Every day, public relations professionals bombard insurance and reinsurance journalists with hundreds of press releases – many of which are ignored or deleted because they are boring, irrelevant or not newsworthy. In the first of a series of Rein4ce blogs about helping clients cut through the noise and get into the media, Managing Director Stephen Breen shares his top PR tip.
In a previous life when I worked as a journalist, my inbox was inundated with press releases. The reality was that I didn’t have time to read them properly, so unless they came straight to the point in the first couple of sentences, chances were they would get deleted.
One of the key roles of a public relations professional is to help build the credibility and reputation of their clients by getting them featured regularly in the media. Often, though, they fail to achieve this because they don’t take the time to try to understand the needs of journalists. Before sending any press release, it is imperative to ask these basic questions: why would a journalist bother to publish this? Is this information relevant to their readers?
If it’s an announcement about a new insurance or reinsurance business being launched or expanded, the chances are high that it will get covered. Similarly, if it is about a key business hire or the roll out of a new product that meets a real need in the market. If it’s a piece of commentary about a developing story that will add to the knowledge of readers, there is a possibility that some publications will run it.
If, however, it is little more than a blatant piece of self-promotion – boasting, perhaps, about how wonderful some business’s customer service is or a new add-on to an obscure piece of software – the likelihood of anyone running it is close to zero.
One difficult part of a PR professional’s job is to tell clients a hard truth they may not want to hear. An HR initiative may be getting them and their teams excited, but, unfortunately, it’s not of any interest to the media, and would probably sit better in an advert.
PR professionals sometimes have to play a bit of an educational role when clients are offered the chance to write an opinion piece. Trade publications will only run op-eds if they offer genuine market insight that informs their readers – not marketing puff pieces.
Journalists are extremely busy people, and they are the gatekeepers to the media, so if PR people are serious about trying to get their clients in the news, a good place to start is to think like a journalist.
In the next of our series, Rein4ce CEO Mairi Mallon, will share her top PR tip.