The Art of the Exclusive: When and How to Leverage This Media Strategy

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As PR professionals, we’re entrusted to determine the most effective way for brands to share their stories and ensure the right audiences are fully aware and informed of breaking news. Often, the goal is to generate coverage of an announcement with as many key media outlets as possible. But sometimes, one deep-dive story in the right publication would accomplish as much if not more awareness than numerous placements of news briefs — and that’s when an exclusive media placement strategy comes into play.

What Is an Exclusive?

An exclusive is the offer of your news to one reporter who will publish the story first, giving them exclusive access to cover the news before, or sometimes at the same time as, the press release crosses the wire. The rationale behind an exclusive centers around the interests of a reporter and their audience. Reporters are truth tellers and story crafters — and one of the key components of a great true story is that it’s noteworthy and new. 

Exclusives are a mutually beneficial approach: a reporter breaks the news before competing media outlets, and the brand lands an in-depth piece of coverage in a desired outlet. 

This strategy can also help strengthen a relationship between your team and the reporter, as you build trust with the person who is sharing your news.

What Type of News Warrants an Exclusive?

Not all news is worthy of an exclusive. The strategy will only work if a reporter truly considers your announcement major news. Therefore, make sure you can check these boxes before pursuing the exclusive route:

  • Will your news have a major impact on your industry?
  • Do you have a media-trained spokesperson and third-party references you can offer for interviews? Can those spokespeople share a look behind the curtain about the inspiration behind this news and how your company plans to continue to build on it?
  • Have you sourced supporting data that illustrates the impact of your news? Is there a why behind the what of your announcement? 
  • Have you identified a reporter who covers your industry or this type of news? Bonus: Has this reporter published exclusives in the past?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, it’s worth considering taking an exclusive route. If you answered no, that doesn’t mean your announcement isn’t worth sharing. Instead, consider other media strategies to promote your news, including a press release, targeted pitching, and social media support via your owned channels. 

Who Should I Offer an Exclusive To?

Identifying the right reporter and media outlet is vital to the success of an exclusive strategy. Before reaching out to a reporter with an exclusive offer, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Does the reporter regularly cover your industry? 
  • Does this reporter or outlet accept exclusives in the first place? If you don’t know, ask. 
  • Will the media outlet get your news in front of the right audience? 
  • Do you have the data, details, and third-party references that the reporter typically uses to shape their coverage? 

Take the time to research and read up on reporters’ articles and expertise to pick the right one for your exclusive offer. If you already have a relationship with the reporter, that’s even better.

I’ve Decided to Offer an Exclusive … Now What?

Give yourself and the reporter enough time to develop the story. Approach the reporter under embargo with your pitch at least two weeks in advance, giving both parties time to develop and prepare the story. Allow enough time to schedule interviews, provide assets, fact check, and more. 

You should also consider leaving a few hours between when the exclusive runs and the press release is distributed to help generate interest from additional media who may want to publish the news as a fast follow to the exclusive. Additionally, share the story via your company’s social media channels, newsletter, and press page. 

The Art of the Exclusive

While it can be a time-consuming process, exclusives can be a successful strategy to help brands communicate important news. Knowing how to evaluate if your news fits the exclusive criteria will help build credibility and strengthen relationships with key media contacts and, ultimately, your target audiences.

Learn more about how we can help your brand build an agile and effective news program.

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