We get many ghost written articles placed for our clients, but like with most hard earned media, there is a story behind the recent article we placed in the Portland Business Journal (PBJ). The idea for this commentary was sparked by listening to the worries of our client. Time and time again they expressed their great concern about the lack of qualified employment candidates — rattling off many alarming facts — for these well-paying jobs.
I started on this quest to get the word out by involving the client’s national HR executive, who sent many stats that would be compelling on a national level. I used those stats in an original pitch that also conveyed an urgency of need to the PBJ. I mentioned that I’d have Oregon stats to them, if they were interested. I knew that without Oregon stats I’d have a hard time getting them to run an article but I didn’t want to invest more time in gathering the local figures without buy-in from the editor.
The publication responded to my pitch with strong interest. But they had a very short deadline of four days. It was a Friday and the article would be due the following Tuesday. On top of that, the article was only in the conceptualization phase, not a word had been written, nor had the local research been started. I am not a stranger to working on the weekend, but to make matters worse we were set to go out of town that weekend. But still, without even a draft in hand I knew we had to jump on this. What if another opportunity such as this didn’t open up with the PBJ for this particular client? You only get this level of service with a nibble firm that doesn’t have protocol to jump through.
An outline, along with detailed instructions from me and some specific ideas from the PBJ editor, was provided to our writer Josh who created the first draft over the weekend while we were out of town. As usual, Josh’s article was wonderful but I realized I hadn’t provided him with enough Oregon stats. We always pay close attention to what we promise the press and aim to meet their requests.
Business writers here are lucky that the Oregon Employment Department (OED) offers some amazing economic reports online that detail job outlook and employment stats based on industry. The hard part here was that the skilled trades are not broken out into their own specific category. The stats are lumped into the construction field, which could also consist of non-skilled trade workers such as managers and administrators. Numerous emails and phone calls with the OED helped me understand how I could break out the numbers in a way that made sense for the article. Mind you, by the time I had gotten back from the beach on Monday, I had only one day to turn this around to make deadline. I not only needed to get the Oregon stats in there, but also get it approved through various client layers (including legal!). The OED was very fast in their response to all of my questions and was a wonderful partner in this process.
Getting good articles placed goes way beyond relationships with press. It’s about paying close attention to what’s affecting your clients and translating that in a meaningful way to press. Once you have the attention of the press, you must work to understand their needs and be sure to deliver! It may not always be easy and you may have to hustle, but when articles like these hit, it’s all worth it.