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Riding the PR "Roundup"

Cowboy rounding up cattle
Image by Vicki Hamilton from Pixabay

When it comes to PR, of course you'd love a dedicated feature that focuses entirely on you and your news.

 

But very often, you will be instead (or also) be included in a broader story, or what is known as a “roundup.” Don't underestimate the potential value of this type of coverage as well.


Roundup stories typically involve a collection of things. They might summarize events that took place over a certain period of time, such as a year in review; present several examples of a theme or trend; or survey a number of expert sources for their predictions about a specific development. E.g.,


  • A reporter to whom you pitched your company’s announcement might months later also (or instead) include you in a roundup story showcasing “Five Area Businesses That Creatively Reinvented Themselves During COVID.”

  • Your product could be featured in an article listing “20 Great High Tech Gifts with Surprisingly Low Price Tags.”

  • A story might offer predictions and tips from several CPAs discussing the potential impact of an upcoming change in the tax law for small businesses.

 

Despite the unfortunate cattle connotation, inclusion in a roundup story can be just as desirable and impactful as a feature only focused on you—depending on the context, possibly even more so.

On the theory that a rising roundup floats all boats, these are the kinds of stories that businesses with something in common might even get together and collectively/proactively pitch, e.g., after chatting at a local Chamber of Commerce luncheon or association event.


If you don't already have something in common, you can also proactively create that thing, utilizing another technique I like to think of as "stunt PR."

 

Imagine, for example, if you and the other businesses on your town’s main street or in a specific physical or virtual 'shopping district' (online, this could be any group of businesses, based anywhere) decided to promote and host a block party or special shopping day. You could each create special sales or other offerings around a common theme, such as “Shop local this holiday season!” or to benefit a specific charity or community cause. You could each promote this to your respective contacts, and share the cost of the PR.


That’s a feel-good yet legitimate business/community/local economy story wrapped up in a red bow, and many reporters would want to know about it, interview its organizers and cover it. What would make this technically a roundup story is if the reporter listed and linked to every participating business and what they were contributing to the event--e.g., special discounts, refreshments, entertainment, etc.

 

While PR must always be conducted ethically and accurately, it can also sometimes be used aspirationally.


For example, perhaps you've newly opened a cheese shop, in a small and still mostly vacant strip mall. There is one other food-themed business already there (let’s say they make and sell pickles, and offer pickling classes). In fact, that's partly why you decided to lease this space in the first place.


It may not be entirely true yet, but—when pitching local reporters to write a story covering the opening of your new cheese store—what if you also mentioned your neighboring pickle store and simply asked (e.g., in your subject line or at the top of your email) if this strip mall and street might be on its way to becoming a new foodie shopping destination, in an area hungry for but previously lacking such options?


E.g., "IS ROUTE 123 SMITHVILLE'S NEW GOURMET GROCERY ROW? More Cheese Please! opens next to The Power of the Pickle. In a town hungry for options, what nosh might be next?


While this exact story idea, realized, might not technically be a roundup, that's not necessarily the goal. Any such story would also make a new "gourmet grocery row" in Smithville that much more likely to happen. Joining forces would make any pitch you sent to reporters that much richer, full of interesting details about both of your businesses. And you and the other business could share any costs of this PR effort.

 

The resulting story would be more of a roundup if the reporter was inspired by your pitch to instead write about all of the food-related businesses, including yours, that had recently sprung up, in the entire county.


You don’t technically need to know the other relevant businesses in order to collaborate and/or combine with them in this way. While of course you cannot speak for them, you are always perfectly free to suggest other examples that might also work for a story, when reaching out to reporters.

 

For example, let's say that you, a toymaker, are suggesting that reporters write a roundup story about some of “The Most Innovative Toys of the Year,” including your product. Based upon your years of experience in the industry, if you have opinions or observations about other innovative toys that might also work for the piece (and ideally don't complete with yours), and in whose company you would be pleased to be included, you are free to share those examples in your pitch.

 

The reporter, in turn, is free to ignore—and will certainly verify and fact check—any such additional examples you provide, if they decide to consider writing something. But this extra effort might just help to convince the reporter that there is actually a broader story there, and not you just trying to promote your own product and/or service.

 

So, when planning your own PR, remember to think about the many different PR tactics and types of coverage that might benefit you and your business.


The roundup can be a great way to ensure that your business shines, even if you must occasionally share the spotlight.

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