It is no secret that getting media coverage is an excellent way for businesses to build brand awareness, increase credibility, and boost sales. However, in order to get your company on the news, you need to grab the media’s attention first. This can be a difficult task, given that the majority of top-tier publishers receive between 50 and 500 pitches per week in their inboxes, especially from small businesses that do not have a lot of PR experience. Of course, getting media attention is not impossible if you take the initiative and put some thought into your PR outreach plan. In order to get media coverage for your business, there are proactive and reactive ways to use digital PR to your advantage.
Digital PR has evolved from a novel new concept to an essential component of any modern marketing campaign. Digital PR can be a powerful tool in a landscape where brand features and links to a website still play a massive role in improving a company’s search visibility (i.e. The number of people who can find your business, products, and services via Google or Bing).
What is proactive PR?
Proactive PR includes steps like creating appealing content through published press releases, media pitches, and social media, sharing it with the public, and actively “chasing” journalists to cover a story.
In order to capture media attention with the above tactics, you need to be interesting, create some buzz around your business, and become “findable.” After all, journalists use Google Search and social media to gather information just like the rest of us. Many journalists admit to finding stories on social media or through other media outlets.
The best part is that with the right tools, you can quickly create engaging content and share it with the media. Press releases and media pitches used to be the domain of PR professionals, but that is no longer the case.
While there are lots of tools and guides to help you create an effective PR campaign for your business, agencies like Pressfarm can still step in to help you with some – or all of the elements of your campaign. The PR specialists, expert writers, and certified designers at Pressfarm can help with everything from content creation to brand SEO optimization and content distribution.
With a professional press release, some engaging guest posts, and a branded media kit, you can capture media attention when it matters most and generate hype for your brand among your target audience. Pressfarm distributes this content to the right media outlets, startup directories and professional networks so as to boost your online visibility and ensure you rank in relevant search results.
By building a custom media list, and giving you access to a media database of 1 million+ journalists, bloggers, and influencers, Pressfarm also connects you with the best storytellers and thought leaders to help share your news. With a custom PR campaign from Pressfarm, you can put your brand in the spotlight where it belongs.
To develop a proactive PR strategy, you must first determine where your audience is. Depending on your company’s size, you may not always find your audience in international publications like The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. If your company is on the smaller side, you might be better off focusing on trade publications or even local news outlets. Once you’ve identified the kind of media outlets that can help connect you with your target audience, you should compile a list of media outlets and reporters. Use this list to collect the contact information of all the media professionals who would be a good fit for your news, stories, and press releases.
After you’ve built your media list, it’s time to focus develop some story angles and news announcements that you can pitch to the people on that list. This requires you to conduct research, develop relationships, write pitches, reach out, follow up, and incorporate content marketing and social media outreach. Like any other aspect of a comprehensive digital marketing campaign, you need to put in some legwork and consistency to be effective with this.
What is reactive PR?
Reactive PR, on the other hand, focuses on meeting the needs of journalists. Replying to journalists’ requests on Help A Reporter Out (HARO) or replying to a journalist who is asking for information about your brand or requesting to set up an interview with your CEO are two ways of doing reactive PR.
Platforms like HARO aggregate journalists’ queries in one place. When brands respond with story pitches. These journalists can then build a database of sources for upcoming stories. If you offer a story that helps a journalist, then your brand could feature in this journalist’s story.
When responding to requests from journalists, it’s critical to respond selectively and as quickly as possible and ensure that you’re meeting all of the query’s requirements. Providing some background information about your company is also beneficial. You can include a link to your online press kit that contains all the pertinent information and images required by a reporter to get your company on the news.
There are quite a few scenarios that qualify as reactive PR. One example is when a reporter or media outlet directly approaches your company to be a source for a story they’re working on. Of course, if you run a company like Amazon or Google, this happens all the time. However, this is rare in a small business. A journalist looking for a source for a story they’re working on is another example of reactive PR.
Twitter is one place to look for reactive PR opportunities because journalists normally flock to the site in search of story sources. You can use search terms like #PRRequest or #JournoRequest to find what you’re looking for. If you spend enough time on Twitter and follow reporters with whom you want to work, you may notice opportunities pop up in your feed.
It’s wise to incorporate elements of both proactive and reactive PR into your public relations strategy. If you want to do your own reactive PR, HARO could be useful. However, this platform is only effective if you have the time to go skim the list of requests every day and respond to relevant requests for stories in a timely manner
Tips for getting media coverage
Now that we have looked at both approaches to PR let us talk about how you can get a bit more creative when trying to gain media coverage.
1) Build rapport with media professionals in advance
Most people contact journalists solely to have an article written about their company, which means that the journalist may have never heard of you before you contact them. On the other hand, if you take time to build a long-term relationship with a few journalists in advance, they will be more likely to cover your stories because you’ve proven that you value them before you needed them. If you’ve built a rapport with a journalist, they may even come to you and offer to get you on the news before you ask. It seems like a small thing to do, but once you build relationships with media professionals, your media outreach will be more effective.
2) Pitch journalists rather than publications
When it comes to gaining media attention, most businesses immediately target prominent publications. While this might work on some occasions, regardless of how great your pitch was, sending it to the generic email address for a specific publication isn’t effective. If you do this, your pitch could easily get lost in the mass of emails that media outlets receive every day. Starting with less popular media outlets and then finding relevant journalists who work for these outlets and tailoring the pitch to them is a more effective way to get a positive response (or any response at all).
3) Target freelance reporters
You should seek out specific freelance reporters who cover topics or industries that are relevant to you. By concentrating on one freelancer, you can potentially receive a variety of media placements instead of just one placement. Furthermore, freelancers are highly motivated to have their stories picked up. It should be easier for you to get your products or services featured in the news.
4) Personalize the media pitch
While there are many suggestions on the internet for formatting media pitches, there’s a good chance that your competitors have read them and will use the same format. As a result, it may be preferable to personalize both the content and the format to make it stand out more while still adhering to the necessary formatting guidelines. For a higher open rate, you should personalize the subject line in addition to the main body of the email.
5) Digitize press releases
Digitizing press releases is a great way to get media attention. When it comes to press releases, too many companies still have a print mindset. They’re so pleased with their announcement that they believe the story is too compelling to ignore. Digitizing your press release makes it more user-friendly as it gives a journalist more ways to read the release.
6) Leverage Twitter
Many reporters use social media, particularly Twitter, to keep up with industry news. You should take advantage of this by ensuring that you post anything newsworthy on your Twitter accounts. You never know who might be scrolling through your feed and decide to commission an article about your company.
Furthermore, it is beneficial to follow reporters and publications in which you wish to be featured to get a better sense of their style. It will be much easier to get press coverage once you understand what media professionals are looking for.
7) Provide background information and visuals
You should make it as easy as possible for reporters when pitching the media by providing visuals (infographics, images, video, b-roll) and any other relevant press materials to back up your pitch. This will make writing an article about your company easier for the reporter.
You must also remember that reporters work quickly, on tight deadlines, and are extremely busy. As a result, the easier you make it for them to cover the story, the more likely they are to want to work with you again in the future.
8) Offer product samples
Journalists are not permitted to accept gifts from potential sources, but they can accept free product samples in exchange for reviews. Instead of pitching you and your story to reporters with no supporting material, you should offer them a free sample of your product in exchange for an honest review. Everyone loves free stuff, so this will entice reporters and bloggers to write a business-related article for their websites. This is especially true for micro-influencers and smaller blogs.
9) Piggyback on something else that is getting publicity
When you aren’t doing anything newsworthy at the moment, the best way to get media attention is to piggyback on something else that is getting attention.
Sponsoring a community event or team or participating in a high-profile initiative such as zero waste or employee-sponsored community volunteering can strengthen your online presence. Likewise, supporting some other community initiative will put you on a journalist’s radar.
10) Maximize on media attention
You will almost certainly have the opportunity to receive free media coverage at some point during your business operations. You should then make the most of this publicity to attract the attention of other media outlets.
If your company’s story is compelling enough, more media outlets will want to cover it (this is essentially one of the ways hype is created). If you do an excellent job with the few free offers, you may find that more journalists approach you to interview you about more of your stories. Of course, this works only if you feature in a valuable story, so don’t expect just anything to blow up.
The best way to get business media coverage is to use a combination of proactive and reactive tactics. Nevertheless, it’s important not to put too much emphasis on one method over another. Rather, make an effort to establish a presence and build relationships on all fronts. Building media relationships can benefit your company in the long run and it’s a big part of how you make a name for yourself.