Fishing for coverage

Written by Bill Thomas

On a chilly lunchtime stroll around Green Park last week at the height of an exciting media sell-in, after crossing the creaky wooden bridges and emerging at the foot of one of the many lakes on-site, I noticed a keen fisherman with a big bushy beard, patiently waiting for his latest catch.

At first baffled by the sight of a fully-geared up fisherman in a deck chair, eating cold baked beans from a tin in a business park, I walked on.

After a few moments, however, it suddenly hit me. Maybe we weren’t so different, him and I. After all, my role as an Account Executive trying to secure media coverage at a PR agency, is often much like fishing.

To demonstrate this theory (and prove that I haven’t completely lost the plot), let me explain! Here are the top four similarities between fishing and trying to secure media coverage:

  1. Plan properly – That fisherman (we’ll call him Steve to make things easier) would have done his research before spending the day setting up site near 100 Longwater Avenue. After all, before even casting his line in the water, Steve would have come fully equipped with a host of relevant knowledge to ensure that he had a stronger chance of catching his chosen target, i.e. that it was the right time of year and that he was in the right place.

The importance of conducting this thorough research sparks many essential similarities with the skill of media relations. Knowing things like your key publications deadlines, when best to contact editors, and which journalists will be interested in your new story or press release, will allow you to be far better placed to secure a great piece of coverage.

  1. The right hook – Even if Steve had spent hours identifying the perfect time of year to catch a fish and had found the ideal location to do so, it would count for very little if he didn’t have the right bait on his line. Why would any sensible fish swim aimlessly towards a suspicious metal hook if it didn’t have something to attract it to do so?

This comparison might seem slightly more far-fetched but stick with me! Even if we approach a top-tier publication way before deadline, or we contact a journalist that is perfectly placed to cover our story, it counts for nothing if we approach them with something that is weak or unoriginal. Having the right hook can range from a topical angle, powerful research findings or a notable spokesperson, all of which will be far more likely to entice a publication!

  1. Patience and perseverance – For all we know, Steve may have had a lovely day listening to Radio 4 podcasts and slowly watching the world go by, but the life of a fisherman is sometimes sadly characterised by disappointment. He may have gone to the perfect location and been armed with a desirable bait, but the Green Park lakes can be a cruel mistress and Steve may have caught nothing that day for no reason other than bad luck. Amidst this, having patience and being perseverant is the key to ensuring that you have long-term prosperity as a fisherman.

The feeling when you spend hours constructing specifically tailored pitches to journalists that you know would love your story only to receive no response is a humbling one and at first, it can be highly demotivating. However, the greatest failure would be to change your personalised approach and not continue to put the effort in to take care with your media relations as a result. By embodying patience and perseverance in the face of setbacks, we too will profit from long-term success!

  1. The buzz of a big game catch – With success never being guaranteed, the feeling when Steve catches a big fish is sure to be an amazing one. Finally, his meticulous pre-planning, precise choice of location, perfectly sculpted bait and immense tenacity have been rewarded and he now has the prize to show for it! We can only assume that at the end of a triumphant day like this, Steve eventually packs up his things, and he walks all the way home with a huge smile on his face, all the while engulfed with joy at the thought of doing it all again.

Thankfully, in our pursuit of media coverage, we can get a similar thrill when our hard work pays off and our clients’ insights are featured in a national publication or a top-tier trade title. Much like Steve, the moment that we achieve this for our clients, the time and effort spent planning, strategising and liaising with publications, is suddenly forgotten. We’re able to celebrate our hard work, and stress turns to jubilation.

Hooked by this blog or think it’s all a bit fishy? Salmon had to say it!