Friday, July 6, 2012

It is still (and always will be) the news business

Posted by Mike Lizun
NEWS HOOK: A key way to catch the big one
Unfortunately for PR professionals, we don't get to decide what is news. Only the media determine what is worthy of publishing. So just because your client is, say, moving locations, doesn't make it news -- especially if the company is a smaller player in its industry. However, PR professionals can still get media coverage for their smaller clients if they tie these companies' stories to a news hook.

I'll give you an example I encountered a few days ago with a tech client. Massive thunderstorms in the mid-Atlantic shut down the Amazon Cloud last Friday night. I woke up early Saturday to an even earlier email sent from my colleague (and partner in geeky tech news), Rich Levin. His email told our team about the Amazon Cloud outage, which knocked offline some of the most popular services and websites, including Netflix, Pinterest, and Foursquare.

While working a few angles to offer opinions and expert commentary for some clients, I contacted a reporter from TechCrunch who had covered the outage. She appreciated the information and data I provided, and said she might be able to use it in a follow-up article.

Later that day, it hit me. Our client in the cloud application performance space was issuing a Series C venture capital round on Monday. Amazon Cloud outage + cloud app and testing client = news hook!

I contacted the reporter with the financing news. I pointed out that the information was unrelated to the conversation we were having. But given the nature of the news she was covering, here is a company that is receiving a $5 million boost to help with problems just like this outage.

She recognized this, and agreed to cover the financing news. So with a TechCrunch story posted (the #1 media target for this client and this news), the client's funding was tied into one of the biggest stories of the year: How the Amazon Cloud outage will impact cloud computing.

In this case, we were working to secure coverage for a smaller tech company that doesn't have the name recognition of a Google, Facebook, or Apple. Tying the company's story to a major industry development was the key to securing media coverage.

So if you have a smaller tech client announcing news, it is still a good idea to tie it to something bigger than the news you are putting out. Media want big stories from major companies, because more often than not, the smaller tech companies are selling to the larger ones. The logic is simple. Media want to grab eyeballs, build clicks, and generate shares across social media platforms.

Make your clients' stories big, trendy, and most of all, newsworthy. Sometimes the news hook you need is right in front of you. Other times it could arise after several days, months, or years. But when the news hook is there, it's crucial to recognize it and put it to good use.
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