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Seeing your brand featured in a top-tier media outlet may seem like an unreachable goal. Even if you believe strongly in your brand (and I hope that you do), mapping out and navigating the journey from obscurity to notability will most likely seem overwhelming when you consider the myriad of other tasks on your to-do list. But before you write it off, let me encourage you with a few things that I have learned from leading a successful PR firm.
Firstly, getting great media coverage for your brand often begins with getting not-so-great media coverage for it. In other words, be ready to start small. At our firm, we like to say that you need to crawl before you walk, and walk before you run — and crawling is something that you definitely have time to do. Don’t let the long road to top-tier coverage keep you from starting. Take some small steps and allow the momentum to build.
Secondly, appreciate that journalists are busy people. The least busy are receiving as many as 10 pitches a day, often from sources whom they know well. The busiest are receiving as many as 100 pitches a day. Their job involves sifting through those pitches as well as writing articles. To stand out, you need to do more than issue a standard press release. If you want to cut through the noise, you will need to develop an understanding of what it is about your brand that is newsworthy, and focus your efforts on sharing that information.
Finally, understand that the media is often looking for a knowledgeable voice rather than a newsworthy brand. Positioning yourself as an expert in your field or a business leader who has a unique perspective on a trending topic can secure media coverage for you and, consequently, for your brand. Developing a newsworthy brand should always be a top business goal, but that will limit your media coverage to stories about your brand. Growing a reputation as a reliable and authoritative commentator in your field is just as valuable for promoting your brand.
With those points as a foundation for approaching journalists, here are five ways you can get media coverage for your brand:
1. Keep up with the news that resonates in your industry
What topics are making headlines in your industry? What brands are disruptive and why? What events are shaking things up, and how are businesses responding? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you’re going to have a difficult time developing a pitch that will get noticed. Tracking with the latest stories will help you to understand how to break into the conversation.
To keep up with the news, start with finding the hashtags that define your industry. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram, then follow the journalists who are posting to those hashtags. When you see news breaking or discussions happening, pay attention to what attracts attention.
2. Pitch to a person, not a publication
As you are tracking the news via social media and news sites, get to know the key reporters who cover your industry. Read what they write. Make comments on it. Thank them for what they do. These are good steps toward building a relationship with the press, which gives your pitches a much better chance of getting through.
Again, media professionals are busy people. It makes their job easier when they can engage with a known and trusted source. Until you have a relationship with a credible reporter or two, you are just pitching to publications. Next-level pitching happens when you are connecting with a person rather than a stranger.
3. Be ready to go live
You never know when your pitch will be accepted, so be ready when it happens. If you are offering to share on a topic, make sure you know the topic well, and that you are ready to make a memorable presentation on it. Give it some production value, even if it is just a paragraph or two.
Additionally, practice what you plan to say. Then, practice it again. Going unscripted might work once or twice, but it does not make for a solid media strategy. Before you send out a pitch, make sure you are ready to deliver the expertise that you are offering, to present it with authority and to make it succinct. Journalists don’t have time to listen to someone ramble. Deliver like a pro, and you will become known as a reliable and valuable source.
4. Have a great business story
While media sources are often busy reporting the news, sometimes there’s no news. To fill the gaps in times like that, sources are looking for a good story. If your brand has a great business story and you have made them aware of it, you could be the feature story that day. If your brand does not have a great business story, figure out how to make the next chapter of your story great, and move in that direction.
5. Use wins to build momentum
Despite needing to crawl before you walk, you’ll eventually want to walk, and then run. Using your wins to build momentum is a great way to move from crawling to running.
When you get quoted in a story, share it everywhere. Put it on your website. Especially make sure that the industry connections you have been making on social media know about it. Every little win adds to your credibility. The more credible you become, the easier it will be to get media coverage.