Getting companies in the media spotlight is my professional passion. The power of publicity is simply unmatched when it comes to building a brand, driving sales, and raising a company’s national profile. From glossy national magazine features to broadcast interviews and online stories, editorial coverage is valuable beyond measure.
But not every business “gets” PR and not every business is ready to engage a firm to help them achieve results. The truth is, getting media coverage for a business is no easy task. But there are a few tricks of the trade that make it a bit easier.
If you’re considering giving PR a go, here are five key questions and answers that will get you off on the road to media success:
1. How do you get the media to respond?
Ask yourself, what about my business is media worthy and why should people care? Once you answer that, you should have the makings for a good media pitch. Make sure you are broadening your story to make it relevant and interesting to others but keep in mind one pitch doesn’t fit all. That means you have to craft your pitch to correlate to the reporter’s beat. An angle for a business reporter should be completely different than the one for a parenting editor.
Just as important is keeping your pitch short. Reporters are inundated with requests for coverage so keeping your pitch succinct with no more than two short paragraphs will improve the chances of it being read and considered for publication. Keep it simple, don’t tell your whole story – just get them interested!
2. The breakdown: Press Release vs. a Pitch — Which is the better approach?
Press releases should be created for important announcements, such as the launch of a business, a major partnership agreement or other significant business and financial milestones. A pitch is a less formal form of communication to the media that offers up a story idea tailored to a media target for possible editorial coverage.
Each has their place but it should be noted that reporters, producers, and editors typically respond more favorably to pitches, especially when they are narrowly personalized to fit their specific editorial needs. Press releases can be an important tool to utilize with the press but should be reserved for critical announcements.
3. You have a particular media outlet that would be a perfect fit for your business. Now what?
Now more than ever, social media is the gateway to connecting with media’s decision makers. Many producers, editors and reporters are encouraging businesses to pitch them via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Thanks to Google, a quick search can help you find contacts along with their social media pages.
Also, to increase your chances of publicity success, be a consumer of news. Become better familiar with the outlets you want to be featured in. Magazines and other publications typically print a list of editorial contacts and their email addresses in the front section of their issues or the contact page of their website. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call your local TV station or newspaper. Give them a brief overview of your story and find out who would be the best contact for you to reach out to. It takes a little leg work but the effort can prove fruitful if you are able to successfully connect with the right person.
4. When should I pitch the media?
Timing can make a difference in successfully generating media coverage. You’re ready for PR when you’re ready for the world to know what you’re doing. If you are a manufacturer, you should have a product to show/share (or at least photos) and your product should be available to the public in the not too distant future.
Keep in mind editorial deadlines. Magazines are working on issues three to six months in advance while newspapers and TV shows usually take a few weeks to feature stories. For quicker turnaround, websites often post stories within hours. Arming yourself with this information is essential to strategizing your pitching launch.
Other timing factors to consider include if you have a seasonal product that should be pitched certain times of the year or if your product is new or has already been on the market for years.
5. What’s another good secret to landing coverage?
Offer up content! If you’re an expert or author, you naturally can provide expertise which can be valuable to various media outlets. Online outlets in particular love to feature bylined articles or top tips for their readers. If you’re willing to put this together, you become a resource for the press. That content can link back to your company’s website or product for added publicity.
If you’re not an author or specific expert, you still can take advantage of this tactic. Think about what you know as an entrepreneur or inventor. Perhaps you have tips on taking an idea to market or landing financing or you’ve learned a few secrets along the way about the value of trade shows or how to create a compelling website. In today’s media world, content is king!