Major media placements can be a boon to entrepreneurs. They increase brand awareness, build credibility, and generate massive amounts of traffic and sales. To give you a competitive advantage, below is a step-by-step checklist that teaches you how to go about securing media coverage without spending tens of thousands of dollars on hiring a PR firm or onboarding a freelance publicist.
The best way to start planning for any publicity campaign is to determine what makes you and your business newsworthy. Consider whether your service or business area is trending in the news. If not, then examine what is relevant and timely in your industry or on the local news. Is there any controversy or conflict that you can credibly weigh in on? Is there an event, new product or service, book launch, new location, or even a new hire that you can pitch as a newsworthy event? Answering these questions will give you a solid start to determining what makes your business newsworthy.
Now that you have what makes your business newsworthy, it’s time to look at what makes your business credible. In other words, what makes you and your business believable and trustworthy? Consider your academic and professional training and the types of media exposure you’ve generated for the speeches or talks you’ve given. Do you have a large audience, significant annual sales, or interesting and transformational life experiences? Any of these elements can help make you and your business more credible.
Since I started in the PR field more than 15 years ago, I’ve had clients ask me if they should use their website bios as their media bios, and my answer is always the same: “no”. Your website bio is generally longer and contains your story about your journey, how you started your business, and anything else that’s relevant. These bios can reach 5,000 words, whereas your media bio is short and concise. This bio is short and usually only two or three paragraphs (including what you want others to know about you and your business).
Your Perfect Media List
With your media bio now complete, you can start looking at where your story can potentially fit. To find the right media, you can Google “Editorial Calendar” + Publication Name to see the editorial calendar of what stories are in the queue. And then, you can Google outlet name + masthead to find out which editors cover specific topics and stories.
You could also go to the website of the publication you would like to pitch, and go to the “Masthead”, “About” or “Contact” pages for a list of all of the editors and their related beats. You can also go to LinkedIn or Twitter to find a media contact. Most editors are also on Twitter.
Your Subject Line
When securing media coverage your subject line is the most important part of your pitch. It should be interesting, and if possible, generate an emotional response from your reader. You can make a provocative statement or ask a question, if you wish. Just be sure to include the who, what, where, when, why, and how.
You’ll also want to start the subject line with what type of story you’re pitching – such as an interview, product review, feature story, article idea, etc. Here are two sample subject lines: one is good, and the other is not so.
- “ABC Company Announces the Launch of XYZ Product”
- Feature: “From Small Ghetto to Fifth Avenue: How this Entrepreneur Built a Family Empire”
The second one helped secure media coverage on Forbes.com, JustLuxe.com, HuffingtonPost.com and more.
The Pitch Itself
It doesn’t matter whether you’re pitching a footwear collection, a nightclub, or a software demo, you should consider tying your pitch to the current time of the year, or something trending in the news at that moment: the Oscars, Halloween, the latest viral video, etc. I find that tying product and service pitches to a specific time of the year gets more media interest because it’s timely.
When you pitch a journalist, you also need to make sure that your email conveys that you understand who the reader is, and what they are looking for. That’s how you gain rapport with members of the media. And although it’s a no-brainer, be sure to address your media contact specifically by their first name. Don’t start your email with a generic “Hi there” or “To whom it may concern”. Just because your email isn’t expected, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be personalized.
The body of your pitch should be between 200 and 300 words and devoted to telling a story about you and your brand. Add five to seven bullet points about your product or services that the reader can look over quickly. Remember, editors see the same generic pitches every day, so you have to make yours stand out. These five to seven bullet points should pop off the page. Without these bullets, your pitch will fall flat.
Pitch Follow Up
You’ve pitched your top media contacts, and you’re hoping for a positive response. The wait can seem like an eternity but resist any temptation to overwhelm your contact. It’s critical you are patient yet persistent.
Once you’ve pitched a media contact, only follow up three to four days later to see if they are interested in covering your story or doing an interview. If you don’t hear back right away, you can follow up one more time before pitching a new angle or product. But never call—unless you know the media contact personally.
If they don’t respond after two follow-ups, don’t be discouraged. Your company, brand, story, or product is simply not the right fit for any stories they are working on now. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in the future. You have to keep moving forward. I’ve pitched myself 10 or 15 times only to be rejected each time before finding success. If you are rejected, don’t let it get you down. It takes a thick skin to be successful.
Securing Media Coverage With A Press Releases
You can issue a press release when you’re sending a message out to the general public via a wire service company. We usually issue them when a client is releasing a book or a new product, a live event, or to make some type of announcement.
Having a fresh set of pitching angles is essential to keeping your brand media-ready. However, coming up with consistently interesting pitching angles for yourself or your business can be tiring and tough. To eliminate this from happening, here are a few exercises you can do:
- Give Quora.com a visit to see what people are asking about in your niche.
- Do keyword research on Google’s Keyword Planner to see what people are searching for. You can also look at UberSuggest.com.
- Look to see what topics are trending in your niche. Try to find a story angle that relates to national news or current events.
- Research what’s happening locally and pitch an editor or television producer in your market.
- See how you can add a new viewpoint to an existing article.
Booking More Interviews When Securing Media Coverage
Sending traffic, getting shares on social media, and generating comments for your press mentions, articles, and interviews will help you gain more media opportunities. This is because the more traction your media coverage gets, the more likely editors, journalists, and producers will ask you for quotes or other types of commentary. Additionally, keep in mind that the larger your social media followings and your audience are, the more likely media members will be to call on you for your expertise.
Striving to secure major media coverage that’s effective and relevant shouldn’t cost tens of thousands of dollars. If you have a strategic plan with newsworthy and credible points to pitch to the media, you will be successful. Just keep in mind patience and persistence are the keys to securing coverage that will help move the needle in your business.
About the Author of 10 Steps to Securing Media Coverage for Your Startup
Kristin Marquet runs marquet-media.com, a boutique creative consultancy that designs beautiful and feminine brands in the wedding, beauty, fashion, wellness, fitness cooking, photography and interior design industries. Passionate about learning, Kristin has advanced studies in data and marketing analytics. She has attended MIT, Boston University and NYU, and holds degrees in Literature and Marketing/Public Relations. She has contributed to forbes.com, inc.com, huffingtonpost.com, entrepreneur.com and nydailynews.com.