At some point, everyone working in PR lands that one client and knows it will be damn near impossible to secure any significant news coverage.
What do you do? You can’t tell the client their cause/product/announcement is so boring that even blogs that take contributed content would turn up their nose. Instead, it’s time to get creative. After all, that’s why we get paid. Here are some tips for spinning hay into gold.
Interview Customer Service or Call Centers
Do you know how many wild and interesting stories people working in call centers hear? If your client has a customer service department or call center, request a 30-minute meeting with a seasoned employee.
Ask for the craziest story, the most frequently asked questions, or tips they think could help the business. Then, turn that information into content.
Does your client manufacture toilet seats? The call center employees likely can rattle off the top five most frequently asked questions they get about bathrooms and toilets, like how to replace a broken plastic lug nut or the best way to clean the seat. Turn it into a “Top 5” list and pitch it to plumbing and home improvement magazines.
Look to the Client’s Clients
Even if your client is a total snooze, the organizations they work with likely aren’t. Look for success stories you can potentially pitch as case studies or feature stories. There must be some interesting reason why they’re doing business together.
For example, I’ve had a series of clients that developed software solutions so complex that most IT professionals were left scratching their heads, not to mention journalists. But their business partners ranged from Target to AT&T to the U.S. government, and the unique solutions they provided were actually remarkable. That’s the story.
Don’t Ask the CEO
Lastly, when looking for an interesting story angle, don’t ask the CEO. For lack of a better phrase, he or she drank the Kool-Aid and might not remember the simple things that make the company cool.
Instead, strike up a conversation with someone newer to the business. Why did they choose to work there (assuming it wasn’t only because they desperately needed a job)? In their first few weeks of working for the company, what struck them as the most interesting part of the business?
For a CEO who is in the weeds – and likely has been for years – the simple “Wow” moments can be lost. When you interview someone fresh to the company, it reintroduces what a journalist – an outsider – might also find interesting about the company.