Are we so distracted by social media that we have forgotten about “the media” in our marketing efforts?
Ranking on the web helps grow awareness and attracts eventual sales. Great services and products supply solutions for consumers, but getting free attention in a national newspaper, a magazine and mass media can be a very effective marketing tactic.
Press outreach and mass media attention is often a problem for many businesses.
Below, you’ll find a long list of solutions to help you establish, improve, and solidify your outreach capabilities.
The pursuit of sales will never cease, but ensure media attention is never a problem. Here are some tips for getting attention in mass media.
- Be the purple cow. If you’re not different, there’s no reason for editors and publications to cover you.
- National coverage is great but hard to get. Align a story with local or regional news, events, or concerns. Besides, it’s not uncommon for stories from small towns to spread online and on the news.
- Identify quirky components of your company (logo), CEO (hobby), or company culture (You don’t work on Fridays). People will have to come by and look just to see if it’s real!
- Maintain an excel sheet of sites pitched and reporter contact information. Keep notes and dates (so you don’t re-pitch!)
- Find reporters on Twitter and use AllMyTweets to identify topics they like, dislike, etc. Stalking might be illegal, but online snooping is just good marketing.
- Research prior works of individual reporters, not just topics reported.
- Use this tool to find any person’s email. Once you have it, don’t go crazy and bombard them with requests. Be cordial, unless you want to be ignored.
- Read reporters’ articles, blogs, and tweets. Mention their work and create a greater sense of context and logic regarding the reason for initial contact. Make them feel like you chose them, and only them, for your story.
- Do not use reporters’ personal emails unless indicated it is preferred.
- Comment on reporters’ posts and personal blogs. They might just remember you when they see your pitch.
- Use visual platforms like Pinterest and Google Plus to find information related to hobbies, trips, pets, favorite locations, etc.
- Hire a content writer or PR person to write your outreach emails. Emotional intelligence is a skill set!
- As with writing great post titles, spend time on the subject line of the email. You want them to be excited to open it. If you sell a good title, then the rest is easy.
- Don’t include attachments; cut and paste material in the email itself.
- Set Google Alerts for key terms, so you can stay informed about stories the reporters think are important. Or, you could obsessively check Google everyday for changes, whichever you think is easier.
- Set Alerts for names of editors and reporters too to see what they’re writing about (Share their work too!)
- Spend time on your email signature; editors and reporters want information coming from authority sources.
- Be ready for phone contact; some rather ask directly than email back and forth. Indicate you are available for phone contact.
- Be humble and genuine; admit what you don’t know rather than fake it. Reporters keep ongoing contact lists, but if you waste their time, you’ll never get a chance with them (or their outlet) again.
- You’re supplying information but editors are well aware of the benefit of news coverage. Thank them for their time and for (even) considering your input.
- Send a follow-up thanks. Use a funny graphic of something they will appreciate (since you used AllMyTweets, Google Plus, Pinterest, etc, to see what they like) to be ‘purple.’
- Don’t play politician and satisfy all sides of a story. Have a strong and passionate opinion – stick to it. Remember, you’re unapologetically purple, not sad you’re neither red or blue.
- It’s not a one-night stand. Reporters contact the same people. (How many times has Danny Sullivan contributed to major stories?)
- DO NOT USE TEMPLATES. Work with your outreach team to create a successful email formula, but ensure the email to each editor/reporter is unique. Reporters sniff-out templates.
- Interested reporters may do homework on you. Update your ‘about’ page and social media profiles to reflect the expertise they’re looking for – But remember to be genuine!
- Provide multiple opportunities for contact – include work email, cell phone, business phone, Skype, Twitter handle, etc. Be as open as possible, you never know how they’ll try to contact you.
- To build social authority, take screenshots when people compliment posts, your company, or your personality, and insert on your ‘about’ page, business’ homepage, etc.
- Be active in forums and industry-specific question-and-answer platforms. It adds ‘tangible’ evidence regarding your expertise and helpful nature.
- Create Twitter lists of editors and reporters and stay informed of their interests regarding developing news and stories.
- Subscribe to HARO and Profnet, platforms where reporters actively seek help. They need help finding a story, and you just so happen to have a story to pitch. Coincidence?
- Don’t get creepy, liking reporters’ family pictures on Facebook or being too friendly on social platforms. Be personable but keep professional. Remember, you want to be on their good side, not force them to look over their shoulder.
- Use social media ads to ‘target’ media outlets by genre, key terms, etc. It helps reporters and editors grow aware of your company, contributions, expertise, etc.
- Peruse news sites, looking for broken links, awkward plug-ins, etc. Provide technical help or refer them to someone who can.
- Create an ongoing folder of stats. At times, reporters can’t use quotes or direct information, yet need stat graphics to supplement articles. (You’ll still get credit!)
- Conduct industry surveys, becoming a mini reporter. You’ll have more information to offer major publications and reporters.
- Getting one’s first major dose of coverage is like making your first million; it’s the hardest. Create a ‘Media’ section on your website, showing reporters you’ve ‘done this before.’
- Create a separate online page, featuring your resume, mentioning previous speaking engagements, awards, and so on.
- When used for a story or article, become a marketer for them. Help spread the news!
- Later, when writing internal posts or guest posts, link to the reporter’s story, building links to the site and story. The added marketing effort will be appreciated, plus they’ll appreciate the win-win scenario.
- Don’t tell Cutts, but guest blogging is a great way to show reporters you’re a ‘giver,’ offering insight on digital properties of others.
- Be a great assistant; maybe you can’t help with a particular story, but you may know a friend who can. Reporters will remember your help (and it’s likely your friend will think you’re swell too!)
- Regularly link to journalists’ stories in your businesses posts, maintaining indirect relationships and expressing interest in their craft.
- When appropriate, mention previous coverage from news sources in the initial email. As mentioned, reporters want ‘seasoned’ contributors.
- Handwrite a ‘thank you’ card and mail it to the reporter. In the ‘digital’ age, snail mail is ‘purple,’ and usually requires more time and effort. If they don’t like mail, then handwrite it anyway, scan it and email them. Again, just being purple.
- Mention the reporter’s ‘audience,’ and how your information will help deliver valuable news.
- Be unique but not off topic. Don’t use obscure or outlandish information to seem interesting. If it’s too far out there, you’ll appear strange rather than intriguing. You want to be a purple cow, not the alien coming to abduct livestock.
- Don’t sound like a press release that sucks. Some are so boring, with a ‘look how great we are’ sentiment. EVERY company wants press but not all know how to intrigue the masses.
- Be a giver and not (just) a taker.
- Have a professional writer edit emails, checking for grammatical errors and awkward phrases. Reporters are not English teachers, but they make a living reporting (often writing) the news. Expect them to notice your errors.
- Be who you say you are and do what you say you’ll do.
- Be more than words. PR firms are becoming one of the biggest sources of online videos, and news outlets pick them up in a snap. Not only that, but your video can be shown directly on national TV.
- Buddy up with local journalists through social media. It’s easier than ever to find and talk to journalists in your area. Just don’t be too pushy. Get on their radar, but don’t become a pest.
- Host an event, the press loves that. Whether it’s a speaking event, charity event or just a community outreach event, getting lots of other locals involved is a surefire way to get the press excited. Plus, events always boost your reputation, and make great photo and video opportunities.
- Learn from others. The Internet lets you look at other businesses and how they are getting media attention. Learn from them and emulate, but still remember to be yourself. Just find out how they are getting media attention and then do it your way.
- Remember the gatekeeper. Whenever you’re contacting a news outlet or journalist, remember that they won’t be the first to read your email, the gatekeeper is. If you can’t stand out to the gatekeeper, expect your email to be lost in the slush pile.
- Use your wins over and over and over, as long as they are relevant. Did you garner the biggest crowdfunding ever for your niche? Or, were you #1 or runner up in a big competition? Keep bringing that up. It gets the attention of media and consumers alike.
- Stop looking for relevant publications. Everyone wants to be featured in Huffpost, Entrepreneur and other big publications, but maybe your story or business really don’t fit there. Instead, look for relevant journalists who regularly cover businesses and stories like yours. It’s the best way to get their attention.
- Is your product boring? It’s OK to admit it, we’re not judging you. If your product doesn’t have that immediate “wow” factor, it’s fine, just find a way around it. Think of an amazing story or benefit that is connected to your business and approach media with that angle.
- Help the media out. Have images and other assets ready for them to see and use. Not only will it make their job easier, but it helps them visualize why they should cover you in the first place.
- Always remember human interest. This isn’t just about sales (though coverage almost always turns into sales anyway). Now is the time to think about people. Think about how you can connect to them and why they should care about you on a human level.
Getting media attention isn’t nearly as hard as you’re making it. First, you have to get over any shyness or worry that the media won’t like you. After that, it’s about understanding how the machine works and how to get your way into it. Find and butter up to local journalists, make your business or angle appealing and give them something worth writing about.
After that, it’s a simple job of following up with them every now and then to get more media attention. Just be yourself, make connections and soon you’ll be getting all the coverage you need.
Part two of this series is here.
Author Bio: Cam Secore has been an entrepreneur since first grade and doesn’t plan on ever getting a real job. His current venture is Power Moves where he compares popular tech gadgets and helps his readers find the best product based on their individual needs. If you’re looking for gadget suggestions or want to chat about marketing, reach out to him on Twitter.