How to get national consumer press coverage

Senior account executive Rosie Needham-Smith discusses how to secure press coverage in national consumer publications by planning, persistence and getting personal.

When it comes to consumer campaigns, good media relations are key.

After all, it will be the journalist who will pitch your story to their editor and the journalist who will tell their readers about your brand.

But you have to be in it for the long game – it takes time.

The art of consumer PR is a skilled one – expect long lead times and forward planning many, many months in advance.

If you’re pitching for Christmas press, we all know that the festive season really starts in July.

But the results can be fantastic as circulation figures for consumer publications are huge and their influence can be a game-changer for your product or brand.

So, how do you get national consumer coverage?

Get Planning

Create a customer profile

• Deciding on your target audience is essential for any business, but particularly when it comes to consumer PR.
• It’s important to have an idea of who is actually going to be interested in your product or service.
• If you haven’t already done so, outline exactly who this is, what they do, what they like, what problems they have, and, most importantly, how your product, brand or service is going to help solve these issues.
• You can then determine where they will go to find these solutions. Whether it’s a women’s weekly, a recipe blog or a YouTube channel, identify who your customer is and what platforms they’ll be reading.

Forward planning

• Any PR will tell you that forward features are a god send.
• Before you start your research, look through media kits and feature lists to see if there’s a relevant topic or supplement planned for a certain issue later on in the year.

Keep up to date with industry news

• Set up Google alerts for key search terms and competitor brands within the sector.
• If you’re paving the way for sustainability within your industry, you need to know who else is doing so.
• Keep up to date with relevant news which you could piggyback on to and discover the journalists who are writing about your subject.

Do your research

• If it’s magazines you’re targeting, buy the hard copies and sit down and read them. Not only will this bring you up to speed with the industry, it will allow you to understand the writing style and the way in which they communicate with their readers.
• The key to an excellent media relations campaign is a bloody good spreadsheet – so record all of the feature opportunities in which your brand could fit, the title of the feature and who writes it.
• And think outside the box – there will be many different contexts in which you can be mentioned.

Think digitally

• Nowadays, most magazines have a website that reproduces printed content, as well as having specific online-only columns and features.
• Often the bigger, more digitally-minded publications will have dedicated online editors, so be sure to add these to your list.
• Stylist magazine’s website has more than one million monthly unique browsers, considerably more than its print circulation of 400,000. Not to mention its daily e-newsletter, Emerald Street, which has over 110,000 subscribers.
• Sometimes a magazine group will have one site for a few of its brands like IPC Media’s GoodToKnow, which produces recipes from a variety of its magazines.
• Find them and follow them on social media to see if there are any other opportunities out there in the digital world.
• An Instagram post tagging your brand could be more valuable and provide a larger reach than a traditional piece of press coverage. Remember to include these in your all-important spreadsheet.

Get Personal

Know the journalist inside out

• There’s nothing more off-putting than someone who clearly hasn’t done their research. Get to know the relevant journalists – follow them on social media, read their articles, tune into their interests.
• You can then engage with them digitally (particularly on Twitter and LinkedIn), commenting on or at least liking their posts. They’ll associate your name with the relevant industry topics, even if they don’t directly pick up the phone to call you.
• With this in mind, you can tailor your feature synopses to suit their interests or a recent like-minded article.

Get personal

• Where possible, individually pitch directly to the journalist you want to write your story.
• There’s no use doing all the research if you’re just going to blanket issue your press release or synopsis.
• Remember to say exactly why you think your client is of interest to the journalist and the publications they write for.

Top tip: some magazines which are owned by a large media group will often have a group of editors for all of its magazines, so your journalist might have a variety of different options.

Phone-first approach

• Always pick up the phone when pitching to journalists. They might not answer and you can expect some short, sharp responses, but it’s always best to get a dialogue going if you can.
• They might have something else appropriate which you wouldn’t know about without speaking to them first.
• Make note of deadline days and when the publication goes to press, as you’ll want to avoid these like the plague.


Don’t give up

• Consumer PR is notoriously tougher than B2B, purely because of the sheer amount of competition.
• Even if your first round of pitches is unsuccessful, keep trying. Remember journalists receive thousands of emails every day, so it might be that they just didn’t see your email, didn’t have time to consider it or their slot was full.
• Be persistent and positive and you’ll soon reap the rewards.

Cartwright Communication creates compelling consumer campaigns. Find out more about our media relations service.

By Rosie Needham-Smith

Rosie supports campaigns across the food and drink, architecture, design and retail sectors. She has extensive experience in in-house B2C PR with a background in interiors and design, securing coverage across regional, national and international titles.