Using data to get media attention isn’t as hard as you think

Your company is not special. Your product is probably not “revolutionary”. Very few people care that your best-selling system has a new feature – and I guarantee no one cares that you hired a new CFO.  

Sorry (not sorry) for the hard truths, but the simple fact is that most companies still don’t understand what makes a good story. What you think makes a great story is probably not the same as what a journalist considers to be a great story – this is mainly because journalists know their readers won’t care about what you have to say. To make things harder, shrinking newsrooms translate to journalists being more stretched than ever, so your press release will often go unread and that interview you pitched will likely never happen.

Now that’s all out of the way, it’s time for the good news: the best stories you possess have actually been at your disposal this whole time. Okay, there might be some digging around to find the right spreadsheets, but the point is you’re probably already sitting on a goldmine and you don’t even know it. 

Because the way to get a journalist’s attention is with – say it with me now – DATA! 

Even if you don’t have anything interesting to say, you can create news with data. When handled the right way and moulded into a usable story, data can deliver the media attention you have always wanted, but have never been able to achieve – even with paid content. 

But first, a quick PR lesson

Before we can talk about why data is essential to your PR strategy, we need to touch on why public relations might not currently be working for you. If you’ve been burned before by agencies that promise the world, but only hand over a ‘strategy’ that relies on press releases, then this is especially relevant for you: 

Despite what you may think, you are not important. A story is never going to be about how awesome your company or product is – that is not news. News is a story that’s broader than an announcement of something new (unless that new thing is incredibly timely). News is something that has impact and affects people’s lives or businesses. It’s timeliness, something close to  what we value, and something that carries a human interest angle or solves a conflict. News is unique and it carries consequences. News is not hyperbole and exaggerated claims of being “the best”, “the newest” or “the most revolutionary”. 

Your goal to get the media’s attention is to provide a reason for them to write about you. This means selling them a story, not a product, and avoiding your usual press releases chock-full of corporate jargon that says a lot about, well, nothing. If your press releases and pitches haven’t been picked up, it likely because you or your agency haven’t figured out how to tell your story in a compelling way. You need to speak the journalists’ language and give them information that can be turned into news – this is why they love data. 

Create the news for journalists using your own data 

If you think the only way to share news is via press releases, then how are you going to get anything written about you in between each pitch? When there’s no news to share, data is a vehicle that can be used to create news and provide new avenues and angles for journalists to explore, based on real, unique statistics that tell a story. There are a couple of ways you can do this: 

  1. Use a research agency to run a survey: This is the most expensive option, but a streamlined way to gather new data on a particular topic or issue across a broad sample. A good PR agency will get involved at the early stage of survey creation, ensuring the right questions are being asked to get the headlines you want at the other end.
  2. Run your own survey: You might not have the money for a research agency, but perhaps you have a big database of clients and customers? There are an abundance of online tools that allow you to send out surveys and questions to your existing and potential customers. Some agencies (*cough cough, hello!*) can help you manage this entire process from end-to-end to ensure you get the best and most accurate data.
  3. Delve into your own existing data: Chances are you’re sitting on a mountain of data that can actually be used to tell a story – you just need someone to identify what that story may be. This is why it’s often good to connect your communications team or agency to other parts of the business (such as the sales team) to better understand what data you have, and then to provide guidance on how it can be used in PR.
  4. Use third party research paired with your own thought leadership: If you don’t have any of the above, it doesn’t matter. There is so much research out there you can draw from to create interesting whitepapers and tip sheets on a topic. Add in some high-level commentary and thought leadership from your company’s key spokespeople, and you’ve got yourself a pretty compelling piece of content to share. 

Reverse engineer your approach 

When constructing your survey and data-led approach, you need to consider your end goals and work backwards from the headlines you want to achieve. This is why it’s so important to work with an agency partner that has a strong editorial team and understanding of how news editors operate. If you can provide a media outlet with exactly the right kind of headline and angle, you’re more likely to get the epic coverage you’re craving. 

For example, let’s say a recruitment company is looking to increase its contract roles in light of the growing gig economy, and needs to attract more employers to enlist their services in filling these roles. Ideally, they’re hoping to gain awareness via a PR push that gets their company name and expertise in front of their target demographic across trade and business publications.

The agency, understanding these goals, suggests a survey of both employees and employers in their target market and industries to find out what the biggest needs, challenges, and misconceptions are about gig economy workers, their salary expectations, key attraction factors and ultimate career goals. The survey questions are constructed to gather the most relevant information that can be used individually and comparatively, to result in potential compelling headlines such as: 

“One in three companies in Singapore are expanding workplace benefits to cover ‘gig’ talent” 

Or 

“Growth in Singapore’s gig economy workers set to grow by 30% in 2020” 

By understanding the types of headlines a client wants to achieve (specific to each target publication, of course) the agency can construct a better, more effective survey that asks the right questions. The end result? A compelling story that can be told in a newspaper, via a live broadcast interview, or written into a professionally designed report to share with both media and client customers. 

We won’t lie: a lot of work is required to turn this from ideation to execution, but the outcomes are well worth the effort. In fact, for one of our clients, a SG$15,000 investment in data-led insights resulted in a 3,000% ROI via the creation of a report and a push via PR and lead generation campaign.  

The content you can create with the right data is a story that never stops being told. Your data belongs to you, and you can use it across social media, to write blogs or to create entire advertising campaigns. You can continue to refer to your unique statistics and data-led insights for years to come, building crucial credibility and educating your customers not only on what you do, but why they should give a crap.

Need help talking to journalists? Drop us a line at hello@mutant.com.sg.

 

4 PR Trends to Look Out For in 2019

It’s that time of year where companies take stock of their performance in the first quarter of 2019 and make plans on how best to move into their new fiscal year. If your numbers aren’t what you hoped, or it’s clear you need a new strategy, now is the time to pivot. To help get you on your way, here are four PR trends you should watch out for in 2019:

1) Content marketing will be better aligned with PR

PR teams are often the best advisors to lead the content marketing narrative, as they own the brand narrative and are great at storytelling. As marketing teams see an increase in engagement and quality leads driven by strong content strategies, PR folks will move from just amplifying content to being more involved with assisting in the initial stages of crafting it.

2) PR pros will prove their worth with savvy measurements

Moving beyond vanity metrics, PR teams will be under pressure to prove how they have impacted the bottom line. PR firms that don’t do this well will get left behind. By showcasing how earned media ties into building awareness, engagement, trust and even leads, 2019 will be a year of absolute accountability. Using tools to measure share of voice, sentiments and lead generation is the way forward.

3) PR tech stack will drive more efficiencies 

Gone are the days where an entire morning is spent media monitoring (thank goodness!). With news alerts pushed 24/7, there’s simply no reason to do this any longer.

From data-driven newsjacking to spotting a crisis before it escalates through real-time social listening, the right tech tools can help a team focus on what’s important by automating tasks – such as reporting and upkeeping an ever-changing media database. PR teams should invest in the right tech stack in 2019 to become more efficient and agile.

4) More journalists will join the “dark side”

The “dark side” is an old trope, but it ain’t so “dark” anymore. As the need for great content-driven by storytelling increases, more writers – including experienced journalists and editors – will find great opportunities in communications. At Mutant, we have built a team of senior editors and writers who are essential to creating smart content that’s amplified through PR.

At the end of the day, storytelling is at the core of what we do as PR professionals, and that won’t change. But how brand stories are told and the ways in which PR and marketing teams operate are changing – and those companies that need to breathe new life into their strategies should consider jumping in on these four trends in order to have a great 2019.

If you want your brand to keep up in 2019 and beyond, give us a shout at hello@mutant.com.sg

Is product placement right for your brand?

Remember that epic selfie Ellen DeGeneres took at the 2015 Academy Awards ceremony with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3? That tweet not only broke the record for retweets previously set by President Obama, but also caused Twitter’s servers to crash.

At this year’s Golden Globes, Fiji Water attempted a similar stunt by hiring model Kelleth Cuthbert, who spent most her time photobombing stars on the red carpet while holding a tray of Fiji Water bottles. The stunt worked: the hashtag #FijiWaterGirl trended on Twitter, and earned 98.9 million impressions on the platform.

As far as product placements go, Samsung is still the one to beat – but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for successful product placement. Brands are often torn between seamlessly integrating products into the broader narrative, or making it apparent enough to trigger a viral moment on social media.

So, how do you decide what’s right for your brand?

Start with a goal
The goal of any product placement is to reach your target audience, but having precise goals is key to ensuring success. Do you want to drive brand awareness? Is it higher recall you’re after, or are you aiming for greater brand loyalty? Answering these questions will not only inform your strategy and approach, but also help identify the metrics you use to measure success.

Whatever your objectives are, public relations can play a crucial role in reaching your desired audience, and then sparking and shaping conversations with them. There are many ways a strong PR strategy can do this – and tied with a content marketing approach it can go beyond awareness and actually drive leads for your business that you can track and measure.

Make it believable
Pulling off a product placement tie-in is only successful if it is believable. When deciding on a partnership, brands need to identify whether it’s a good fit and in line with its own tonality and values.

Don’t force your brand into a piece of content where it doesn’t feel right – because you will get called out. Reebok’s association with Jerry Maguire is a great example of product placement gone wrong. Reebok paid production company Tristar $1.5 million to feature its products, but the company somehow ended up being portrayed as a villain because of its refusal to sponsor Cuba Gooding Jr’s character. After some legal back and forth, the two companies reached a settlement, which included an ad for Reebok in the film’s credits.

Consider different content types
For most marketers, TV shows and movies are obvious product placement choices. But increasingly, we’re seeing brands experimenting with other formats, only to reap rich rewards. Coca Cola and Subway have both used video games to promote their brands, while musicians like Lady Gaga and Kanye West have seamlessly included brands in their music videos. For instance, brands such as Miracle Whip, Polaroid and Virgin Active made conspicuous appearances in her “Telephone” video, while West’s video for “Wolves” doubled as a promotional ad for fashion house Balmain.

As a marketing tactic, product placements can work incredibly well or backfire spectacularly – so be savvy and cover all your bases when considering a new association.

Want to put some cool products in your ad? We’ll tell you how to go about it when you email us at hello@mutant.com.sg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 PR Lessons We Can Learn from Bey And Jay

Recently, Beyoncé and Jay-Z dropped their first fully collaborative album, The Carters. Critics and fans alike immediately embraced the tracks and hailed the LP as a celebration of Black art, excellence and legacy.

Over the years, the Carters have managed to exert an ironclad control over their public image despite their humongous stature. The four-pronged strategy of largely staying clear of public squabbles and scandals, carefully curating their social media feeds, rarely giving interviews and not hyping their new projects before they’re released has only deepened the mystery surrounding hip hop’s foremost family. This decision is no accident – the couple is notoriously private and this strategy has infused intrigue into their reputation. Because they are rarely in the public eye, when they do pop up, it seems that the whole world sits up and takes notice of them.

From a business perspective, this type of PR strategy seems impossible to implement. But there are some lessons that can be gleaned – here’s what we can learn from the Carters:

Controlling the Narrative

When rumours of trouble in the couple’s marital paradise broke out in 2013, neither party added fuel to the fire. Unlike other celebrity couples who rush to give a statement when their relationships hit rock bottom, the Carters remained mum on the state of their marriage. They addressed the hearsay when Beyoncé released Lemonade in 2016, an entire album peppered with lyrics and visuals that suggested the possibility of marital strain. The endless speculations that ensued proved to be massively profitable for both Jay-Z and Beyoncé.

While controlling the narrative should be a basic skill for any company’s PR team, in this age of hyperconnectivity and non-stop streaming, firms will find themselves with a very small window of time to prevent crisis situations from becoming communications disasters. Whether it’s appeasing a crowd bent on obtaining answers or addressing unsavoury gossip, it’s imperative to weave a story that sets the tone for all future conversations surrounding the topic at hand. That way, your narrative will drown out all other chatter.

A Well-Oiled Social Media Machine

Both Beyoncé and Jay-Z are known to shun traditional PR paths when announcing new content. For albums Beyoncé and Lemonade, Beyoncé decided to bypass mainstream media outlets and release the albums digitally via an announcement that came from her own account. By doing this, she broke the fourth wall and gave the content directly to her fans via social media. The result? Unprecedented success for both albums. For Lemonade specifically, the release of the album was timed at a juncture when social media was rife with conversations surrounding racial tensions and feminism, and the album’s messages on both topics seemed especially poignant. The couple also demonstrates a deep understanding of curated visuals in today’s social media landscape, as reflected in the multiple music videos of Lemonade and Jay-Z’s 4:44.

It’s no secret that combining social media and highly creative visuals is a winning combination. But to ensure the success of your client’s products upon launch, you must leverage social media to reach your target audience. Follow up with a steady stream of high-quality visual content that’s shareable, accessible and most importantly, relevant.

Authenticity

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a recent Beyoncé or Jay-Z interview. Instead of relying on the media, or even social media, to give fans an inside look at their lives, both Bey and Jay prefer to pour little details of their life into their music. Beyoncé’s mastery of social media is impressive – she occasionally posts rare snapshots from her day-to-day life, puts time and effort into creating a spectacle when announcing milestones and hardly ever adds captions or hashtags, letting the images speak for themselves. As a result, fans interpret and discuss the images, and are left wanting more.

Audiences are smart and can easily discern an inauthentic brand. So cut through the clutter by staying true to your brand’s core values and identity; be honest and daring, let your voice ring true in all your communications and never be afraid to weigh in on issues that are pertinent to your business.

Though you may encounter 99 problems, PR should never be one. A good PR strategy is irreplaceable – so why not invest time and energy in creating a fail-proof communications game plan? Reach out to us if you’re in the dark about how to get started.

Need help crafting the ideal PR strategy? Drop us a message at hello@mutant.com.sg

(Cover photo source: Pinterest)

More than words – why PR should embrace data

The world of PR is more than words. As data is becoming increasingly democratised, ‘big data’ buzzwords are flooding into every industry – including PR. While the days of merely managing relationships and clippings are over, data is a highly crucial factor for successful campaigns today. PR professionals are experts in creating original media angles and pitching stories. But data can help to refine and sharpen these angles even further.

Many tech companies find it difficult to justify or see the immediate value of hiring PR. However, the business insights of companies can be the missing piece that helps to showcase thought leadership, gives a new market perspective and makes stories more interesting to the media and their readers.

PR is not product release

Product news releases are a big part of the PR world, but editorial teams have taken a strict stance on not publishing anything too closely-related to product releases. In today’s world, readers are far more discerning about advertising and sponsored content, therefore it’s crucial for media outlets to be objective. This makes it even harder for smaller companies to be heard at all. So, why would companies still hire PR professionals to create and distribute product releases?

A mere product release no longer has much impact in today’s busy media world. Data doesn’t just indicate a number of PR hits – it can actually proof points. Putting things into perspective, data can offer context and new PR angles. Using simple metrics, companies can share their real success stories. No matter if it’s the launch of a new product or industry trends – all of it can easily be quantified with ROI and other gathered data.

Turning data into insights

Collecting data before the conception of the PR campaign can offer key insights, shining a new light on the company’s product release. The successful communication of new products needs not only the accurate description of its benefits but demands a wider business context and key insights from the market. For example, a company offering ICT solutions won’t receive much media coverage with a mere product release. However, paired with a survey insight, such as ‘95% of APAC CIOs are actively seeking help with the digital transformation of their companies’, a product release can become major industry news.

Here are 4 tips to incorporate data into your PR strategy:
  1. Analyse product and market
  2. Interpret data with focus on product-market fit
  3. Align product communication with key market or business insight
  4. Design PR campaign around insights and product

Once you have collated your data from your research, it needs to be interpreted. An analysis is essential in this situation. PR professionals need to be able to slice, dice, and analyse data that drives new insights and interests journalists, whilst ensuring the company is represented in the best possible way.

Need some help to strengthen your PR messages with insightful data? Drop us a message to hello@mutant.com.sg

How to use PR to beat ad-blocking

If you’re a tech company operating in Asia, know this: you’re operating in the same region where 93% of mobile ad-blockers are located. As more browsers introduce built-in ad blocking, more of Asia will be cut off from online ads.

Ad-blocking hides most, if not all ads on a website. Its usage is growing rapidly in APAC because of potential bandwidth savings in countries with developing internet infrastructure. Using an ad blocker is typically a matter of downloading an app or browser extension, or turning on browser settings. With ad-block turned on, the area your ad is supposed to occupy is replaced with blank space.

The advertising industry is adapting by making ads more personalised and targeted, but there is also another channel that has existed long before digital advertising: Public Relations, aka PR.

PR targets readers by bringing the brand experience to the media they read, the people they follow or the places they visit. It is targeted messaging before Adwords Custom Affinities and Facebook Audience Insights; it is content marketing before your mailing lists started bringing in conversions.

Unlike other channels, most of PR is earned, and then supported by paid or owned content. Great PR can be a blessing for a startup looking for that big break, or an established multinational running a user acquisition campaign. Look no further than Pokémon Go for an example of how a product went viral on a wave of PR.

A journalist or influencer who writes about you positively is essentially giving a very valuable third party endorsement. This puts you on the radar of their readers and fans. Since the media decides what to post on their site, relevant content will go a long way. Instead of a direct sell, PR is a chance to tell a more personalised brand story readers can identify with and be inspired by.

Formulating a winning PR strategy

Earning PR coverage comes down to two things: good homework and good relationships. Homework means doing research on what people in your space are talking about. Some easy places to start are:

  • Your target publications
  • Social media insights of your fans and followers
  • Online professional communities such as LinkedIn groups and Quora
  • Google Trends

After finding out what people are talking about, think of how your brand can fit in, and the best way to communicate that. If it’s a press release, draft it. If it’s an infographic, map out the stats and design it. If it’s a cute cat video… good luck, there’s a lot of competition out there. If you need help creating great content, check out some of our useful resources such  as the copywriting guide or the guide to writing tech content.

It’s wise to put yourself in the journalist’s shoes – imagine you are a very busy person receiving over 1,000 emails a day, sitting by a phone that never stops ringing. You also have a reputation to maintain as an unbiased authority in your field. So why should they cover your story?

Well, it’s not through luck. Your story must have a hook, but not a hard sell. It must be factual, yet sound exciting. It presents the complete picture to the journalist, yet stays concise enough to be scanned through. And it must grab attention within the first seven words they see. If you think you have that all down, run it by a trusted friend, or a professional just to make sure.

If you are ready to take your communications to the next level, drop us a note today at hello@mutant.com.sg.