6 tips for marketers to understand the best PR tactic to use for your story idea

Kathryn Van Kuyk shares an easy guide to commonly used PR tactics so that brands and marketers can distinguish which approach to take to get coverage, build engagement or boost awareness.

Marketers are often the crucial point of contact for managing and appointing PR agencies to boost brand awareness. When buying PR services, it’s important to keep up-to-date with the common tactics that will be used so that you can help your PR team get the best results.

Understanding which approaches to use and knowing what your PR team will need from you to make it work is crucial for securing strong results and ROI and providing advice to senior leaders and spokespeople in your organisation.

The following is an easy reference guide of the commonly used tactics and components that each approach requires. Keeping this in mind will help you understand which tactic is best to suit your story idea and objectives.

  1. Media release

A media release should only be used for significant news announcements such as an acquisition, entry to new regions, new offices, new senior hires or listing on the ASX, etc. A media release should be targeted to relevant media organisations who will be interested. The days of ‘spray and pray’ are behind us. You’ll need a spokesperson to be available and on standby for an interview and possibly a customer if you have one willing to talk. It requires a strong hook and significant news value. Photography assets are also important.

  1. Media pitch

A media pitch is a great option to use if your story isn’t time sensitive. It can be used to attract a journalist’s attention and offer a spokesperson for an interview on a topical relevant angle. Your spokesperson will need to be prepared and available to do any interviews promptly. You can’t ask a journalist to wait a week until you’re prepared – be ready when you send it.

  1. Opinion piece 

An opinion piece, sometimes called thought leadership, is agnostic advice under the spokesperson’s byline. It must argue a strong point of view or provide ‘how-to’ or ‘top tips’ style advice. The emphasis is on having an opinion or sharing advice from an industry expert. You can’t plug your company, products or services in an opinion piece. The value is in having the byline and positioning your senior leaders as credible and authoritative commentators. If you’re working with a PR team, they will help write this for you in a style that a target publication will accept.

  1. Issues jacking

Issues jacking means being ready with advice and commentary when something topical is breaking in the news and offering an expert for comment. But don’t ambulance chase or criticise competitors as this can backfire and lead to unwanted criticism of your organisation. It should offer a unique point of view or advice on how to do things better or issues to consider in the wider industry debate.

  1. Customer story

This is when a happy customer is willing to engage in joint PR with you. This can involve media interviews, content on how working with your organisation has added value to their business and providing a customer use case testimonial. If a journalist is interested in the story, the customer will need to be prepared to do an interview and have both corporate comms and senior leadership approval from within their organisation to speak to a journalist. It is extremely powerful to have a customer tell a story about how working with you has helped them to do things better, easier, faster or smarter than it is for a journalist to hear you try to tell them how wonderful your organisation, products or services are. If you have happy passionate customers, you should leverage them in the PR.

  1. Trend / prediction commentary

This can be a pitch or opinion piece when you notice an emerging trend or have predictions, for instance what to expect in 2021 or what the top-selling items will be this Christmas.

Kathryn Van Kuyk is the co-founder and PR Director of Media-Wize.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash.