is ideally suited for each. You’ll need people to:
- Write – seasoned copywriters are the best for this.
- Call the print and broadcast media to pitch the story – experienced PR pros are ideal for this.
- Build the media list – this should be a team effort, and they will need input from the pitching team.
- Record results.
- Coordinate the whole operation.
- Produce any collateral – images, logos, photographs, etc.
Step 2: Check your date
Sometimes you have no say in when your campaign will launch because it’s tied to other business activity that cannot be moved. However, it’s important that you understand:
- What other activity is taking place that day that might take precedence on the media agenda.
- Dates or events that might tie in nicely with your story and make it easier to sell to the media.
It’s always better to time your story strategically, rather than be surprised on the day when another story breaks and takes all the attention away from your campaign.
When searching for media hooks, look out for:
- Special days or weeks, such as World Environment Day or London Tech Week.
- Anniversaries, such as 100 years since the establishment of the League of Nations.
- Regular news stories, such as the monthly consumer price index announcement.
Step 3: Create your media list
Building an effective media list is a critical but often neglected step toward the success of a campaign. Start by building a long list of outlets from the team’s recommendations, your own understanding of the media, previous coverage, online searches, social media, your media database and anywhere else you can think of. Collect the contact details of individual journalists, and sort them into sectors such as tech, retail, and finance. Don’t forget to include freelancers, too.
Research every journalist and understand their specific niche and expertise. Look at their past work to find whether they focus on news and or thought leadership, and who might offer interview and video opportunities. If they aren’t a good fit for this campaign, set them aside for the future. Divide the outlets into the top five for each sector, and then into first and second tier priorities. This is your media list. It’s a dynamic document so be sure to update it as you go.
Step 4: Create your story angles and gather your assets
Your campaign planning would have started ages ago, but now it’s time to get into the specifics. Once you’ve established where you hope to get published, next you need to determine what you hope to publish specifically. This means developing the news story and media release well before launch day and collecting all your assets, including photos, case studies, and interviewee information. It’s also a smart move to prepare thought leadership angles that can be pitched once the news element is over.
Step 5: Get in touch with your priority list
Reach out to the top five or so journalists in advance of the launch. These are the people who you really want to run your story, so it’s worth having an informal chat with them about it. Do they want an exclusive? What do they need you to do to make it more likely they will take it?
Step 6: Prep your social story
Social is a critical element of media outreach, and it’s important to prepare. Plan your blog and social media posts for the day and begin writing them. Will they use video? Will they use native video or link to a video hosted elsewhere? Ensure that you have all of your assets – thumbnails, different versions of the video, and so on – ready to go. Consider who needs to be @mentioned in your social posts, possibly the journalists from the top five publications who you are hoping will carry your story or any partners or customers who have been involved in developing the story.
Step 7: Prep your team
Your team needs to know the plan inside and out. Brief them and answer any questions they might have in the days leading up to the launch, before you start pitching. Make sure that the launch date is on the company calendar and ensure that all colleagues (even those not on the media relations team) know to provide social support – leaving comments, liking posts, and sharing them, too. This will give your content a boost in the eyes of the all-powerful algorithm and increase the chance that more people see it. A good tip is to launch the story at around 8am and to get everyone in your company to engage with it on social within the first 60 minutes – this dramatically increases the chance of your story going viral on social.
Step 8: Final preparations
With launch day fast approaching, it’s time to put all of your plans into action. Your team should begin by pitching your tier one (highest priority) media outlets. Make sure to keep a record in your pitching database so that nobody accidentally pitches the same outlet twice, and so you know who to follow up with. Once tier one is done, start reaching out to tier two.
On launch day itself, the team will be busy managing and coordinating interviews and ensuring that journalists have everything they need, but they’ll also need to find time for social media. If it’s part of your plan, launch day is also when the press release should go out on a newswire. These are services which disseminate press releases directly to various outlets (we’re not big fans of newswires but sometimes they have a place). Wrap up the launch day media outreach campaign by measuring early results, and make sure you have a plan for quantifying results in the long term.
Step 9: After launch day
Next, follow up with any media that hasn’t managed to run the story yet, and thank those who did. Measure and report all of the publications, broadcasters, social interaction, and traffic to your site generated by the story.
Step 10: You’re not done yet – thought leadership
Finally, once the buzz around your hugely successful initial announcement has settled, it’s time to start pitching the thought leadership angles to the outlets that you selected earlier. These are pieces where experts from the company opine on topics in their industry, ideally topics tangentially related to the core news story, to improve both their profile and the company’s (and often to generate valuable links). This can help keep the announcement in people’s minds as part of the long tail of your media outreach strategy. Prepare a few more opportunities to publish your blog and video on relevant dates, continue to measure any further coverage you generate from these thought leadership angles on social media, and celebrate a job well done.