PR Hacking 101: Think Like an Editor

The way I learned PR (the way it was taught to me) is to think like an editor. This ‘hack’ may seem pretty easy, and it is. You just need to start getting creative – in your writing.

The PR practice starts with writing. The more you write, create, edit and submit content (in the form of press releases, for example), the more confident you’ll be in navigating the public relations process! Master the writing and you’ll be amazed at how quickly things will happen. You’ll move to sharing and often getting your news in front of a busy editor client – nailing an interview!

Just think like an editor
(or journalist, reporter, blogger or producer)

Think like an editor, and you’ll inspire a story idea, you’ll help the reporter out, and ultimately, you’ll build a relationship with a media contact that will continue long after the new product launch or the biggest event in town.

Just think like an editor! Here’s how:

Find your creative side

For me it was the creative industry of salon professional hair care. After a career in corporate finance, I applied what I knew growing up in a family business and landed a position with Paul Mitchell hair care.

At PM I learned the craft of cutting, styling, coloring and perming -not by actually doing hair – but by launching and marketing an advanced education academy for hairdressers. I brought a business background to my field, but knew nothing about the “visual” creative side.

Here’s how I found my creative side: I had an opportunity to see the work of stylists being performed every day from classic barbering techniques to cutting-edge designs. Being immersed in photo shoots, shows and events was an exciting part. I’ve been talking about the industry ever since.

Recognizing a killer story idea

Having an editor’s “eye” for what makes a story is part skill, but mostly intuition. Practice simply by having your radar up around you all the time. What do you notice? What’s happening? What do you observe? Maybe something you’re writing about can be quickly figured out just by seeing what’s going on around you.

What’s considered news?

In PR, one of your best skills will be to determine what makes a story. “That’s the story” means that out of ALL the information surrounding this one piece of news, there’s one thing that stands out as the most important. Maybe it’s the first of its kind or other noteworthy milestone. Or, it could be newsworthy because of how you see it, and can express it, to the news media.

Being able to look at the big picture while at the same time knowing what is considered editorial or newsworthy is key.

What’s the (Main) Point?

You must nail the “lead” or main point in a traditional press release. (Yes, the best work in the practice still starts with a press release.) Editors expect to see your release and not just a phone call with a bunch of details.

The media expects the PR professional to follow a standard format (forms a triangle) of placing the most important pressing information at the top. That’s called the Lead, and everything else follows as the next most important part of the story. For broadcast, make your subject line the most important piece of news.

More tips to think like an editor:

  • Put yourself in their shoes.
  • Read the news! Read news coverage from all the outlets you’re pitching! Is this something that the editor would be interested in?
  • Make it easy! Easy for the editor to cover the story: Write so they can literally cut and paste the press release content into their column.
  • Timing is everything! You may have the best news release, story idea, etc. but if you’re too late and the topic is already “last season” you’re out of luck. On time, on deadline, and relevant to what the editor writes and his/her audience of readers.
  • Find ways to help. Always stay in touch with relevant information, offer additional help and more.

Looking for some insight or help with your next PR pitch. Give us a holler. We’d be happy to help!