How to Build Buzz When the News Well Has Run Dry

We’ve all been there. Those times when we wait and hope that our clients will bring us new, juicy fodder: a product launch, an event, or some big partnership that will get the phones (or more likely, our email) buzzing with interest from the media.

But we are only kidding ourselves, because those days are over! As PR professionals, we can’t afford to wait for our clients to bring us news. Our job is to build buzz constantly, even when the news well is dry!

At Zer0 to 5ive, we have become masters at this much-needed and desired skill. Listed below are a few tips we use on our teams. Hopefully, you’ll find one or more that you haven’t tried yet and can add them to your media relations toolkit.

1. Think like a journalist. Ask yourself, what story does the journalist want to tell? Would this subject line grab gain attention? And what are the ingredients I need to tell this story? Also, think visually! Visuals help journalists with context. The media loves statistics that serve as proof points. Also, are there multiple sources the journalist would need to tell the story? If so, do your best to connect them to all the right people.

2. Leverage unique stories of executives. Does your client have a unique management style, a cool work culture, or an interesting story about how they got started? Leverage these assets to secure executive Q&As.

3. Explore local angles. Local journalists love a good story about how a company or entrepreneur is impacting people living in their own backyards. Explore local broadcast opportunities, especially if you have good visuals.

4. Schedule media days. Some old school tactics still live on in modern day pitching, and one of those is a good, old-fashioned media days. Schedule time for executives to meet face-to-face with top media targets, even if just for a coffee and introduction. Your client may get to pitch their company and tell the bigger story that often doesn’t come across in a simple phone call or email.

5. Make relationship-building calls. Not every phone call to a reporter needs to be a pitch. Build a relationship with the media! Call because you want to see what they are working on and help out with a source, even when it’s not for your own self-interest. Add them on Twitter and engage in conversation.

6. Host periodic sourcing sessions. Meet with client executives (outside the Communications department) to uncover news and angles you may not otherwise know about. Interview sales teams who are in the trenches. They can see trends happening before they are mainstream and can tell you what a customer’s pain points are as well as their needs.

7. Expand coverage to verticals where possible. Once you have generated awareness in the top business or tech press, leverage case studies and customer testimonials where your client’s product or service is generating positive results and pitch to the relevant vertical media outlets

8. Conduct rapid response pitching. Create Google alerts for industry and competitor news so you can stay on top of what’s happening in your client’s space. Look for the opportunity to follow up with media through a rapid response pitch that features a new story angle (including your client, of course!)

What tactics do you use to gain media coverage in slow news periods? Let us know in the comments section below!

Post by Colleen DeVine
Zer0 to 5ive Director