Gaining positive editorial coverage is the holy grail of PR – it’s both free and sometimes unsolicited, an unbiased review which has a guaranteed readership you are unlikely to reach without plenty of effort and time. In two words, free advertising. Starting out and depending on your market, local media titles are your best chance at gaining this kind of coverage.
Coverage will depend on whether something is newsworthy which is why it’s important to consider how your work will be relevant to news titles, whether that’s via the event you are covering, and how best to communicate your story. It may be that the local paper is running a regular feature on new businesses in the community or a spotlight on creative talent who work locally. There are ways to find relevance even if you think you are not doing anything particularly interesting. To you, it may not appear so, but to others the reverse is true.
Spending money on advertising is the same as spending time on pushing yourself in front of editors and journalists. It may not actually bear fruit in the end, it can be a shot in the dark, but at the same time, you are making connections and networking regardless. As mentioned previously, the important thing is to focus your energies effectively and not spend too much time in the process.
Working at and covering events is a great way to maximise the potential in gaining coverage in the press. Of course, this depends on the event, but even low-key weddings have editorial value and the potential to garner coverage. With larger, more public events they are certain to receive local and sometimes national coverage. The importance of networking prior to, during and post event cannot be overstated particularly if you have shots you think are worthy editorial fodder. Usually, you will come across the right people when gaining accreditation but make sure you meet these people, that they remember you and perhaps point you in the direction of other useful contacts is vital.
Another way of doing this is establishing partnerships with prominent venues and making sure they are abreast of your developments. Keeping a hand in with them may not be immediately obvious to begin with but whilst you’re establishing yourself, oftentimes it is luck which will find them seeing you or finding your card when they have an impromptu booking needing coverage that night.
With some experience under your belt, award entries might well be another route to gaining coverage and networking with industry peers in a very positive environment. Competitions are run by every newspaper and website worth their salt and they are free to enter. Again the price of doing this, much like with editorial coverage, is the time you spend doing it. If successful, the rewards are very worthwhile.
PR and editorial coverage is impossible to put a value on, in essence, the coverage you gain is ‘free’, it’s weighing up the opportunity cost of your time to get it, but it should be part of your overall marketing mix.