Getting press attention can be one of the best ways to build your brand and get the word out about your company. But sparking media interest can be hard. Like everything else in business, it requires a well thought-out plan, a focus on building relationships and an articulate pitch.

Complete Guide to PR

PR has the ability to shape the story that you and others tell about your brand. It can change public perception and build momentum for your business.

Since launching eight months ago, we’ve been fortunate to get some good press here at Canva. However it takes a long time, and the onus is on you to convince reporters why your story is important. This post is a guide to PR based on our experience.

Before you start trying to get PR, give some thought to the following:

  • What’s your story?
  • Who will be interested?
  • When do you want to tell your story?
  • Why is it important now?
  • How is it unique?

1 Know what’s news

Know What's News

What have you done that’s newsworthy? One of the mistakes people make is pitching their company without thinking about what’s news. These are some of the main reasons you might pitch a journalist:

  • Company launch
  • Product launch
  • News or research
  • Response to a news event
  • Partnership
  • Funding or investment
  • An upcoming event

News needs to have something “new”. Make sure you’ve considered this before pitching. Journalists are always on the lookout for good stories, however won’t cover something that’s not newsworthy. You’ll often hear journalists ask about the “angle”, that is the hook that makes your story unique.

2 Be concise

Be Concise

Don’t waste a journalist’s time with pages of text about an announcement. Initially reach out with a short email introducing yourself and explaining the news you have to share. If they are interested, offer to send through a media release with more details.

According to research by Ragan, the most preferred methods for journalists to be pitched are Email, Phone, and LinkedIn. Find out how a journalist likes to be pitched by asking them the first time you make contact. You may even like to use a CRM like Highrise HQ to keep track of your previous conversations and information about what each journalist covers.

3 Pitch the right journalist

Pitch to the Right Journalist

Sending blanket emails or pitching a journalist who doesn’t cover your area (often called a ‘beat’ by journalists) is a big no-no. If you’re launching an app, don’t pitch a politics reporter. Okay, that’s an over-the-top example, but it’s an important point. If you’re launching a new app, find a journalist who tends to cover app launches.

Depending on your budget, you may like to try media database tools like Vocus, Meltwater or Cision. These services offer media databases which allow you to find contact details for relevant journalists.

4 Provide useful assets

Provide Useful Assets

Put together a press kit with all the relevant information. You can upload this to Dropbox or Google Drive. As a start, include the following elements:

  • Media release
  • High-quality press photos
  • Logos and screenshots (if applicable)
  • FAQ or fact sheets
  • Videos

The more you can provide, the easier it is for a journalist to write their story. Some publications will want to send their own photographer to get unique photos. Make yourself available for interviews and photographs. Think carefully about the image you want to convey. How does this impact what you wear, where you take photos and the information you provide?

5 Offer something unique

Offer Something Unique

What can you offer that is unique? A journalist doesn’t want to write the same story as another publication. You may want to think about offering an exclusive to one publication that you think would be the most interested or appropriate to cover your story. Are you pitching a longer form profile? Go to a magazine or outlet that writes features like Forbes or FastCompany. Is it funding news? Pitch a tech blog like TechCrunch.

6 Think long-term

Think Long-Term

We’ve had a number of big launches now at Canva. Some of the journalists who we started speaking to when we raised our seed round a year ago have only recently covered us. Other still haven’t, but have asked to be kept in the loop.

Treat PR like any other business relationship. You need to invest energy and time in getting to know different journalists. Do your best to respond quickly with relevant information, and don’t be pushy. We all hate being harassed by salespeople on the phone. Remember every time you speak to a journalist you are adding to their impression of you. Make sure you’re building a good relationship.

7 Conclusion

Conclusion

Public relations is the way that you present your business to the world. It is the brand you build. Start by thinking about the story you want to tell, then determine which channels you can use to share that story. Before you start pitching journalists, think about the story you want to tell and whether it is timely and relevant.

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Zach is Head of Communications for Canva, an online platform that makes graphic design simple for everyone. He writes regularly on social media, branding and public relations and has achieved coverage in publications including Mashable, TechCrunch, PandoDaily, NBC, Forbes and The Next Web.