T: 020 7834 1066
E: info@abucon.co.uk
 
International Management, Outsource Marketing and PR Consultants
Abucon Limited – 3-4 Bradfield Hall, Bradfield Combust, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP30 0LU
Specialising in Business to Business and Industrial Marketing
 
“This is one of the most sensible pages I’ve read in a long time.”
Alun Hill,
Chartered Institute of Journalists
   
Here is a selection of questions we are frequently asked.

How do I get ‘free’ editorial coverage without any advertising spend?

Editors and journalists want copy that is new, interesting and of relevance to their specific readership.  They like human interest angles, application stories and case histories.  How has your product or service solved a problem for your customer?

Much editorial falls into one of two categories - snippets or features.

Snippets are short pieces of copy, often up to 200 words, frequently supported by a photo or graphic.  They may come with a reader enquiry service through which those interested can seek more information.  Some trade press have ‘bingo cards’ on which readers can indicate the snippets they want to follow up.  The magazine will then collate these enquiries, feeding data through to the relevant original source of the copy.

Feature articles may be written by the publications’ journalists or can sometimes be by-lined by a specialist supplying the story - although in reality such articles will usually be written and placed by a PR agency.

But editors are not there to give you ‘free’ publicity.  And they do NOT want advertising puffs.

Editorial needs to be bespoke and written in the style of the target publication.  What is their usual sentence and paragraph length, their range of vocabulary, the use or otherwise of technical language?  Do they take photos (in which case anything you supply must be of ‘publishable quality’)? And what about graphics?

And it should be timely.

Many publications produce an editorial features list of special supplements and articles they plan to publish in forthcoming issues.  Can you dovetail your editorial copy with the subject of one of these?

And don’t forget the deadline.  Usually deadlines are not moveable, so if it says ‘by the 5th of the month’ sending something in on the 7th is no good.  Indeed, it is worse than no good because you will get a reputation for being an unreliable source of text.

 

Am I best to write my own news releases or is it essential to use a company with good contacts with journalists?

These are two very different topics and should be viewed separately.

There are special techniques for writing news releases and if you know these and have the necessary skills then fine, write your own releases, but if you are not fully au fait, then call in an expert. After all, would you diagnose your own illness or use a doctor? Depends on how seriously ill you are.

Having “good contacts” with journalists is one of the most misunderstood and most hyped areas in press relations. Good contacts can be helpful, but they can also be a liability. Far better to have a good story that is newsworthy, clearly presented and relevant to the particular medium you are targeting. Then the ‘good contacts’ become virtually irrelevant.

Should I follow up my press release with a telephone call to the editor?

No. Editors receive literally hundreds, sometimes thousands of releases each week, most of which they don’t read beyond the headline, (which should be attention grabbing and succinct) and possibly the first paragraph. If the journalists want to take things further, they will be in touch with you. But if you never get a positive response, check (a) are you preparing your releases correctly? And (b) are you targeting the right people?

How can I research what publications want or need before writing my releases?

This process takes several stages. First step, get a copy of the publications you are targeting, look through and see what types of articles they publish. Then find out the profile of their readership (consumer, trade, technical, ages, interests, geographical location, etc).

Many publications have an editorial schedule on their web site. This will give an indication of the type of topics that they are interested in and special features they plan to run.

Your local library will usually have published media directories such as Willing’s Press Guide and British Rate and Data. These give more information on publications.

There are also several media databases and journalist enquiry services available on line via subscriptions, but these can be very expensive for an individual company. Here you will benefit by using the services of a specialist PR and marketing firm who will be able to spread the cost of such subscriptions across their client base.

What issues should I consider when developing a pricing strategy?

Where do you want to position your product or service in the marketplace? Think of a couple of examples – cars and cosmetics. The desired positioning for both these determines the pricing strategy. The correct price is what a customer will pay.

When selecting a product, people don’t only buy benefits or even features. They buy so much more. Do they want to be seen using a particular product? Do they want the product to make them feel good about themselves? Or do they want a basic, utilitarian product that cuts out all the frills and hype?

Look at the recent successes of cheap moisturisers sold by Superdrug and Aldi. Do the customers you are targeting like the flattery that often goes with many forms of product presentation? (the elaborate packaging with some expensive cosmetics, the promises offered [implied or real], the status of driving a top of the range car, the latest, newest model, the test drive of a vehicle).

What are the price ranges of your competition? Are their products/services better or not as good as yours? Do you have something extra that you offer?

When determining a pricing strategy, it has relatively little to do with the production costs and far more to do with product positioning and what customers expect to pay.

 

What are the best ways to find publications that deal with my industry?

Start with publications you know or those produced by your trade association or professional body. Then ‘Google’ your subject. For example ‘construction magazine’ will throw up a selection of publications.

However, this is only the start. A more comprehensive list will be found from the various media databases. Some of these are available in your local library, while others will only be accessible on subscription. Good reference libraries will usually have Willing’s Press guide and British Rate and Data.

But in order to draw up a conclusive list, you will need quite a lot of research. It could just be simpler (and cheaper in the long run) to go to a media relations specialist and let them do the leg work for you.

And do you want only the publications that deal with your industry? For example, if you make and install safety and access equipment, do you want only publications in the safety and access industry, or do you want to reach publications in the sectors that use your equipment, such as the facilities and premises managers in education, healthcare and commercial premises?

Rather than merely looking at your own industry publications, developing a bespoke media list should be part of your comprehensive media strategy.

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