This story is about my roots in media relations and messaging. In particular, it’s about IKEA media relations and messaging!
I read the Wall Street Journal paper edition every day. If I can’t get to it in the morning, I’ll scan the headlines. That’s what happened recently — I was on the phone with mom and exclaimed, “You gotta be freaking kidding me.’IKEA Adds Veggie Balls to Menu.'”
It was right there under ‘Business News’ with a full-color image larger than life (about 8 x 10 in inches) with a story right below. I am agog; here’s why.
Media Relations And Messaging
I hail from Chicago’s PR agencies in core media relations as a former purist, publicist, and public relations-only professional. Every day in my Chicago agency days I did media relations and messaging. To those not in the know, that means publicity and story pitching to journalists who hated that word — ‘publicist.’ I sat on the phones for eight hours daily as a captive AE pitching media. I know a slow news day when I see one.
Today, I’m no longer practicing like that on a daily basis; alas, public relations has changed. The messaging and media relations I do is oriented to message mapping and finding the news hook to do media relations the digital way. But, that’s all for another day.
IKEA Got Lucky
Now, I don’t discount the fact that IKEA is a multinational brand and largest furniture maker in the world consumers love. I don’t discount either its likely phenomenal media relations team who also likely consists of young publicists pitching media. Despite the company’s privately held status, the Wall Street Journal would be remiss not to cover the company’s goings on.
To get a massive story the size of the one April 9, 2015 in the venerable Wall Street Journal about, ahem, veggie balls is a bit off.
IKEA got lucky. Amidst the entire world blowing up in global crises, it was such a slow news day that Wall Street Journal editors decided to publish a curve ball.
So, let me dissect this a bit further beyond the four-color image of what looks to be dried up balls with smushy peas on a plate.
‘IKEA sold more than 1 billion meatballs last year, now it wants to create a non-meat ball’
That’s the subhead in the Wall Street Journal article. Now, I’m going to read the article for the first time to see if there’s any other impressive news in this piece — stand by.
Why Veggie Balls Are News
OK, I’m back.
It may have been a slow news day at the Wall Street Journal or the facts used to pitch the story pushed the editor over into the yes column. Here’s why IKEA’s new veggie balls are news:
- IKEA Groups’ food division had about $1.5 billion in sales last year, growing about 8 percent last year.
- Veggie balls are being rolled out worldwide and that’s good for the new India market where many are vegetarian.
- Focus groups in China, U.S. and U.K. tested the balls.
- There’s a rapidly growing veg-head market valued at $973 million in the U.K. alone.
- The company is targeting about $48.7 billion in annual revenue by 2020, nearly double that of 2014.
So…with all those global #RockHot stats, who wouldn’t want to take up 2/3 above-the-fold with a veggie ball IKEA story?
What Publicity Hooks Make Media Bite On Veggie Balls?
Coming from an old purist publicist and media relations pro, here are my tips for your story to make national media bite on veggie balls:
1. Reach — The story must be national or global and touch as many audiences as possible (natural disasters, war, Apple watch, what the Pope says, etc.)
2. Size and profit — is your company a behemoth the likes of IKEA? Is it publicly traded NOT the likes of IKEA?
3. Trends — what trend (organic and vegan foods) can you tap into with global significance?
4. Consumers — tell your story from a consumer perspective; make them available to inform your story
5. Futures — what is the impact you see looking ahead? Will this product or service impact profits and can you forecast that?
6. Track record — do you have a history of putting out solid news with positive affect on the bottom line? Are you successful?
7. Integrity (or lack thereof) — If your company, C-suite and stakeholders are dishonest, you’ll get a story whether you want one or not.
Hmm, maybe media relations isn’t a (vegan) cake walk after all?