How to get an HR Editor's attention
Lisa Baker, Editor for Employer News shares her advice on getting coverage in the HR press.
As the Editor for Employer News, I sometimes receive 160 emails per day. Only a handful of these news stories will make it to publication - so how can you get my attention?
A full inbox is a way of life for HR Editors and initially, I look for news stories I can delete fast. These are usually the first casualties:
Anonymous automated emails from services like Response Source are great because I don’t need to return an email – a weak story can just be deleted. Strong stories still go forward for further review but 50% of them are often deleted very fast!
I then switch my attention to weeding out the personally-sent stories which break the ‘unwritten rules’. HR is a market where professionalism and trust are essential.
Any of the following faux pas will see your story rejected:
· Unreliable claims and sources
I don’t share content which makes untrue or unverifiable claims. If you aren’t ‘the largest HR software business in the UK’, don’t say it. If you can verify it, provide evidence.
I also won’t share thought leadership or advice pieces unless the author can establish authority and trust. This could include being an HR supplier, being a respected business leader or holding appropriate qualifications (CIPD, law or a related profession such as occupational health). The source should be attributable and named. The publication has a duty to protect the professionals who read our news and we won’t share advice from unnamed laypeople.
· Weak or sales-led stories
Purely product news is rarely of interest to HR Managers. Badly written promotional case studies fall within the same vein. Sales-led copy is the worst offender for rejection by a news-led publication – save it for your company brochures.
What matters to Editors
My role is not to please the people who share stories with me. My role is to share content that my HR audience will find interesting.
HR news and updates are always of interest, whether that’s CPD, changes to best practice, recent case law, legal changes and different takes on HR topics that are in the mainstream news.
Opinion and thought leadership pieces from trusted HR leaders are also interesting, as well as information, education, surveys and commentary on current HR topics.
Why are my stories rejected all the time?
Business owners and marketing teams with no media training often struggle to secure coverage for their brand because they don’t understand the basics, focusing on their product rather than the audience.
Your primary focus should be engaging readers – and only that.
Focus firmly on HR and what is happening within the sector, not just your product. If you mention a product, gently relate it to solving challenges within the sector. Seek to inform, advise, consult.
Going it alone will usually mean more rejections and could possibly even damage your brand.
The value of media relations in the HR sector
For the majority of businesses operating in the HR sector, the fastest route to getting noticed by the HR press is to hire a specialist media relations professional – they already have our trust and are skilled at writing content that will engage our audience.
Of course, professional friendships play a part, because PRs are generally nice people, and I love our email conversations about the three W’s, Wine, the Weekend and Weather!
However, it’s trust, not friendship that truly drives our professional relationships.
I am more likely to share a story from a trusted PR because apart from writing on topics that interest my audience:
a) They understand media relations and write in our publication’s style
b) I trust their copy and
c) I won’t have to spend hours editing it.
Ultimately, good content is what drives my passion for running Employer News.
Even in the midst of 160 emails, if you have my trust and provide content that will engage my readers, you’ll attract my attention.