Finding case studies for journalists is an ever evolving process.
Before social media, reporters would use their physical contacts book – a book filled with phone numbers and details of people who could help with their story.
But it’s all changed thanks to platforms like Facebook and Twitter where writers are able to find case studies and experts at the touch of a button.
An expert on this process is freelance feature writer Jill Foster, who began her career at Cosmopolitan before moving to the features desk of The Daily Mirror working for notorious editor Piers Morgan.
Since then, she’s worked for Femail at the Daily Mail before going freelance 12 years ago and moving to Yorkshire, where she lives with her husband and twin daughters.
Jill is the owner of FeatureMe! UK, a Facebook group which helps connect people who are looking to appear in the media with journalists.
In this podcast, Jill shares everything you need to know on how the group works and how pet businesses can benefit from being part of it.
You can listen in on the player link below or read as a blog post.
What is FeatureMe! UK?
Jill explains: “It’s a free Facebook group to give people the chance to appear in stories in newspapers and magazines. The group was set up in 2012 and now has 16,000 members.
“Journalists post media requests, and they range from anything from people who have taken to flying in private jets, to serious real life stories about health or love or loss.
“Animals are a huge part of our lives so we often have requests about pets, as well as stories about fashion, health and style.”
Why did you set up the FeatureMe! group?
Jill was inspired to set up FeatureMe! after chatting about how to best utilise social media with her colleague and FeatureMe! co-founder, Sadie Nicholas.
She said: “Before Facebook, finding case studies was a case of calling up people asking if they knew anyone who could help with a story and trying to make the net as wide as possible.
“With the evolution of social media, finding people became easy – so that’s how Feature Me was born.
“The group has 16,000 people in it and there’s also a facility that allows those who are in the group to share, so your case study net can be cast really wide.”
Who can post in the FeatureMe! group?
Jill is protective over her community and posts are only permitted from a trusted group of journalists who will ensure that case studies are treated well.
She explained: “We put five to six posts out a day from a trusted group of journalists.
“We like journalists who are courteous who will give things like read backs and talk the case study through the process.
“It’s important that the case study feels confident that their story will be treated sensitively and they will be kept informed of what is happening.
“So we only allow people to post opportunities who will do this.”
What are the other benefits of FeatureMe!
One of the positives of setting up the group is the supportive community it has become, says Jill.
“We’ve created a community with members as they’re allowed to comment and share personal experiences,” she explained.
“We’ve found that people connect and some friendships have formed because of that which has been lovely.
“We welcome anyone, as long as they’re based in the UK because we deal with UK publications and broadcast.
“If you’re not confident about commenting, just watch and look at the media requests and when you feel ready to respond you can.”
What kind of requests are shared in the FeatureMe! group?
Jill explains: “The media requests can be a sensitive issue or something really light hearted such as, ‘Do you have a nice summer house?’
“When it comes to animals, we’ve had requests such as, ‘Did you have to get rid of your horse because you lost your job?’ and requests for owners who have luxurious dog carriers.
“We had one feature about how dogs help owners through the menopause and this came from a head of department at Daily Mail who said ‘let’s find women whose dogs have helped them through the menopause’ because they liked the headline ‘Meno-paws’.
“A celebrity angle is already a good start, for example, Ed Sheeran recently showed his new pedigree cat on social media and we had to do a feature on these types of cats.
“We’ve also covered things like people who have brought dogs home from holidays and spent a fortune bringing them.”
As well as real life stories, the group also features requests for products for gift guides.
Jill added: “I think you’re on to a winner if you have a pet business because there are lots of requests.
“It’s about spotting the angle at the time – you have to do it there and then because if you don’t someone else will get there before you.”
Will securing coverage from FeatureMe! mean you get a link to your business?
Some coverage will link back to your business, like case study Louise Humphrey who featured in the story about dogs being the secret weapon for the Meno-paws in the Daily Mail and her pilates business, Studio 44 was mentioned.
But links are never guaranteed, more a welcome bonus.
You can be your own PR
It’s become more accessible for pet businesses to be their own PR because of Facebook groups like FeatureMe!.
Jill said: “Follow journalists who write the kind of stories you want to be in and follow the people they follow on Twitter. Look for the things they are asking on things like #journorequest.
“There are so many opportunities if you know where to look.”
Final word of advice – be on your best behaviour!
In eight years, Feature Me has only had to exclude two dozen users – which isn’t bad to say they have 16,000 members.
Although the group encourages healthy debates, there are some rules when it comes to being polite to others.
Jill added: “Don’t be rude or use bad language. We encourage debate but as soon as it’s personal that’s when we shut it down – I never mind opinions, but we draw the line when it gets personal.
“We just ask people to keep it polite, keep it friendly, behave how you would at a nice party.”
If you’d like to join Feature Me, you can do so here: FeatureMe UK on Facebook
You can follow Feature Me on Twitter here: FeatureMe on Twitter
Follow Jill on Twitter: Jill Foster on Twitter
Visit Jill’s website: www.jillfoster.co.uk
If the chat with Jill has got you thinking about becoming your own PR, I’m launching a FREE PR challenge next week and you can learn all you need to know in this blog and podcast – What’s involved in the PR Challenge.
Starting on September 14th 2020, I’ll sharing daily tips, activities and insight into securing media coverage and you can reserve your place by clicking here.