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PR Tip 26: Find the Adjacent Story Idea

September 7, 2016

 

With anything, it’s easy to fall into patterns and schedules. We reach out to the reporters that we always talk with for a client on topics familiar to them and what they cover on a regular basis. That’s important to do; it’s the bread and butter of a tactical media and analyst relations program. For many companies, that is all they want and expect, and quite honestly, know how to handle. But it can be much more. By more I mean more impactful, more important and for the PR person, a lot more fun.

 

I think this is now more possible than ever. With some of the ways technology is changing and mingling, there are often opportunities to create interest from reporters just outside, and sometimes way outside, your typical client’s core coverage area. If you can show how a product or technology—no matter how obscure or niche—is impacting lives, then you have the ability to generate interesting and compelling coverage.

 

The first thing you’ll need to do is to read outside your clients’ core areas. For instance, if your client is a carbon neutral data center that has several clients running HPC applications, you can look at who is covering renewable energy and HPC. What’s fresh about this approach is that most of these reporters won’t have looked deeply into the specifics of the data center market and the ability to write something new and different might be appealing. We’ve used this tactic to great effect for clients, generating interest and coverage from Newsweek, Smithsonian.com, Forbes, Mashable, New York Times and others. None of the reporters in the list above cover data centers, but all were intrigued by how what they were covering (energy or HPC) was playing an increasingly important role into how data centers are developed.

 

You can also take a step even further afield if you can link what your client is doing to a trend that is developing in that adjacent market. Take the data center example for instance. One of the big issues facing data centers is power availability and the reliability of the energy grid. One of our clients happens to have its data center in Iceland, and Iceland has one of the most reliable energy grids on the planet. It’s also been rated by Cushman & Wakefield as the least risky place to put a data center. We first commissioned a white paper by a respected energy analyst who wrote, “Mind the Gap: Energy Availability and the Disconnect with Data,” and we used this to help create awareness about how energy availability and the rise in compute power requirements was creating risk for CIOs. By pitching a story about how power is becoming a significant risk factor for data centers, we’ve been able to interest reporters in our client’s facility including a story in USA Today.

 

Another great way to look for adjacent coverage opportunities is to leverage your company or clients’ customers. The trick here is to remember that you’re telling their story, not your story. So a pitch that mentions the customer in passing, but focuses on the specifics of what your company or client brings to market won’t work. The pitch needs to capture the issue the customer faced, the challenges they overcame, and how what your company/client provides is a key enabler of them to do more, be better and advance their business objectives. This is the most fun type of pitch as it often allows you to tell the human interest side of the story and when you make that step, all kinds of doors open.

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