I’m a big fan of Facebook.
As a location independent business owner, my office is my ‘she shed’, kitchen table, local cafe or wherever I happen to be in the world at the time.
So Facebook is my watercooler chat, professional network and social circle... all rolled into one.
It also has another important role in my life: helping me keep my news sense (i.e. my instinct on what makes a great media story) firmly in check.
And it can help you too.
What Facebook can teach you about PR
Here’s three examples of stories I’ve shared on my Facebook feed recently that got lots of engagement:
My son: the hero (a first person piece by Jeff Brazier on his young son’s response to his mother’s death)
Why? Because they're all about things people care about/have an opinion on/have experience of (or know someone who has).
Which is exactly why they got coverage in the media.
The Facebook test (and how it can help you)
I’ve recently started using The Facebook Test - a three-step checklist that helps you determine if a story will be of interest to the media - with all my clients. If you’re not active on Facebook you can do this test with any social media network.
Here’s how it works:
Before you hit ‘send’ on a press release or email pitch to a journalist, answer the following three questions.
1.Would my friends* share this story on Facebook?
YES: your story has potential. Move to question 2.
NO: find another idea.
2.Would my friends comment on this story?
YES: your story has potential. Pitch it now or - even better - move to question 3.
NO: find another idea or a different angle on the story.
3.Could this story divide opinion amongst my friends?
YES: your story definitely has potential. Pitch it now.
NO: your story still has potential, but a divisive angle would make it more compelling.
(* If you’re pitching to the industry press, you can substitute ‘friends’ with colleagues)
But I’ll bet my house on the fact some of you are thinking journalists are only interested in covering negative stories.
Not at all.
What they’re interested in is things people care about and/or have an opinion on. And while that can sometimes be about exposing negativity, often it's simply about highlighting things that are unusual, unexpected or just ‘new’.
It’s why the Huffington Post ran this story about plus-size fitness models (the author of this piece runs a company that provides fit camps for plus size women), the Guardian ran this one on fashion trucks or the New York Times covered the rise in gifting subscription boxes. A
Remember that journalists aren't interested in helping you promote your business or brand. In fact - unless you’re paying for advertorial (that is clearly labelled as such) - it would be unethical of them to do so.
What they really care about is creating compelling content for their audience. Content that people will want to talk about to their friends and/or share on social media networks. And people only share when they care.
So it doesn’t matter how excited you are about your industry award, new marketing director or business partnership, if no one you know (aside from your colleagues) will care or have an opinion about it, journalists won’t either. Which means they won't run your story - regardless of how many times you call or email.
Spending a few minutes doing the Facebook test can save your HOURS of wasted time on press releases or pitches that don't get picked up - giving you more time to develop ideas journalists will be interested in.