Remember this statement. In the nearby future, you will be looking back, thinking that asking us to write a paper for me was the best decision ever made in your entire life.
If your business is using online content to connect with new customers, you’re not alone.
Online marketing used to be a novel approach but now it’s increasingly common. Enter your company’s industry or sector in Google, and you will literally get millions of results, to say nothing about the thousands of posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media platforms. Even if your company posts great blog entries, images and video, there is no guarantee they will reach your potential customers. How do you get your content to stand out in a crowded online universe?
Gaining media coverage in popular blogs and media outlets is a powerful tool to cut through the noise, especially if your audience is within an older demographic. This group tends to consume and trust traditional media, such as TV, newspapers and magazines, more than younger demographics. Traditional media almost always, however, gets posted in social media to further increase its reach and prolong its longevity.
You can use this coverage in newsletters, websites and social media platforms. Media outlets linking to your website can also greatly boost its search engine optimization (SEO), meaning you move higher to the top of Google searches related to your business with more customers finding you.
You might think that only PR agencies and consultants can gain media coverage. If you are willing to do the work, however, you can attract your own media attention, and gain a strong following.
There are four basic steps to make it happen:
- Find media outlets with audiences matching your buyer personas
- Find reporters who cover topics related to your industry
- Develop interesting stories to pitch to media
- Connect with targeted media contacts
Find media outlets with audiences matching your buyer personas
A critical step is to determine your customers’ buyer personas, the in-depth, semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers. The closer the match between the demographics of your buyer personas and those of the media outlet’s audience, the more likely your message will reach your target market. These demographics could include age, sex, income, job title and where they live.
The easiest way to find a media outlet’s demographic information is to look at its media kit. These are often found in the advertising section of the website, and you might need to enter your email for them to send you a copy (it’s usually sent immediately). Media kits commonly list the demographics of their audience, often with very detailed info. If the demographics match your target market, it’s likely a good place to start.
Find reporters who cover topics related to your field
You will want to find reporters who have an interest in your field, sector or industry. Looking at a reporter’s past pieces will give you a good idea of their interests, their reporting style, and what topics they like to cover. Media outlets will often archive past pieces by individual reporters on their website.
You can also search the reporter’s Twitter account (or other social platforms) to learn more about their interests and what’s on their mind. In addition, reporters will often post if they are visiting a conference or otherwise out of the office so you can figure out when it’s best to contact them.
Develop interesting stories to pitch to media
There’s nothing like a great story idea presented to a reporter genuinely interested in that story’s topic to gain media interest. How can you come up with a great media story?
Below are a few ideas to get you started but keep in mind that there are as many ways to create stories as there are in your imagination.
Think of topics that will help your customers make good buying decisions.
As an expert in your field, you have a wealth of information and resources to help customers make good buying decisions. Offer your knowledge to show off your expertise, and the depth of your experience. Consider the most common concerns and questions you receive from customers to find topics. Searching your email inbox is a great way to do this.
When you present these topics to outlets, they may very well ask you to write the article yourself and then publish it. This is even better than a media interview as you create the content exactly as you like.
Offer the opportunity to interview your customers.
Find past customers who are your biggest fans with great stories. Perhaps someone has used your product and service to achieve an impressive result. These stories might need to be discovered as they are often not in plain sight. Talk to your customers and staff, and find the stories they have to tell.
Use previous online content as the basis for a media pitch.
If you have created great pieces of online content (e.g. a blog post), it can be used as the basis for a contributed article or a story pitch. Take the topic and revise it to create a new story since many outlets will not use previously published pieces.
Think in terms of what customers think about throughout the year.
Media are interested in timely stories that match up to holidays, yearly events, seasons, etc. Create story ideas that connect to these times of the year.
- Start of spring, summer, fall or winter
- Holidays like Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day etc.
- Times of year when customers turn to your products. For example if you sell personal electronics, you could present a story about the top products high school students need for back to school
Connect with targeted media contacts
You’ve figured out which reporters to contact and you have a terrific story idea. It’s now time to get in touch. I recommend starting with a snappy email that makes an impression with a follow-up call the next day. Make phone calls in the morning since reporters tend to get busy in the afternoon before their deadlines. Reporters’ contact information is often listed on the outlet’s website but if not, just call the main phone number and ask. You can also contact media through Twitter or other social media platforms if you see they are active there.
Gaining media coverage is not particularly complex but it takes some effort. With a bit work, however, you can connect with media to gain great coverage for your business, increase your business’s visibility within your target market, and boost your website’s SEO.