A successful media outreach campaign doesn’t start and end with the news you want to share about your company. The first thing to remember is that a good campaign stretches far beyond writing a press release and pitching to journalists. You need to make a consistent effort to connect with your audience. Build relationships long before and after you launch a new product or service.
What are the key steps for a rewarding media outreach campaign? Once you’ve perfected relationship building, you’re 90% of the way there. Here’s how to combine effective relationship building with a foolproof outreach strategy:
1. Define the goals for your media outreach campaign
The most important step in running a media outreach campaign is defining your goals. What do you want to achieve with this campaign?
Defining both the short- and long-term goals which you want your campaign to meet will help keep you focused. This step will also help you evaluate your success.
2. Develop a long-term strategy
A long-term strategy will strengthen your media outreach campaign by building a positive, lasting and relatable brand image. Consistent image-building will help you remain top-of-mind, therefore ensuring the effects of your media outreach are lasting.
A content calendar lays out a plan to create and share valuable content which will help you build and maintain a relationship with your audience. With a content calendar, you can develop long-term plans to improve your company’s image.
Owned and earned media are more cost-effective for a startup than paid media because they help build lasting relationships with the public based on trust. Ultimately, relationship-building is 90% more effective than paying for advertising.
You can use your content calendar for building a plan to position your company as a thought leader or trusted authority in your industry.
In your content calendar:
- Write blog posts related to your industry
- Ensure you’re active on social media
- Host a podcast where you share insights from your industry
- Write editorial articles for a media outlet
- Host a webinar to educate your audience on your industry
- Partner with other organizations or experts to host a podcast/webinar
Developing a long-term strategy will position you top-of-mind as a trusted advisor in your field.
“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” – Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos
3. Hire an expert storyteller
Many entrepreneurs launch their startups thinking they can do it all. This makes sense since you want to save money as much as possible. But how much money will you save if you spend all your time running a media outreach campaign instead of growing your company?
While trying to do everything on your own is admirable, delegating will help you hit the bull’s eye with everything you do. Hiring a public relations expert will ensure you do media outreach right the first time around.
Some entrepreneurs opt to hire an in-house public relations expert. On the other hand, there are companies which prefer to turn to public relations agencies like Pressfarm. These agencies can offer you their expertise throughout your campaign, in effect giving you time to focus on your strengths.
4. Master your media outreach campaign story
A successful media outreach campaign depends on you telling the right story with the right tools while also reaching the right people. People who believe in the value of your story will be valuable brand ambassadors.
“If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” – Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks
How do you write a powerful story for a media outreach campaign? To begin with, you need to use these 3Ps of storytelling:
Give your company personality by highlighting the people behind the company, the people who came up with your new product or service. What inspired them? What problem are they solving? Including a character in your story will help your audience connect with your brand.
Are you just sharing cold, hard facts or are you sharing a story which you are emotionally invested in? If you’re excited about your story, then the people listening are more likely to believe it’s worth listening to.
What is your company’s reason for being? Why is the story you are telling the audience important? Why should your audience care about it?
It is important to incorporate the 3Ps into your storytelling. In addition, you should ensure your story is newsworthy enough to attract attention. What makes a story newsworthy?
- Timely news/news which is trending
- Significant news
- Local news which affects the readers
- An unusual story
- A story based on a celebrity or public figure
- A human interest story
- A story with conflict/controversy
- A story about luck
- Hard news (for example, talking about something which affects a large population rather than talking about the everyday life of a celebrity)
If your story has one of the above elements, then you can use it as a hook to reel the audience in. Capitalize on this news hook by making it one of the first things you mention rather than burying it in the middle of your story.
5. Invest in your online presence
When you share a good story, where will people go first to find out more about your company? Your social media platforms and your website. For this reason, it’s equally important to invest in your online presence.
When developing your website, make sure it reflects your brand story. If you’re running a tech company, then a poorly designed website will immediately lead site visitors to question your credibility.
Besides aesthetics, make sure your website is as functional as possible so that information is easy to find. Whether you’re building a website or writing blog posts, you need to make sure your content is SEO friendly so that you rank higher on Google. Test your website and keep updating it until you’re happy with all these elements.
Your social media
An active presence on social media will help your media outreach campaign in the long run. Every now and then, post information which is relevant to your industry and which your audience will find helpful. Comment on posts shared by other thought leaders in your field. Interact with your followers and respond to comments on your posts.
People who believe you care about them even when you don’t have a product to promote are more likely to listen when you do have a new product.
6. Profile your audience
Who are you trying to reach with this media outreach campaign? Where does your audience hang out? With this in mind, what is the best way to communicate with them?
Answering these questions will help you with the next step.
7. Choose your channel
Once you know who your target audience is, you can choose the channel you will use to launch your media outreach campaign. As a startup, you will want to focus on your owned media and earned media channels. As stated before, this is more effective in general because it builds trust with the public. Here are some examples of the channels you might want to rely on henceforth:
Owned media: press releases, blog posts, company websites, videos, podcasts, e-books, whitepapers and guides.
Earned media: backlinks, being featured in other articles/product roundups, press coverage, awards, reviews, interviews.
Let’s talk about the press release and how you can use it to get earned media.
Writing the press release
For a press release to be effective and attractive to journalists, it must:
- Be newsworthy – mention the hook in your first paragraph
- Be free of jargon
- Contain appropriate quotes from credible authorities
- Include the product specifications/description of the service
- Use clear, concise writing
- Be objective and factual
- Contain a brief company description in the boilerplate
Pitching your press release to journalists
The first and most crucial step in pitching to journalists is relationship building. So, how do you build a rewarding relationship with journalists who can help you?
- Build a media list. Do your research to find journalists who write stories about your industry. In some cases, you might want to pitch to journalists who write for a niche audience rather than those who write for a big media outlet. Your niche journalist is writing for people who care about your industry. These people are therefore more likely to buy your product or subscribe to your service.
- Reach out and connect with the journalists on other channels. Follow them on social media, and comment on the content they share once in a while. Read their blogs and find out what their hobbies are. This will help you understand who your journalist is as a person and how to connect with them later on.
- Be clear. Share a consistent and clear message free of jargon.
- Be prepared. Have your press release ready for distribution in case the journalist asks for it. Even better, include a link to the press release in your email pitch. Make sure you have someone who is ready for interviews, in case a journalist requests an interview. The easier you can make a journalist’s job, the higher your chances of being featured.
- Send personalized pitches. Greet each journalist by name, talk about a recent story they wrote or even something they posted on social media.
- Be professional. Follow up on your initial pitch with two additional emails but don’t be insistent if you don’t receive a reply. If a journalist rejects your pitch, ask how you can tailor stories to better align with their interests in the future.
- Make covering your startup valuable. Many journalists are paid based on the number of views their articles get. If a journalist supports you by writing about your company, support them by sharing their articles.
8. Ensure sustained media engagement
As mentioned before, when running a media outreach campaign, sustained efforts to engage with the public before and after the campaign are necessary for success. This sustained media engagement can be in the form of:
- Commentary on news relevant to your industry
- Opinion pieces
- Long-term relationships with journalists
Maintaining a relationship with journalists is key, especially when you don’t need them to write a story about you. However, you don’t want to overload them with many small stories about your company. Instead, interact with them here and there, by commenting consistently on the stories they publish. Then, when you’re ready with your big story, pitch it to them.
9. Evaluate the outcome of your media outreach campaign
Once you’ve run your media outreach campaign for a predetermined time, you need to evaluate the results. Did you meet all the goals you laid out before you started?
You can evaluate your campaign using 6 factors:
i). Media mentions
How many mentions did your story earn? You can carry out media monitoring to measure this. Some helpful tools for this are Google Alerts and Twitter Lists.
ii). Website visitors
Has your website traffic gone up since you started telling your story?
iii). Message resonance
Were your key messages repeated accurately in media coverage?
iv). Share of voice
What percentage of the stories being told in your industry is about your brand?
v). Coverage quality
Did your story appear in publications or outlets which align with your company?
vi). Your bottom line
Did your profits go up after your media outreach campaign?
Many startups make the mistake of assuming a media outreach has a beginning and an end. As a result, they end up spending tons of time and money on outreach with minimal results. On the contrary, as we have seen, building relationships and trust is an ongoing effort which never ends. Now that you know what goes into relationship building, your media outreach campaign is more likely to be successful.
Would you prefer to skip all this and hire a team of public relations experts to do the hard work instead? To get personalized help with running your media outreach campaign, check out our packages and contact our PR team.