The Sky’s the Limit: Running Successful Media Relations Campaigns (as told through skydiving coverage, how apropos)

Here at JWC, we know PR. It’s what we do. It’s where our expertise lies and what our clients count on us for. And while PR has many facets, one we particularly enjoy is media relations.

As defined by Wikipedia (and found to be credible by JWC), Media relations involves working with media (e.g. local and national print/broadcast/online and trade publications) for the purpose of informing the public of an organization’s mission, policies and practices in a positive, consistent and credible manner.

While it might seem straightforward, there’s a lot to know about conducting a successful media relations campaign, and since we just wrapped multiple for clients the United States Parachute Association (USPA) and Skydive Perris, we thought we’d share some insights and tips to getting quality placements:

Newsworthiness/Media Targeting
Sure, you might want to be in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal or on Good Morning America, but is the story you’re promoting 1) newsworthy and 2) relevant to that audience?

As PR professionals, we’re entrenched in the news. We read/watch/listen to it daily, so we’re able to provide effective consultation to our clients on what constitutes newsworthiness, and craft/pitch relevant story ideas for media coverage. As such, we know a few key qualities journalists look for in stories include:

1) Timeliness
2) Proximity (Does it affect people living nearby?)
3) Impact (Will this information change lives, does it matter?)
4) Novelty (Is it unique/innovative?)
5) Trends (Does it correspond with current trends/add something to the conversation?)
6) Human Interest (Readers are interested in other people. Will they learn something/identify
with this story? )

If after these questions the idea still has legs, it’s time to choose the right outlets to pitch, keeping in mind the audience each caters to. For example, a story about a new trend in the sport of skydiving might be appropriate for national (e.g. Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, etc. – all recent placements we secured), but an announcement of a new board member might be better suited for local print, and so on.

The Ripple Effect
Not surprisingly, journalists are constantly reading the news to keep informed, but perhaps surprisingly, they’re also looking for story ideas.

When WIRED picked up a story we pitched on the Unites States Parachute Association, for example, a NBC Nightly News producer saw it and wanted to feature it, as well. Likewise, a story we placed on the Discovery Channel’s website resulted in coverage on its show “Daily Planet.” WIRED Final

While it’s important to individually pitch key media targets – which we also did in the above cases – know that securing a well-done placement in other outlets can help support your story idea, and add credibility to its newsworthiness with those additional key targets.

Associated Press = National/International Coverage
So you’ve vetted your story for newsworthiness and decided it’s worthy of large-scale, national/international coverage. This is where newswire organizations like the Associated Press come into play. Media outlets around the world count on the AP to share important stories that they might not know about otherwise. Therefore, if the AP picks up an article, national and international outlets are also likely to run it.

For example, the AP ran two stories we pitched on respective record breaking skydiving jumps at Skydive Perris, which were picked up by print/online/broadcast outlets around the globe, and resulted in an estimated publicity value of more than $400,000.00 for broadcast alone. Key hits included PBS NewsHour, Lou Dobbs Tonight, BuzzFeed News and Good Morning America Yahoo News.
AP Final
In conclusion, a caveat: While these insights are helpful to keep in mind, there are numerous other factors that go into running a successful media relations campaign, which come with experience, talent and relationships built over time. If you’ve decided a media relations campaign is the right strategy for you, contact us. We know a thing or two.