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7 Reasons your competitor was included in a story…but you weren’t

In this guest post, Kathy Casciani identifies some of the main reasons why you might have missed a story opportunity your competitor scored; knowing these is how you might catch it next time

If you have been in the public relations business for a while, you’ve probably heard this dreaded complaint from a client: “My competitor was featured in (insert top-tier media outlet here)….why weren’t we included?”

There are a number of reasons why this may have occurred, but in my experience, here are the most common answers to this question:

1. You haven’t been in business long enough

If your business is newer, your website may lack polish and detail, you may not have a ton of social media content and your product or service may have limited availability. That’s OK! But top media outlets may opt for more seasoned companies to feature. Consider starting with trade and local or regional media while you ramp things up with your business.

2. You haven’t been at the PR game long enough

PR is a long game. The big placements you land are often the result of months or even years of effort building your reputation and media relationships. Be consistent with your PR effort – i.e. don’t quit after a few months! – because smaller wins along the way will help you land the bigger ones down the road.

3. You haven’t increased your visibility on your “owned channels”

I’ve seen many well-established companies fail to lay the foundation for media success. Things like adding a media section to your website, liking and commenting on reporters’ posts and posting on social media or your blog will boost your visibility, provide social proof and help the media find you.

4. Your competitor was perceived as more relevant or compelling

If you aren’t sharing your success stories, subject matter expertise, insider knowledge and unique industry POV via your website, blog, social channels, podcast, speaking, etc. then a reporter may not see you as an obvious story source. In other words, don’t just tell them you’re an expert in X….show them.

5. You weren’t fast enough, and they got there first

PR is often a game of speed. If a media outlet is in need of a story source, they are probably on deadline and those who respond first have the advantage. If you pitch something to a reporter and they bite? Be prepared to drop everything and get them what they need. And know where reporters post their story needs and watch for those opportunities.

6. You aren’t sending the right pitches

Too sale-sy, too long, irrelevant, poor subject line, bad timing, not differentiated enough….there are so many reasons a pitch doesn’t land. That’s a subject for another post, but the bottom line is that your pitch game probably needs work.

7. The reporter knows about your company…but forgot.

Yes, reporters are human. And they have tons of stories on their plate at any one time. So it isn’t surprising that they might leave you out unintentionally. My colleague Scott Merritt shared a story about this happening with a client, but he used it as an opportunity to politely and kindly remind the reporter, which resulted in a standalone feature down the road. #win

Truthfully, there are many other reasons your competitor might have gotten a placement or opportunity that you didn’t get. Maybe their kids go to school with the editor’s kids….who knows? You can’t control all the variables and you certainly aren’t going to get all the opportunities.

But many of the reasons above are things you can control. Focus on improving those things and you’ll increase your chances for PR success!

* * *

Kathy Casciani is the principal of Azul PR + Communications. I first read her ideas in a post she made on LinkedIn – and reached out to her for permission to run it as a guest post.

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Image: DALLE, “draw a man holding up a newspaper – he’s pointing at it and looks upset – in the style of van Ghoh

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