Tips for Sharing News
A good goal to keep in mind for your communications and media strategy is define your image and brand by proactively telling stories about how your company is working to improve the community. Here are some basic elements that can help you successfully promote your efforts:
- Determine Your Spokesperson
Appoint someone who will perform the basic public relations duties (maintaining press contacts, producing press releases, handling media calls, etc.) as well as serve as company spokesperson when the media calls for comments and interviews. This person should know the operations of the company, be comfortable speaking in public and be accessible to the media. Most of all, the spokesperson needs to be able to quickly think on his/her feet and be unflappable.
- Develop Fact Sheets
Fact sheets about your business can be used to develop your overall messaging strategy and are easily shared with reporters. Facts sheets should not be overly cluttered, containing two or three messages per topic. When possible, support each message with facts, using overall trends and/or specific data.
- Maintain a Media List
If you work with a PR firm, lean on the firm’s expertise to establish your media outreach contacts for local and or/national news media (and their specific “beat”), as well as social media influencers (see below).
For social media sites like Twitter, it’s a good idea to keep a list of journalists and media outlets that covers the topics you often share, such as charitable giving or new store grand openings. Also, consider creating a list of influencers on social media to help amplify your messages, such as people with established credibility in the industry who can share your news to their audience and increase engagement with your brand.
- Keep Records
Save the media outreach materials you develop, including social posts by scheduling exports of your social data on all respective platforms. This will help your communications team measure success by tracking metrics like click-thru rate, shares and engagement rate. Additionally, keeping records can help you tailor messages going forward for maximum effect.
The short answer to how often you should communicate your news, such as a press release, is to do so only when you want to communicate news—this is a different strategy than a social media strategy, where you are engaging a much broader audience that includes current and new customers. Try not to focus on sending out a certain number of releases, such as six per year or once a month, etc. If you send out releases that aren’t really news, journalists may eventually tune out your releases, so make sure that you are only communicating to the media when it’s worthwhile.
Here are some sources with receptive audiences to your stories:
- Industry trade media: For sharing your company’s success stories and community outreach efforts, the trade press is a great resource to lean on. Trade reporters (like those at NACS Magazine) understand your business, and they are always looking for announcements about new personnel, new stores, new designs and concepts, etc. They also are vested in our industry and generally want to share positive stories, and some may even allow you to see your quotes or other details before publishing. When your business is frequently noticed in the trade press, these efforts could help you create new connections with other retailers and vendors for networking and business resources.
- Affiliated retail industry groups: Include state and regional associations as possible receptive audiences for news stories (e.g., posting on the web, social, e-newsletters, etc.).
- Local media: The local newspaper, radio station and other appropriate outlets are more likely to pick up your community-focused news, store grand openings and new store features such as the addition of electric vehicle charging, a new foodservice program and store upgrades.
- National media: For broader, national stories consider posting your press release on one of the newswire services (PRNewswire, BusinessWire, etc.), which can reach hundreds or thousands of media contacts (for a fee, of course).
And finally, here are some suggestions for building relationships with your media contacts:
- Consider tailoring your pitch with a short reference to what they do, such as noting that you enjoyed their last story about “xyz”—let them know that you follow their work.
- Instead of asking editors when they will run a story, let them know you’re available if they need more information.
- If you send a release to multiple reporters via email, respect their privacy and send as a BCC.
- If you use a newswire service, set the release to publish just before the hour or half hour. This will help ensure that your release isn’t caught up in a flurry of releases that post exactly on the hour.