7 Do’s and Don’ts for Generating Publicity in Mortgage Trade Media
You are charged with generating publicity for your company. There are so many exciting aspects about your firm to tell the world, but where do you start? As is usually the case in life, you start with the people—not your people, but the people in the media.
Reporters are a diverse group, each with unique characteristics. As a publicist, it is my job to get to know reporters and their preferences. My 20 years in the mortgage media have taught me much about dealing with the people who report mortgage-related news. Here is some of what I’ve learned.
1. Be Aware of Recent News Coverage
One of the most important factors in pitching your company or idea to a news reporter is being aware of current hot topics, as well as topics to avoid.
For instance, when COVID stay-at-home orders went into effect early last year, the capital markets swooned, and it appeared we might be facing another mortgage meltdown. At that time, a story about job hirings might have been in high demand as companies feared having to make potential staffing cuts.
However, as it became evident that the capital markets remained intact and a historic refinance wave was taking place, news about hirings was widespread, and the topic became of less interest to journalists and editors. So, pitching a story about recruiting to news outlets required other interesting aspects beyond hirings, such as a company looking to fill an extraordinary number of positions or issues related to working from home.
I personally review trade news and non-trade news about mortgages every day. In addition, I review industry and government reports weekly. This helps me present the best possible press outreach to reporters and editors on behalf of my clients.
2. Pitch a Story, Not a Company
Publicists often try to sell news reporters on a company. They talk about how the company cares for its employees, offers the best pricing or is the fastest growing in the sector. They try to convince the reporter to write about how great their company is.
Unless your company is doing something that is of interest to the mortgage industry—i.e. your company is launching a big IPO or it hired more people than any other mortgage firm—its success is generally not of interest to journalists.
Instead, your press outreach needs to focus on some key current issue in the industry and how your company addresses that issue. For example, there is a shortage of loan underwriters plaguing real estate finance as a result of robust refinance volume—but your company was able to hire and train new underwriters using a unique training system.
3. Don’t Sell the Reporter—Help the Reporter
Remember, your objective is not to convince a reporter that your idea or company is good, it is to get a story published that raises your company’s profile in a positive manner. Reporters receive a deluge of pitches each day and don’t have time to sift through all of them. Make your pitch stand out by helping the reporter come up with a good story. If they aren’t interested, be respectful of their decision and don’t pressure them.
4. Piggyback on Another Report that Supports Your Announcement
Adding another source to your pitch makes it easier for the reporter to write a better story. For instance, let’s say your company is in the business of helping servicers reduce delinquencies. A current government or industry report about an increase in mortgage delinquencies would be a nice complement to your company’s announcement. This is one reason why reviewing government and industry reports weekly can be very helpful.
Another possibility is to pitch two sources to reporters. While one of the sources will be your company, another source—say, another company that helps servicers with loss mitigation—would help the reporter’s story be more credible because they are using diverse sources. In this case, the second source gets free publicity while your pitch gets a better reception from the editorial community. At the agency we have many clients who are in related businesses, giving me a broad array of additional sources for my press outreach. Plus, it makes the reporter’s job easier because they don’t have to go looking for more sources for their story.
5. Talk in the Reporter’s Language
There are subtle differences between reporters at various news outlets. Understanding these differences will help you communicate more effectively. Some reporters like to interview multiple sources for a story, while others do no interviews and only cover press releases. Understand this before you pitch your idea. Your press outreach to a reporter who writes short blog posts will be completely different than one to a journalist who interviews multiple sources for each story. My time in mortgage media has enabled me to develop a deep understanding of what each reporter and news outlets does.
6. Don’t Pitch a Story that the Reporter Has Already Covered
One of the most embarrassing situations that can happen during press outreach is to pitch a reporter on an angle that the reporter just covered. This is where being up to date on trade news can help. I made this blunder a few times early in my career, and regularly reviewing trade news helps me avoid making that mistake again.
7. Understand What the Reporter Writes About
Within the mortgage trade media, there is a diverse set of reporters who cover a variety of topics. In many cases, there is little overlap among them. You wouldn’t want to waste the time of a journalist who covers capital markets with a pitch about how to originate more loans. It’s important to separate pitches about diversity and inclusion stories from stories about loss mitigation.
It took some time and hundreds of pitches for me to get this right, so be patient and diligent as you build your publicity machine. And of course, if you’d like help in getting your company great publicity in the mortgage industry, be sure to reach us at Info@StrategicVantage.com. We’ve been making people, products and companies famous for years.
By Sam Garcia, Publicist, Strategic Vantage