Content is like everything in life—all that is available straight away and to everyone has a poorer power to attract than the things that are offered exclusively to you. Almost everyone is fighting over products that are in short supply. This is just how we operate—if we can’t have certain things, we want them all the more. How important is exclusive content in everyday relations between PR pros and journalists? And how to make the most of it to give your readers an incentive to take action?
Exclusive content is a strange beast. It goes against our natural inclination to make as much available to as many people all the time. Yet, if done right, exclusive content can be incredibly effective at getting your audience to take action.
If you’re a news provider and have more materials with added value, a good solution for you may be to use the VIP zone — a dedicated place in your newsroom where you can publish exclusive materials for a restricted audience.
Make it exclusive — if people can’t have it, they want it all the more
It can help to secure your piece because most journalists don’t want to write about something that’s been covered already, perhaps by a competing title. There is also potentially the kudos of being the one to break a great piece of news or content.
When content competition is as high as it is today, getting a fresh, original piece of writing—and probably more importantly thinking—is hard won. Giving a window of exclusivity, even if the story is followed by another title, gives the original publisher the right to boast that it got it first.
We incorporate offering exclusivity as part of a broader media relations strategy. All the pieces have to fit, consideration of the value of the news we are offering, the target and importance of the publication and most important, relationship with the editor/reporter. Working with a B2B company that produces research and thought leadership commentary, we find most publications appreciate the opportunity and will work with us for a specific date of publication that matches a broader marketing launch. Yes, the risk of delay or lack of article focus comes into play, but when doesn’t it?
Also, if our story is complicated, it’s worth to sit down to do your homework really well and make a wise choice of which journalist should get this embargoed material—if we give it to a journalist who is an expert in a given field, we’re minimizing the risk that our story will be presented in a way that could harm the company’s reputation.” What stories does she offer as exclusive content? Usually, it’s different kinds of analyses and reviews of the Polish and international markets. According to her, such an exchange of information has a very good effect on our cooperation with journalists, “It helps to reinforce relations and lift the journalist’s ego ;-) (‘they came to me because I’m important’ ;-).”
Should we have the arrangements concerning the embargoed content written down on paper? “If our news is market sensitive and publishing it at the wrong moment would affect the company’s performance on the stock market, for instance, I would recommend eliminating such risks. I, myself (during the nine years of working in the widely understood field of communication), never had to resort to any such formal safeguards like signing an agreement.”
Journalists’ perspective — why they love a good scoop
When I asked her about the most important, from her perspective, aspect of exclusive content, she pointed to the fact that we should make sure our ‘exclusive’ content is truly unique: “If we release a certain piece of information to several media, it’s worth to offer each medium something special—e.g. an interview, a special photo shoot, commentary, etc. If PR pros do want a given story to be published in a specific news outlet, it can’t be exactly the same as what their competitors get.” Justyna also emphasizes the importance of the homework PR pros must do before they get in touch with a journalist—a thorough research and studying the needs of the medium we want to work with is a must! But if the above conditions are met and your news turned out to be of value for the journalist you contacted, you may be sure that he or she will treat you more favorably in the future.
Do these activities even make sense in today’s speeded-up 24/7 media world? “I remember a situation when the editorial team I was part of received an embargoed piece of news from Prowly. When it was finally released, the number of views and positive reactions proved the enormous success of this effort. So—if a story is truly valuable and the journalist has the opportunity to read it and prepare his material in advance, and then publish it at a specific date agreed upon by both sides—I think it makes perfect sense,” argues Justyna.
So what’s it going to be? Can you handle a revolution in your media relation?