Media relations is often the core of any public relations strategy, but it is a tough nut to crack. It’s difficult to find a way to stand out from the thousands of other marketers looking to secure media coverage for their pest control company. It’s even more challenging during the winter months when business tends to slow down and pests may be less top of mind.
However, one mention in a community newspaper or on a local morning show can increase visibility of your pest control business and ultimately lead to new customers. With only a few months remaining in 2013, it’s important to close out the year with strong media relations results. Here are a few simple ways to keep the media relations momentum going during the slower pest season.
Be Creative. While it’s easy to generate press releases based on company news such as personnel announcements, charitable work and anniversaries, getting bugs front and center in the media can be a bit of a challenge. Channeling your inner creativity will likely produce more effective media results. Consider pitching topics to the local media based on the seasonality of pest-related issues and provide useful news that is less promotional and more advice-driven. For example, the winter weather often forces rodents indoors, so you could pitch the importance of winter pest-proofing for homeowners. Here are some additional angles to consider throughout the remainder of the year:
- Planning to spend more time baking in the kitchen when the weather cools? Don’t let pantry pests and rodents ruin your recipes.
- During the holiday decorating season, keep some simple pest-proofing tips in mind, such as checking the fresh-cut tree for pests before bringing it indoors and storing décor in plastic boxes with sealed lids to prevent pests from nesting in them in the off-season.
- A year in review—what pest trends did you notice in your area this past year? This could be used as a business angle or a home features angle in your daily paper.
- When pitching, it’s also effective to offer up unique data to support your ideas. Have you received more service calls than normal this year? Did you treat an unusual number of homes for bed bugs over the past few months? These statistics help tell a compelling story and make your angle appear even more newsworthy to a reporter.
Newsjack. The term “newsjacking” refers to the practice of capitalizing on a news story to amplify your marketing success, according to HubSpot.com. In short, newsjacking provides companies with the opportunity to ride the wave of a popular story and get their name included in additional coverage.
To find stories to newsjack, you should monitor the news on a daily basis. If you come across a current story that is relevant to your business, quickly draft a short pitch to the reporter that acknowledges their initial story, suggests a follow up angle or offers you as an expert for any additional coverage they may be working on.
Reverse Pitch. It’s easier to pitch a reporter when you already know what the story is going to be about. There are free tools available that directly connect journalists to sources and these tools should definitely be part of your media strategy.
One such service is Help A Reporter Out (HARO), which provides real-time media opportunities from local and national journalists on deadline who are in need of an interview source for their story. Once you sign up, you will begin receiving two emails each day with a list of journalist requests for sources or information. If you find a match for your business, you can respond directly to the query by explaining how you could add value to the potential article. This tool can result in free publicity and can further position your company as an authority in your industry.
Strengthen Relationships. Developing and maintaining relationships with journalists is crucial for media relations success long-term. Setting up face-to-face meetings with reporters is a traditional practice that helps your name stand out from the hundreds of emails they receive each day. Unfortunately, the sit-down meeting is also becoming a lost art in today’s fast-paced world. Consider inviting a reporter that has been receptive to your pitches to talk over a cup of coffee or short lunch. This is a great way to get to know the reporter and what they look for in a story, discuss some potential ideas and position yourself as an expert source. Plus, it’s harder for a reporter to ignore future pitches once they’ve opened the door to meeting you.
Utilize Social Media.Twitter and Facebook are useful platforms to help keep pests top of mind among consumer audiences year-round. You can utilize both social media tools to engage in conversation with your followers by posting about a range of relevant topics from important business-related news to general pest prevention tips. Try focusing your content on timely subjects that will resonate among consumers and the media during the colder months, such as rodents and winter pest-proofing.
Key Takeaways. Not only does media relations help build awareness of a brand or service, it’s a free form of advertising that often results in direct leads and sales. By getting creative and taking advantage of all possible resources including social media and pitching tools, you are more likely to secure positive results from your media relations outreach throughout the year.
The author is executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.