Know your slots – why a targeted approach to product PR always works best

Know your slots – why a targeted approach to product PR always works best

I won’t mention any names but there are people out there who tackle PR with a carpet-bombing approach and by that I mean, they’ll create a media list using keywords on a database and send an e-mail to the hundreds of contacts on said list. Because there are so many journalists to contact, personalising the pitches is time-consuming, so it’s left to whatever system they are using to fill in the first names (and when there’s a glitch in the system, all hell breaks loose!). Of course, this can work. PR is in many ways a numbers game and the more you chuck out there, the more likely it is that something will come back.

However, you’re far more likely to get results with a targeted approach. The scattergun/carpet bombing technique can be a bit like fishing in waters where all you’re going to catch is a bit of weed and possibly an old shoe. It’s far better to know where the fish are hanging out before you cast off and the same goes for PR, especially where products are concerned.

I’ve just started a new project with a confectionary brand. I’ve worked with them before, but it was a while ago now, so I began by making sure I was up to date on all the regular slots and columns across mainstream media that write about sweets. I found 40. Once I had my list in place, I was able to pitch to named journalists, knowing that my client’s product would be ideal for their weekly or monthly column. ‘Dear X,’ I wrote. I told them a bit about the product and then said: ‘I thought it would work well for your Yummy Things column’ (there is no such thing as a Yummy Things column, but I for one would read it if there was). Within 10 minutes of sending off the e-mail, I got a reply from a journalist, saying ‘You’re right, it would be. Can you send samples?’

Boom! That’s exactly the result I was hoping for. Had I sent the press release to any other journalist on said magazine, I might not have got a result. Sometimes they pass things on to colleagues, but more often than not, their e-mail inboxes are overflowing, and anything that doesn’t fit what they are working on gets trashed and look, when you’ve worked hard on getting your imagery and your pitch right, you do not went to end up in the bin.

Before I started creating my list, I looked high and low for something I could buy, because it took a lot of woman hours to compile it. There was nothing out there. PR Dispatch provides a Christmas Gift Guide list that is excellent for around £700, but well, it was February so I just had to get on and do it myself. Realising the value of such a list, I’ve incorporated other sections such as personal finances, books, people, travel, and fashion/beauty because I feel certain that it is something every busy PR wants, but doesn’t have the time to compile.

It doesn’t matter if you’re some big swish agency in town or a small business owner trying to get your products in the media, the rules are the same. Namely:

  • Make sure you have good hi-res images, lifestyle, and pack shots (cut-outs of the product)
  • Send a link to those images with your press release
  • Make sure the press release is easy to read, to the point, and contains all the relevant information. Where can you buy it? How much does it cost? What’s the website address? What’s it made of? etc.
  • Familiarise yourself with the publications you want to be seen in – do they write about products like yours? And if so, where?
  • Find out contact details for the journalist who writes the column/slot or page you’re aiming for.

If you get a tumbleweed response, follow up in 5 days. Offer to send samples. Sometimes e-mails do get lost. If the journalist isn’t interested, they won’t get back to you. Not every shot is going to result in a hit, but targeted ones are far more likely to succeed.

If you are interested in my regular slots list, drop me an e-mail at sally@wowpr.co.uk and I’ll notify you when it’s ready.  In the meantime, I wish you many PR wins this season!

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