How to Get Great Press – Ask the Experts
Cockpit Arts hosted Q&A session with leading lights of the media world Grant Gibson, Editor of internationally renowned Crafts Magazine and Julia Hilson of cutting edge PR agency Kaper. They shared a wealth of knowledge on maximising the chances of securing great press coverage.
Below is a summarised account of the session which was chaired by Business Development Manager at Cockpit, Abigail Branagan who posed the initial questions and then opened it to the audience of designer-makers.
What makes a Press Release stand out?
Grant: It’s the work itself that stands out, it has to be of a quality that is suitable but you still have to work hard to get noticed. One way may be sending your Press Release in the post as most people send theirs electronically, so is a way to make it stand out.
It’s also important to research who to address it to; its tempting to send to the Editor but their Assistant may do more of the filtering and be more appropriate. Target magazines, look at them thoroughly. You can work out who does what from back issues and then target specific journalists according to what section they are responsible for and interested in.
Julia: Have a great image and lead with it; in the copy highlight what’s new and interesting about the work. You can also tie into big events, the bigger picture that journalists are writing about and fits in with themes they may be working along. Make it really succinct, get to the point. Talk about it with your friends and pull out the interesting points. Put the news in the title – ‘being sold for the first time; exclusive’ etc.
Is there a good time of year to contact journalists?
They can be inundated at certain times of the year such as Christmas but a lot of the long-leads will be working on Christmas issues in summer. Build relationships with journalists throughout the year.
Grant: A journalist is looking for a reason to feature you. Do you have a new exhibition for example? Journalists are looking for an angle and are often keen to be the first person to cover something.
What about the format of images?
Julia: No one likes images that are too big and get stuck in their email system
Grant: however, sometimes it’s good to have high res images so journalists don’t have to call you for them, should they need them to hand at short notice. They should be around 300dpi; 20cm so one way may be to attach low res images in an email and then include a link to a file-sharing site for these.
Julia: Research the magazine and the section you’re aiming at but often journalists favour ‘cut outs’ of products so take some of your shots on a white background so they can be dropped on to the page. If you loan anything for the magazine to shoot themselves accompany it with a loan form that states when it will be expected back and that the magazine will pay for any damage.
How do you build and nurture relationships with journalists?
Julia: Be reliable and efficient when you deal with them. And it’s not all about press releases, we’re all human so go out and meet people over a coffee; network., invite them to private views etc. And ask journalists what they like and think and build a relationship where you understand what each other do.
Grant: don’t be afraid to approach people, people like to be invited to events
What about pitching a feature idea, is there a different way to pitch that?
Grant: rather than tell them you should be profiled; generally be more subtle. You could ask them instead what they think of your portfolio; ask them questions. If perhaps you’re pitching an opinion piece, pitch it succinctly in a paragraph via email with evidence to back the idea up.
You might not hear anything back; what do you say to follow up?
Julia: Don’t call again and again but follow up after sending the press release perhaps after a week but don’t ask ‘did you receive it’ perhaps summarise your pitch again in one sentence. If they do not respond after this call or email but don’t hound them. Find out when journalists are on a deadline and time your press release to arrive accordingly.
How important is Social Media in terms of generating PR?
Julia: Blogging is becoming increasingly important. Some journalists have blogs, look them up. And identify key bloggers if you don’t know about the blog use ‘Teqpad’ teqpad.com- type in the name of a blog and see how many followers it has and how long it’s been going. You can also invite bloggers to your private views.
Question from audience: Where do you go to find new designer-makers to feature?
Grant: Contacts’ recommendations, colleagues’ suggestions, design fairs, exhibitions, graduate shows, it can vary from issue to issue of the publication.
Julia: Use the tools around you for example being part of an organisation such as Cockpit Arts is very beneficial as organisationally they are doing PR which you can be part of. Being a part of larger events and the bigger picture and taking part in exhibitions projects such as Created at Cockpit at the Southbank centre – as you get the PR department’s help – which can help promote you and your work.
Also remember in a press release to include information of where people can buy your products and how much they are, including a link to drive sales. Tweet about it to drive traffic there, it’s all about the awareness of your product.
Grant: yes don’t just get into magazine for the sake of getting into magazine you have to get into publications which are going to drive your business forward.
Question from audience: What about the low-key approach of a maker contacting the journalist directly? Is it a hindrance as oppose to the smooth approach of a PR company?
Julia: hearing a story that is from the horse’s mouth as it were and hearing about a brand that is very unique is really interesting. Putting a face/voice to the product is good for a journalist. Also use what you have – you might want to pitch a ‘behind the scenes in your studio’ piece for example. Look at your media and see what they might be interested in.
What are you top three tips to getting good press?
Grant: Have a good product. Keep information you’re sending through succinct; and perhaps include a direct quote from yourself as a maker e.g. ‘the reason I made this was…’ Make your work sing out.
Julia: Know your target audience; know what they’re reading; and know your publications too; know who writes which features and understand what they are likely to cover.
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Tags: press, profile, Seminars