Naturally, a good way of promoting this expertise is through media coverage, but it can be difficult to demonstrate real thought leadership through press releases, which are often short and to-the-point about products, news and events.
Long-form content, such as issue-led articles in leading titles, better allow companies to showcase their knowledge in a way that is not overtly sales-y. As such, securing features in key publications should be an invaluable part of any marketing or PR professional’s strategy.
But how do you make sure your thought leadership features stand the greatest possible chance of being commissioned?
Lead on an issue, not a product
First and foremost, you need to decide what you want to write about. This usually hinges on what product, service or topic your company or client wishes to highlight to the market. But while you’re keen to showcase this wonderful new thing, it should not be the main focus of your feature – after all, that’s what press releases are for.
Journalists can easily tell the difference between a pitch that has something genuine to say, and an advertorial in disguise. A good pitch will place your brand’s message, product or service within a wider issue, researched in advance. For example, if you’re looking to promote a new car with automatic emergency braking, don’t focus on the car – focus on road safety, and accident prevention.
Monitor forward feature lists
Once you’ve decided on a topic, you need to see if there is a demand for it. Many publications, particularly the trade for a B2B audience, will share a forward features list in advance. This way, you can target a relevant pitch at a particular edition.
Topics on forward features lists tend to be broad enough to encourage a wide range of pitches. However, it will generally be clear if your pitch is too obscure or ill-suited to a topic. If this is the case, you can try adapt your pitch to suit but, if this is not possible, look for other opportunities – there’s no point pursuing a lost cause.
Why should they care?
Here’s a challenge – before creating your pitch, try explaining it. If your point or message isn’t clear, chances are you could refine it further. The best pitch ideas are usually easy to communicate and quickly grab your attention.
With this in mind, being clear and concise is a must. Journalists will appreciate this directness – like you, they’re busy people with a million and one things to do.
Also, it goes without saying that you should always consider whether what you’re trying to say can be tied into the wider news agenda, any legislation changes or significant market trends. By taking this approach, you’ll improve your success ratio when pitching.
It bears repeating that journalists are busy people. Don’t be disheartened if your idea for a feature isn’t commissioned straight away.
And it’s always worth following up. Even if your pitch is declined, it’s a great way of being proactive with the media and developing a strong working relationship with them. You never know, there may be a future opportunity that you could be perfect for, and the journalist will then contact you!