Top Tips for Reaching Out to Media for Business Exposure
Figuring out ways to get cost effective attention for your business can be quite challenging for most small business owners. Perhaps one of your competitor’s is regularly featured on a local morning show. Maybe you wish you could get a feature interview in the free weekly paper in your town or a nearby one.
Whatever your goals for promotion, you’ll need to reach out to media to gain valuable, and often free, exposure for your business.
Build Your List
Your first step before reaching out to media is to build out your list and keep the contacts organized. Kseniya D. Melnikova, owner of MelK PR and Tech & Corporate Communications Specialist, uses tools such as Excel to keep track of those media people she’s contacted.
Melnikova said, “In addition to finding the right contacts at bigger outlets (like New York, Time, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, etc.), I strongly recommend finding the right trade publications. Smaller businesses and startups are more likely to receive coverage from them and are more likely to get engagement from key people in their industries. This is where the tools come in handy. Googling “trade publications” yields a list of publications sorted by industry. Another place to get a more comprehensive list of trades is through the WebWire industry list. It’s more comprehensive than google, but still lacks the full range of any given trade outlets.”
She also uses the Similar Web app to see what other media outlets might be available that she hadn’t considered. Include the name of the publication, the contact person, contact info, and when and what you contacted them about.
How do you reach out to those media outlets in the first place? Just sending a press release isn’t enough. It will get lost in the shuffle. Anthony Baldini, Account Executive for Sterling Communications, advises that you pitch a story and not your company.
Baldini shared, “Pitching a media outlet isn’t like pitching an investor. The best journalists are interested in telling stories, not simply announcing your new product. If you want to market, buy ad space. If you want someone to talk about the impact you’re making, develop a narrative.”
Another thing you should do is make your pitch specific to that media outlet. Take the time to read some of their other features and see what types of stories they are most attracted to. What can you contribute that is similar but unique?
Heather Logrippo of Expose Yourself Public Relations suggests that before you reach out to someone that you become familiar with their so, so when you do reach out you can mention a piece they’ve written before. After that, she suggests:
“First ask what projects they are currently working on, and see if you can offer help to them. Then, propose the topic and story you would like to cover and [explain] what is in it for their readers/viewers.”
Logrippo explains that while the process takes time, it is the combination of establishing a relationship and providing the source something of value that makes their job easier.
Help The Reporter Do His Job
A good way to reach out to media is to figure out what you have to offer to the media person. Mike Driehorst, Public Relations Strategist at Weaving Influence, explains that you have to help the reporter do his or her job.
“The service pro should write news releases and suggest story ideas to media that showcases their knowledge in detail, and show how it can help reporters’ audiences. Don’t tout your service or product or other more self-serving feature. Tout your knowledge. Act like you’re talking and trying to help your customers. By doing so, you demonstrate your skills and capabilities, which will reflect well on your company. Of course, the above is in addition to the basics of having someone else proof your news release, spell check, and other basics.”
Have you heard of newsjacking? It is exactly what it sounds like. It is looking at current topics and figuring out how something you have to share can apply to that concept. Bruce Mendelsohn of The Hired Pen thinks this is a great way to grab attention you might otherwise miss out on.
“BLUF (bottom line up front): Newsjacking works. The closer a service professional or small business can connect their specific expertise to broader issues in the media, the more likely they are to get quoted or featured–especially when they proactively reach out to specific reporters. Their most likely potential placements are in local and/or regional papers.
“For example: I have a client in this sector, Ascend Analytics, Inc., whom I’ve helped pitch and place a few articles. Most recently, our success has come through “newsjacking” the media’s focus on climate change in general and the Paris Accords specifically. I’ve pitched a few papers in Colorado (AAI’s HQ) to share stories that feature local/regional NUMBERS and DOLLARS regarding climate change and the Paris Accords. We’ve gotten some nibbles.”
Following up can mean the difference between getting exposure and not getting any exposure. Media people are busy. They have many emails and press releases cross their paths, and many have specific topics to work on with a very tight deadline. Anything you can do to capture their attention is a good thing.
Jenni Izzo, VP of Public Relations at Costa Communications Group (CCG), took a few minutes to share her thoughts on the importance of following up. . CCG is an integrated PR and marketing agency based in Winter Park, Florida with a national reach.
“Don’t be afraid to follow and engage with media contacts on social media. Some of the best media relationships I have were started over likes, retweets and funny GIFs,” said Izzo.
Even if you spend only 15 minutes each day reaching out to new contacts and pursuing media mentions, you’ll likely have at least some success. It is best to start with your local newspapers, blogs, and reporters and expand from there.
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