If you have no experience speaking with journalists or you’ve never gotten press before, the question of how to get your company published and get others to write about you? For even the most seemingly “boring” businesses, there are some basic strategies and tactics for getting major media coverage–regardless of your past marketing experience or budget.
If you want to get media coverage, you need to have something to say that others will want to hear. Start to think about ways in which your story is unique:
- What do you believe?
- Why did you start the business or create the product? Was there some personal, painful experience you went through that inspired you to take action to solve the problem?
- How is your product or service delivered that makes it stand out?
- What popular issues are people talking about today that relate to your business and how you run it? The economy? Healthcare? Income?
‘The advantages of getting press over other forms of marketing is powerful”
From an entrepreneur’s perspective what is press coverage? Why does everyone want it? It’s free advertising, that’s why, and more than that it’s someone else’s; with their own built up brand credibility talking about your business.
Here are the specific advantages of getting this free advertising via media coverage:
- Exposure – People who haven’t heard about your business will hear about you
- Increased recall – The more often a person hears about you, the more easily they can recall the name of your business in the future i.e. when talking with friends.
- Temporary boost in website traffic, searches, social media shares – Temporary because what’s news today is pushed off the “front page” tomorrow.
- Sales boost – Even if you get bad press, you can still see an increase in sales. I’ll talk more later about “bad” press…
- More press – Getting published in one place often leads to interest from other journalists and bloggers. I call this a the “media echo effect.”
- Boost in search rankings – If you’re published on one or more media websites with authority in the eyes of Google, your overall search rankings will increase.
- Miscellaneous opportunities – Others in business will often reach out to you with partnership or joint marketing offers after they read about you.
Before you begin establish a strategy by deciding on what outcome you want to receive from executing your PR campaign:
- Do you want to be able to list reputable 3rd party logos (e.g. The New York Times) on your website?
- Do you want to grow sales and awareness?
- Do you want to improve your traffic and search rankings?
Each of these goals requires a slightly different approach.
- If you just want the option to slap some “as seen in” logos on your website, you should go for just getting mentioned.
- For growing sales, you should seek to get a full write-up on your business.
- For improving traffic and search rankings guest blogging works well.
How do to get mentioned in an article
If you decide that getting mentioned will meet your PR marketing goals, the next question is, how do you do it?
How to get your company published starts by making a list of your target publications or venues. Your list might look something like this:
- Wall St. Journal
- Washington Times
- NY Times
- Venture Beat
- Fox Business News
The reason we use national outlets like these is are because it fits the profile of many mass market B2B service companies. Your company might be different though. The key is to aim for publications or blogs that are well known to your target customer.
How do you differentiate and pitch that to a journalist?
Remember, our strategy here is to get mentions, not to get a full write-up or anything like that. So that affects the tactical approach.
The easiest way is to begin by networking with bloggers and journalists.
The way that you do this is you take the list of target publications you listed in the step above (again, they should be relevant and/or respected by your target customer) and begin searching out articles, on Google and on the actual publication’s website.
Look for anything that is relevant to your business. What do I mean by relevant? Do a quick keyword brainstorm on words that are related to [your] business:
- Local business
- Local economy
- Industry tips
- Lower costs
The next step after that is to look up who the author of the article is that comes up in your search. Often, a writer’s email address will be directly on the publisher’s website, on the article, on past articles, or you can find it on his or her personal website. We recommend against contacting someone via Twitter or Facebook, because it is not as effective as email.
The final ingredient is the will to reach out to a journalist and make your case for why you can be a resource to them on an upcoming or future article. And yes, that’s the exact approach you need to take–it’s not about you when you reach out, it’s about helping them.
Here’s what a sample outreach email might look like:
My name is [name] and I’m emailing you because I recently enjoyed reading your article here on some innovative ways consumers can lower their electric bill in the winter months.
[Link to article — putting the link on it’s own dedicated line makes it easier to click on if they’re reading your message on a mobile phone]
Here’s one other tip that I think could work well in a future article or if you decide to update this: [value added tip that positions you as an authority]
I’ve been running a growing electrical business in CA for the last X years, in which we’ve helped Y hundred household consumers — I would love to serve as a resource to you for any future articles since my expertise is in:
Electrical, bill economics, and small / local business formation and development
My direct number is below or you can email me back anytime you want a fresh perspective from someone with direct experience.
[number / signature line]
You can tweak and reword that template to fit your business but in my experience sending short, personal, valued-added messages like that helps to position you as an authority. And since many journalists never receive any direct email responses to their articles, they appreciate the effort and will respond.
I recommend sending at least 3 of these types of messages at a time for good measure since some percentage will not yield a response.
In closing, some other easy ways to get press mentions are to join a networking group like the YEC (Young Entrepreneurs Council), your local chamber of commerce, or another established group of individuals from your industry.
Journalists frequently will reach out the leadership of these organizations, asking for referrals to people who can talk on a certain subject or answer a specific question.
Some companies try to blur the lines between the words “mention” and “featured” but if you’re going to be intellectually honest, being featured in an article is a much bigger deal because that usually means the focus of the article is you and your business.
Many of the same key factors used for getting mentioned also apply for getting featured:
- Niche Industry
- Create a new category, or in a relatively new category created by someone else (think Living Social in the “Group Deal” space which started by Groupon)
However, because the end-goal is completely different this affects the specific tactics you should use. The main difference is that in order for it to be justifiable for anyone to write-up a full article on you, you have to be “news” which means you have to be saying or doing something new.
The key takeaway from this story is, if you want to get a full featured write-up, the kind that gets you sales and awareness, do or say something new and unique, and then reach out journalists via their “least crowded” means of communication: Email, in-person or Video chat. I believe that pretty much anyone with something new and compelling to say can with absolutely zero name recognition or reputation can get incredible exposure following these basic steps.
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