There are so many “hooks” in life.
Hooks can be for fishing, for hanging artwork or coats or just simple tools in the garage. Hooks are used for snaring things, capturing stuff, and grabbing on to what it is you want now. Hooks serve such a multi-faceted function that the value of using a hook is universally accepted for so many uses.
Sometimes the idea of “being on the hook” is quite negative, meaning you may have been snared in a bad way, a circumstance perhaps involving money that puts you in a tough position.
But that’s another story altogether.
When it comes to public relations (PR), there is much to be said about using “the hook” – a term that clearly owes its origins to fishing as much as anything – to position you and your company or product with a wide range of audiences.
Think about it – when fishing you are trying to lure in the fish, but once you lure it in you have to snare the fish with a good hook.
Certainly, our role in public relations isn’t about tricking or fooling people. Being disingenuous or false will not likely help you or your company break into the newsfeed, at least not in the way you would like. And let’s face it: that’s what public relations is still about – helping businesses get noticed, whether in print, online or on the airwaves through television or radio.
So, what is a hook in writing?
Simply put it’s an idea, theme or topic that gets your press release noticed. The goal when sending out information to the local, regional or national media is have them “pick up” on the story. Whether it’s strictly a news item, say a business deal recently completed, or a “feature” item focused on a unique aspect of your business, you want to be noticed. PR helps position your brand, giving a sense of legitimacy for who you are and for bringing business to your company.
Unfortunately, not all business “news” items are strong enough to offer as a solid hook. For example, a company making a move to a new building can be released to the media as a hook about your firm but may not pique much interest. Now if you were moving into a 100-year-old historic site that you renovated while maintaining the historic nature of the facility, you probably have a hook.
Of course, even with a hook, there are few guarantees when it comes to getting noticed by the media. Here are a few suggestions that might help you bait and hook your news item to get attention.
Offer a new take on what’s going on in your community
Most of us are looking for what’s new and exciting, what’s different and fresh. If what you share in terms of news, or information is directly or indirectly applicable to current issues in your community, your industry or even your neighborhood, there are ways to make the connection. This goes to more than just your local area; it can even be broadened out to large spheres and trends. For example, climate awareness and reducing our impact on the planet is a big issue right now. Let’s say your company is moving into a new building. Kind of boring in terms of a hook. But what if your new facility is outfitted with what are known as “rain gardens” and water reuse technology? Now the hook is more than a location change – you are doing something significant to make an impact on the climate. In this case, the PR is less about the move and more about the commitment to a greener approach.
In a similar way, you can also hook with the idea of taking a new approach to something old. In this case, perhaps your new building already has these green systems, but you come along and decide to reinvent them and develop a new use through a community recycling program on your property. In this instance your hook is “reinventing” something already being done, a contribution that is new and different.
Finding a new hook isn’t as hard as it seems. Sometimes it simply requires you work with a firm like Logos Communications that can look at your story and brand and see it from a fresh angle. It can be frustrating – even so-called “new product” launches are often ignored until you can find a way to connect it to what is happening around the community and the world.
Tug on the emotional side of life
Playing on emotions can be helpful. For example, back to our building move. Let’s suggest you are in fact restoring and moving into a historic site. That’s a good hook to begin with, but what if that same building has a legacy in the community that can make an emotional connection? Maybe the site was the community’s first military veterans post, a proud legacy of the area’s involvement in World War I. If so, such an emotional link can be attractive to media looking for their own hook in how they might present your story.
Milestones as a hook
Finally, one of the simplest hooks in my mind is the milestone hook. Over the years it has become clear that the media makes lots of connections to stories surrounding important dates, moments, events and achievements.
Winning an award is okay as a milestone, but let’s face it: awards now come in so many shapes and sizes that they almost feel cliché. So, a better milestone might be winning the same award 20 years in a row.
Speaking of years, an excellent milestone for a company is an anniversary, either for the company or perhaps the founder herself. Media gravitates towards these anniversary milestones because it fulfills much of what was said above – the story is emotional because of the historic nature; it showcases a company that has survived and thrived; and it may even allow a fresh take on something old.
A hook works in many communications
Ultimately, keep in mind what a hook is when it comes to writing. Mainly we have focused on the PR hook, since that is one of our specialties. Don’t forget, though, that hooks have a place in all kinds of business communications – be it a memo that you want to receive attention, a letter to stockholders, a new strategic plan for the company or a letter of recommendation for one of your team members.
Hooks are everywhere in our world. Are you using them to your advantage? If not, now is a perfect time to reach out to Logos Communications.
Let us hook you up with the right words.