Tag Archives: Business Press

Think Business Press is Mission Impossible?

Commentators and pundits in the media like to point out that times have changed, and that the way to a splashy business feature for your client is not the same today as, say, 3-5 years ago.  To some extent, that’s true, but it’s also beside the point.  There may be a few new rules to observe, and they may complicate your life, but when has that not been true?  So let’s forget all that and focus on the here and now.

Let me share a few observations from my experience with our account teams in scoring coverage in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, and other top outlets: such as this Forbes feature on software-testing firm Tricentis, or this WIRED feature on networking technology firm Barefoot Networks.

Tell a story.  One of the top network industry editors recently told a client of mine that “At the end of the day, I’m just a storyteller.”  In fact, the best business and trade editors and reporters are just that!  Those are the folks who either:
NO FOLD ICON 15x15  Take your pitch, envision the storyline behind it and write that story
NO FOLD ICON 15x15  Take your pitch, dump your storyline and write one of their own, or…
NO FOLD ICON 15x15  Reject your pitch.  So, never forget the storyline!  A pitch without a storyline is boring.

Case in point:  too many pitches by PR practitioners neglect to state the problem their client solves, and for whom.  And yet the problem is the core of the storyline!  Neglect it at your peril.  If you don’t know the problem, or can’t articulate it, don’t start pitching until you do.

Find the beat.  The ranks of business editors and reporters have thinned in the last few years, threatening to load more beats on the backs of the remaining staffers.  Those staffers who survive end up with unimaginable loads and responsibilities, which means that fewer and fewer pitches make the cut.  It’s simple math.  Worse yet, your client’s market or technology may fall between reporters’ beats rather than squarely within one, and the inevitable reply to your pitch is “Sorry, not my beat.”  (Left unsaid is this: “And nobody else’s beat either.”)

Too many pitches by PR practitioners neglect to state the problem their client solves, and for whom. Click To Tweet

Well then, it’s time to move on unless you can refashion your story to one the editor wants.  Better yet, take a look at the publication’s roster of contributing writers, one of whom might be a specialist in a topic suitable to your client.  Then go for it!

Find supporting data.  Would you buy a car without examining its “supporting data”?  Or course not.  And you don’t have to.  The sticker on the side window is replete with data.  Nor would a business reporter buy a pitch without supporting data. In the minds of reporters, data equates to either validation or proof – and may give your pitch enough credibility to get past their pitch filter.  A pitch without data is just a bunch of unsupported claims.

But be cautious of the “Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics” rule, and be sure to check your data before publishing it.

News may be irrelevant.  We tend to counsel our clients that news is the route to coverage.  And often it is.  Network-focused trade outlets such as Network World, eWeek, and InformationWeek thrive on news, because many of their readers are product buyers or influencers.  But any respectable business publication thrives on trends.  My clients are in technology, but most business reporters are attuned to markets, not technologies per se.  They don’t have “technology” in their titles, but, to my benefit, they have it in their blood.  They see the trends, they see innovators emerging, and they’re often obsessed with Battle Royals — who’s getting ahead and will dominate, and who will be a relic lost to history in a few years.  The big question for PR pros is not how they can insert their clients into the story, but which clients they can insert.

Trendjacking rules.  Trendjacking is a technique honored by the legions of practitioners who want to associate their clients with a trend or practice that will drive a market ahead.  Will trendjacking drive major feature coverage for your client in the business media?  Not likely. But smart business reporters are hungry to find vendors who are driving trends, and not just riding those trends.  And what client does not want to be mentioned as a trend driver by Fortune, or Barron’s, or CNBC?  In an industry with a sizable TAM (Total Available Market (multiple millions or billions of dollars), even if your client is mentioned alongside five other companies in the segment, would  you turn down the opportunity?  I’d take that opportunity in a nanosecond!  Think of it this way:  Fortune just named my client as one of a half dozen companies that are leading the way in a multi-billion-dollar industry!

That’s a huge win in itself.  And could that single mention open opportunities for a feature on just your client in the months ahead?  Believe it, and make it happen.  Patience and timeliness are everything.

By Gary Good

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Reaching the High Bar: What Business Press Want From Their Sources

Placement in business press is the gold standard by which your PR efforts are measured. Publications like Forbes, Fortune, Wall Street Journal and others represent a high bar because of their prestige, influence and broad reach. When our clients get a feature in Bloomberg or New York times, it’s usually framed and hung in the office foyer or otherwise worthy of front and center placement on the home page of the company web site.

However, for most clients — especially smaller start-ups – it seems that business press is all but out of reach for anyone not included on the Fortune 500. And there’s a grain of truth to that. For one, unless your name is Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook or the like, there’s little chance that business press will cover any straight product announcements. Meanwhile, business publications – congruent with the media industry in general – are dealing with shrinking staffs that have little time to address the hundreds of pitches they see in their inboxes on a daily basis.

For many of the same reasons, funding coverage – once eagerly sought by business press reporters – is also diminishing. For the last several years, VCs have invested liberally in the start-up community, and as a result, many funding announcements are often deprioritized or ignored altogether by reporters. And while VCs have only recently started to pull back, reporters now seldom cover announcements less than $25M.

So what are business press reporters actually looking for?

They’re looking to tell a story.
A company and/or product by themselves are not interesting. But when placed in the context of a broader trend or story, stand-alone products have the potential garner attention from even the most scrutinizing tier one reporters. When crafting the announcement, ask yourself, what does this mean for the industry? Customers? Is this part an ongoing or more significant story that is unfolding? Could this be a catalyst for change? The release of a cloud storage platform, for example, might actually capture their attention when put in the context of a story on how niche life science firms are adjusting to both storing significantly more data and adhering to new compliance regulations aimed at protecting it. Viewing your story from the lens of a reporter will give you the ability to pre-emptively address their objections while also crafting a narrative that they’ll actually want to write.

They’re looking for simple explanations.
Business press are catering to a broad audience, with the majority of their readers in the business community. While readership may include some technology experts, most will only have a laymen’s understanding of technology industry concepts. Therefore, don’t assume the reporter knows as much as you do about your subject (chances are they don’t). Provide simple and clear narratives, with minimal use of industry jargon. Queue up an elevator pitch that can easily illustrate what your company does in one to two sentences. Break down explanations – even if the journalist has the press release or you think they’re familiar with the topic (simplified explanations will often make the best quotes.) And during the interview, do provide the reporter real-world examples or scenarios that allow them to “see” what you’re explaining. This could be a description of how a security threat halts operations of critical infrastructure that your solution can remediate, or depiction of video systems for sporting events that generate petabytes of data to be stored and secured by your platform. Bolstering your assertions with these kinds of descriptions will ultimately help reporters understand how your product or service will affect the lives of their readers.

They’re looking to build a relationship.
Business press reporters are bombarded with hundreds of pitches every day – the vast majority of which end up deleted because the PR professionals failed to do their due diligence ahead of time. Most pitches are untargeted and blasted out to hundreds of journalists all at once, with little knowledge about, or relevance to, the reporter’s audience. Instead, take the time to get to know a reporter by regularly reading and commenting on their stories, following them on Twitter and LinkedIn, and connecting at tradeshows and events (that’s where 10Fold shines). This up-front investment will soon pay off, even if a story isn’t generated from every interaction. By keeping up this steady cadence, reporters will eventually trust you enough to come to you for a comment or with a story idea. And those relationships are the ones that will last.

By Stefanie Hoffman 

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