Bernard O'Riordan, Clarity Media Trainer
There’s a well-worn saying heard regularly in newsrooms the world over: “If all they want to do is plug their product, then tell them to take out an ad.”
In other words, reporters and their editors do not really care about your new product or study, or even your brand for that matter. They might be part of the story, but they are not 'the' story.
What reporters care about is how the product or service you are pitching, or the issue you are promoting, matters to their readers – your audience.
So before trying to get press coverage for your new app or that expensive piece of software, ask yourself how you are actually making life easier for customers. Or to take a leaf out of Apple’s book, how will you enrich people’s lives with this new product or service?
Apple rarely lists its product specifications or the technical aspects of its devices when it has a product launch. That’s because it knows people just don’t care.
Instead, Apple describes the benefits of its products using language that its customers will understand and be influenced by. For instance, how often do we hear superlatives like “thinnest”, “fastest”, “smallest” and “lightest” at an Apple launch?
When the late Steve Jobs launched the iPod in 2001, he said: “In our own small way we’re going to make the world a better place.”
Like all great salespeople, he knew he had to appeal to emotions first and foremost. And benefits are the language of emotion.
And it’s really no different in a media interview.
If you don’t appeal to a reporter’s emotions, and show them the benefits, then you are unlikely to persuade them.
To be truly newsworthy, you need to sell the dream rather than the product.
The aim of a media interview is not a marketing sell. An experienced journalist will lose patience fast if all you do is talk about your product or some new study without linking it to something more newsworthy.
That's why you need to paint a picture of how this might change things or why clients should sit up and take notice.
It might be as simple as highlighting the risks of not taking action, or focusing on the “bottom line” benefits to customers. If your software can save clients $200,000 a year by eliminating cumbersome manual processes, then you are already on the way to being more newsworthy.
With that in mind, here are five things to nail before talking to the media about a new product or service:
Why should we care? Define your story in just one sentence, so you can easily explain it to a reporter in less than 10 seconds;
Use one or two superlatives (words that end in 'st' like best, fastest, hottest) to capture the benefits. Is it a first perhaps?;
Explain why it is different to what’s already in the market, and even have a case study to prove your point;
Know who your audience is: who is this product or service aimed at?;
Put yourself in your client’s shoes. What are the four toughest questions a client or customer might ask about this product or service?
Once you stop looking at your business from the inside out, you will be better equipped to explain the benefits that customers want to hear about. And if you do it well, they just might buy.