How not to annoy B2B journalists and get more press coverage

Back in my days as B2B journalist, I was once told by someone I was interviewing for a feature that I should be doing my bit to boost the market.

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They wanted me to write a positive piece about their area of the market. It’s the sort of comment that would have me rolling my eyes.

Why? Because putting a positive spin on the market wasn’t my job as a B2B journalist. I’d be doing a disservice to the readers of the magazine if I didn’t set out what was happening in the market – good, bad or otherwise.

Misconceptions about a journalists roles are common and those sort of requests not unusual.

My response was always the same, I would politely talk about maintaining the integrity of the publication by presenting an accurate view of the market. And they would always agree that that was an important thing to do.

It didn’t always stop them trying the same tactic to steer the editorial in a direction favourable to them another time. Sadly.

Tiresome tactic

But this tactic never worked, it was tiresome and didn’t serve longer-term relationship building.

A B2B journalists job isn’t to do your marketing for you. A feature or news story isn’t an advertorial, it’s not a brochure.

What a journalist is trying to do is find out useful and interesting information for their readers.

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The reason some people get quoted more by journalists

Even before Boris Johnson became Prime Minister he was a journalists’ dream. Why? Because as soon as he opened his mouth a colourful quote would come out.

Close up image of a desk with a smart phone and a hand holding a pen writing in a notebook
Photo by Chivalry Creative on Unsplash

Regardless of what you think of his performance as Prime Minister or London Mayor he has a way with words. And OK so it can backfire on him – often spectacularly – but there is a lesson here.

It isn’t always about what you say, it’s how you say it.

Back when I was B2B property journalist, there were popular market features for which it wasn’t difficult to find industry experts to comment.

In fact, you’d find that a lot of people wanted to give their view on what was going on.

Deciding who to quote

The challenge, for me, was deciding who best to speak to or quote – there was always a limit.

For example, I might have two people who said something like: “Deals are taking longer to conclude at the moment”.

And then another who says: “Getting deals over the line is like kicking a mattress up a hill.”

Who do you think I would quote?

The point is, you can stand out from the crowd by not just saying something interesting but saying it in an interesting or colourful way.

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Before you write your press release ask these questions

There is a lot of ego in press releases. Businesses who insist their PR issue a press release despite being advised to the contrary.

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Here’s the thing, just because you did something doesn’t mean anyone else actually cares.

Just because it’s interesting to you, doesn’t mean anyone else will find it interesting – or useful information.

It might make a nice bit of content for your blog or social media but that doesn’t mean it’s going to set a journalists world on fire and have them holding the front page.

Have realistic expectations

When it comes to press releases, you need to be realistic in your expectations.

A journalist’s job isn’t to do your marketing for you, your press release needs to be helpful to them for the job that they are doing.

Which is giving their readers useful and interesting information.

So how do you decide whether a story is worth the time spent drafting and approving a press release?

Here are some questions to ask:

• Is your story genuinely interesting to the journalist’s audience?

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PR tips: How to respond to big public sector announcements

Twice a year, the UK Government announces its tax and spending plans in a budget and subsequently, there is a race among those in the property sector to get their response comments in the news.

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It’s understandable. A pithy analysis or reaction to the business news topic of the moment can be great PR.

And there will be a few notable announcements that will be dates in the diary.

The effort to get coveted space on news websites and publications starts before the budget has even been announced.

Emails offering people up for interviews will begin pinging into journalists’ inboxes in the days leading up to the actual event.

Then in the hours and days afterwards emails with statements and opinions will flood in.

With so much choice of comment there are three key things a journalist is going to look for.

1. A high profile name

CEOs and managing directors of big well-known property companies are a draw.

It’s like having a celebrity name to open a school fete, a Hollywood A-lister is always going to get a bigger crowd than someone who came sixth on a reality TV show. Harsh but true.

2. Speed of delivery

If you aren’t out of the traps the moment they open the gates then there is a strong chance you’ll miss your chance.

Websites can be updated within minutes so speed is the name of the game.

A long and complex approval process isn’t going to do you any favours in this instance.

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