If you want to improve your company’s public image or promote a new product, gaining media coverage is an effective way to do it.
Although it may seem easy to get press coverage by simply sending pitches, it is actually a lot of work to be successful. Good media publicity comes from careful planning and hard work.
Although there are five times as many public relations professionals as there are journalists, you still need a plan to get your company’s name in the news. Try following these steps to develop a plan that will help you get the coverage you want.
Earned media vs paid media
Earned, owned, and paid media are all marketing tactics that achieve growth organically, through advertisement, or through direct payment, respectively.
Although paid media can be beneficial in increasing traffic to your site, it is not always as reliable or effective.
Forty percent of Americans use ad blockers. Therefore, not everyone will see advertisements. In addition, 92 percent of customers say they trust earned media more than advertising.
Paid media can bring traffic to your website, but if you haven’t established trust with your target market, you won’t be successful in converting them. Before customers are willing to spend money, they want to be sure that they can trust the brand.
Media coverage can help build trust with your target market. Others’ opinions are more important than what you say about yourself. Therefore, a well-balanced marketing strategy should include all types of media.
What are the benefits of earned media?
- Builds awareness – Earned media allows you to reach more of your target audience. Winning earned media across different media outlets opens you up to new customers by getting more eyes on your product or service.
- Heightens your credibility – Press coverage is invaluable while you’re trying to build your social proof. By producing thought leader articles for publications read by your audience, you demonstrate your industry knowledge and build credibility.
- Increases trust – Consumers like to buy from brands they trust. 92% of consumers trust earned media, while only half trust paid ads. Therefore, it’s clear that positive media coverage is an effective way for your business to build trust with your target market.
- Boosts your SEO – Earned media will have a positive effect on SEO if you go after the right type of press coverage. Winning press coverage on industry-relevant sites that have good domain authority scores helps you rise up Google’s rankings.
- Increases your leads and sales – The positive attributes of earned media all lead towards business success. Through increased visibility, credibility, and a clearer identity, you’ll no doubt experience an increase in leads and, ultimately, sales.
How to get media coverage for your business
Start with your story
Your personal story should complement your startup story to make your company more relatable and increase its newsworthiness. Go beyond recounting why you decided to start the business; make a case for why your company is necessary. Describe the problem you’re solving or how you’re making a difference.
Identify the most relevant journalists
The media coverage you receive should be related to your business. It is a waste of time and resources to get media coverage that is not aimed at your target audience.
Start with the publications that you are already aware of that report on your industry. This will give you a good starting point for your research. From there, you can branch out and explore other sources that you may not be as familiar with.
To beat your competitors, find out what media outlets they’ve been featured in and follow suit. Google News and Moz are great tools for this.
Similarweb can help you find online publications that are related to the ones you found in the previous two steps.
Once you’ve got your list of publications, you then want to identify the most relevant journalists at these publications:
Look for journalists that have reported on stories related to the keywords selected that describe the business or industry. Make a note of their name and contact information.
You can finish up your search by using the tools hey.press and Anewstip. These tools allow you to search for journalists using keywords, so use the same keywords that you used in the previous step. Make a note of all of the relevant journalists that you find.
Setup media monitoring
You keep track of what is being said about your brand, your competitors, and your industry to stay up-to-date.
There are two main aspects to media monitoring: deciding what you want to monitor, and using the right tools. The first step is figuring out what topics and keywords you want to keep track of. Once you have a good idea of that, you can start using media monitoring tools to track mentions of those topics and keywords across the web.
Define your PR tactics for winning press coverage
Here are some of the said tactics you can use to win media coverage:
A “guest article” is an article you write that is published on someone else’s website, under your own name. It’s a common earned-media tactic that can help increase your credibility, exposure, and SEO.
An appearance on an industry-relevant podcast is a great way to showcase your business’s human side. It’s also the ideal platform to flex your industry knowledge and establish yourself as a thought leader.
If a review is positive, it will focus on the specifications and benefits of your product or service.
Newsjacking refers to the act of piggybacking off of a news story in order to gain exposure for one’s own brand. This can be done by offering a new perspective or counter-argument to the story, and then reaching out to publications in order to get your thoughts featured. This is a great way to build up your brand’s exposure and trustworthiness.
Interviews are a lot like podcasts in that they help you show your human side and reveal how much you know about your industry. If you or your company have an interesting backstory, interviews are a great way to share that with people.
Establish goals – reasonable ones
It’s important to focus on setting goals that are practical and will help you reach your larger objectives, rather than simply focusing on goals that may make you look good. Be specific when setting your goals, and make sure they are aligned with the big picture. For example, rather than setting a goal to “become famous,” set a goal to “increase brand awareness by targeting well-known publications,” or “alert potential customers to a new product by seeking coverage in niche publications that our target market frequents.”
If you have specific and achievable goals for your company, it will be easier to tell if you are making progress and when you need to change your tactics. Find media outlets that you want to cover your company, and choose those that will help you achieve your publicity objectives.
Build rapport with journalists BEFORE you need them
Before you start pitching to journalists, it’s important to establish a personal connection with them. 64% of writers think that it’s important to have a personal connection before pitching. Ideally, you should start connecting with journalists long before you need them, at least 2 months before pitching.
The most successful media outreach involves developing strong relationships with the writers you want to pitch. Your best chance of getting coverage will come from having a good relationship with the writers in question. If you know them, it will be easier to pitch them news that they are actually interested in. And since they know you, they will be more likely to read your pitch.
Start Connecting With Journalists:
- Follow them on Twitter – Most journalists can be found on Twitter; almost 60 percent have a Twitter account.
- Connect locally – If a journalist is local, it’s important to connect in person. On a local level, attend events, conferences, or trade shows to get some face time.
- Use HARO – Journalists are always after sources for their stories. With this in mind, source request sites like HARO (help a reporter out) have become everyday practices for journalists. If you’re accepted as a source for a news story, it’s considered a classic PR ‘win-win’. Not only have you formed a new relationship within the media, but you’ve also won some press coverage!
Pitching to journalists
Think about what headline your customer would want to read and then craft a pitch around that.
But if you don’t capture the attention of the editor in your pitch, you’re sunk. Pitching your idea to an editor is the best way to ensure that your news, event, or guest article will be considered for coverage. Keep in mind that editors are constantly bombarded with requests, so you’ll need to make yours stand out. Be clear, concise, and passionate about your idea, and be sure to address any concerns the editor may have.
However, I’ve got some news for you:
Journalists are not interested in your business, startup, or product.
It can be difficult to accept, but the sooner you realize that the more seriously you’ll take the pitching process. Always keep in mind that journalists’ job is to tell stories, not to promote products.
If your news isn’t interesting enough to warrant media attention, try coming up with a better story angle or finding an influencer to help generate excitement. You could also adjust your pitch to better match the kinds of stories that the journalist typically covers. For example, if they’re mostly interested in stories about successful businesses, be sure to highlight that aspect of your story.
Pitching to journalists etiquette
You will annoy journalists if you send them something that is not relevant to them.
Do not try to sell a story idea to a media outlet that does not allow guest writers – this will upset the editor and it is also a waste of your time. To avoid this, read through the guidelines for contributors before pitching an idea.
Do not try to sell your story to more than one person at the same publication simultaneously, but it is okay to do this after a few weeks have gone by.
When reaching out to a public relations representative, it is acceptable to follow up once after the initial pitch. If you do not hear back after the follow-up, it is best to assume that your pitch has been rejected and move on. Rejection is a normal part of the pitching process, so don’t take it personally.
Close the deal
Don’t try to force a writer to cover you, just confirm that they are interested.
A “no” from a writer is not necessarily a sign that your story is not good. It could be that the timing was not right or that the story was not a good fit for that particular publication. If you receive a “no,” try to use it as an opportunity to learn what you can do differently next time. Always respond to the writer, thanking them for their consideration, and if the timing is right, consider asking if you could pitch to them again in the future.
When you receive a positive response to your pitch from a writer, make sure you are available to provide them with everything they need to tell your story. If you are launching a product, make sure your website is ready. If they ask for an interview, make sure you are available for one. Have your press assets prepared in advance, such as founder bios, photos or videos of the product in action, and your company story or media release. A few great pieces can be more impactful than a large volume of content, so focus on quality over quantity.
Bonus Stage: Following up on earned media wins
Great job if you were able to get some media coverage for your business.
Even though things are improving, it’s not time to stop working hard.
There are still a few things you can do while ‘running your victory lap’:
- Check they’ve included a backlink – Acquiring high-quality backlinks within your earned media has a positive effect on your SEO. Therefore, you need to double-check that any media wins include backlinks. Don’t take it as a slight if they haven’t! Simply send a follow-up email politely asking if they wouldn’t mind including one.
- Monitor the feedback – Take a look at the user comments on the publication’s website. If they upload it to their social media channels, take a look at what people are saying. This will give you an insight into how you’re being received, the areas you can improve, and possibly give you ideas for your next earned media win.
- Blitz your own channels – Regardless of whether they post it to social media, you post it on your social media profiles ASAP! Again, monitor your internal feedback to see what your target audience is saying.
It is essential to win the right type of press coverage as it can make or break a company. However, you cannot neglect the importance of exposure.
An earned media strategy that is well researched can also help improve your SEO and social proofing, both of which can help your business to grow.
Pretty great, right?
We hope that we have convinced you that earned media is a good way to get publicity for your business, and we are sure that it will help you get a new audience that worships your startup. You now know how to get press coverage, so there is nothing preventing you from getting free publicity for your business.
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