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.  

Newsworthiness

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.

Credibility  

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. 

Media Bio

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.

Pitching Angles

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.


Much like the eye-catching front cover of a magazine, your website is an introduction to what’s inside your business – a window to your world.

If done correctly, it can convey your expertise and professionalism, foster customer confidence and trust, and brand you as a credible employer attracting people who want to work for you. Given this, what kind of content should you have on your website to optimise your communication?

1. Use well thought out content that communicates your culture

Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?

These questions can be answered throughout your home page, about us section, services page, etc. One point to remember is copy for the web should be different for that meant for print. Most people skim read websites rather than loiter; your main aim is to give people what they want to see in the blink of an eye and the search engines great content so you will be found online.

The essence of website content is originality. Search engines and your audiences want original and genuine content. Communicate the company ethos and personality, forget the industry jargon, and keep the updates regular.

2. Create a news page

One page that’s often overlooked but is incredibly important in promoting your business is the news page. Some companies use a blog for this. The news page is where you can communicate what it is you do, in real time.

Developing a news page can have a positive impact on your business for a number of reasons

  • Keeps your staff, customers, stakeholders and the wider community engaged with your business.
  • Builds your image and reputation.
  • Illustrates how proactive you are within your business.
  • Original content will be proactively promoted throughout search engines thus increasing traffic to your website.

Get your blog or news page going today with these easy to follow tips:

  1. Consider a brief headline. In any search result only the first 50-60 characters of the title will appear. Never repeat your headline in consecutive posts! Search engines will assume it’s a duplicate of the last piece and place it way down the search results list.
  2. Write for your audience. Use a conversational tone to engage the people you want to engage.
  1. Keep your sentences short with no jargon. Lists can be good to allow you get to the point, but again, only use them where relevant.
  1. Don’t fill the content with the same key word. Constantly repeating the name of your business within every article will place you at a disadvantage. Search engines will move you further down the search list.
  1. Use photos, and if you have them, videos. News that can illustrate the story is far more engaging for the reader.
  1. Add a quote from a spokesperson. This could be your MD, line manager, or customer. Not only do quotes add weight and perspective to a story, but they make it real.

Remember the magazine cover. If you want people to have a good feeling about you, make sure you look the part and also talk the part. You are an expert in your field, so regular content updates make it much easier for people to understand you, find you, and ultimately enquire about your services!


I read the funniest e-shot I have ever read last week, I declared it a great piece of PR.

Why?

Because it’s a great story, it connects with people, it has personality, it’s human, it isn’t selling something, and it’s memorable.

Here it is in its entirety:

David Parkin, Director of events and travel business COPA, on getting run over…by a golf buggy

Getting run over by a golf buggy wasn’t my finest sporting hour.

It isn’t a story I’m eager to tell either.

But memories of that infamous occasion came flooding back this week with the news of the death of great Fleet Street sports writer and editor Peter Corrigan from cancer at the age of 80.

You see it was Peter who was at the wheel of the golf buggy that landed on top of me. Given that such vehicles travel at a top speed of 5mph you must be wondering how I found myself under its wheels.

I still am too.

Cardiff-born Peter’s career saw him go from tea boy at the South Wales Echo to sports editor of The Observe presiding over a team of stellar talents including the nonpareil Hugh Mclivanney.

In between those two roles he worked at almost every newspaper in Fleet Street and helped write the autobiographies of England’s 1966 World Cup winner Martin Peters and rugby great Jonathan Davies.

One of his biggest scoops came in 1962 when he was on holiday in Italy with his wife and bumped into Wales, Leeds United and Juventus legend John Charles on a beach.

When Peter enquired: “How you doing Charlo?” the footballing giant replied: “I’ll give you an exclusive, I’m going back to Leeds.”

He was later appointed chief sports columnist for the Independent on Sunday and wrote The Hacker column about his golfing exploits.

That was what he was doing when I met him a few years ago when I was business editor of the Yorkshire Post and offered a tempting “freebie” trip to play several top golf courses on the Algarve in Portugal.

I joined a handful of journalists as guests of a luxury golf tours firm.

We stayed in separate apartments at the top end Pine Cliffs golf resort and on the first morning were booked to play the well known Quinta do Lago course.

The course was pretty busy so we started on the 10th hole and had all got into our stride by the time we were getting to the halfway stage on the first tee.

I smacked my tee shot into some bushes at the top of a bank on the side of the fairway and set off to find the ball.

Peter Corrigan, who I was sharing a buggy with, followed me up the bank as I whacked my ball out of the bushes and back onto the fairway.

But it didn’t travel very far and I walked down the slope to hit the ball again.

What I didn’t realise was that Peter had driven the buggy down the bank behind me and instead of putting his foot on the brake, pressed down on the accelerator.

I heard a shout of: “Get out of the way!” turned my head but before I had a chance to leap clear the buggy had hit me and I was aware of rolling underneath its wheels as it continued down the hill for several metres before coming to a stop.

During those brief seconds under the buggy I remember all I could think was: “I’m going to die.”

When the buggy finally came to a stop I was spread-eagled lying on my chest underneath it.

The first thing I thought was: “I’m alive!”

All I could hear Peter Corrigan shouting to passing golfers was: “He’s dead. He’s f***ing dead!”

The two other people playing with us ran across the course and it took them and Peter’s efforts to lift the buggy up so I could crawl out.

One of them later told me that all he could see when he ran over to help was a golf buggy with a white golf shoe sticking out from underneath it.

He said it reminded him of that scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy’s house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East and all you can see is her scarlet slipper poking out from under the wooden house.

Having emerged from under the buggy, the adrenalin of knowing I was still alive enabled me to stand up for a few seconds before collapsing on the fairway.

The leather belt on my golf trousers had nearly been sliced in half, my thick polo shirt was torn open at the back and there were holes in the knees of my trousers.

I still have the shirt at home. I should frame it like other sportsmen frame their international shirts.

A member of staff arrived in a buggy to take me to the golf resort’s medical centre.

I later commented that not one person sitting on the terrace of the clubhouse who had witnessed the accident had come over to help

“No, but they did give you a standing ovation when you were driven past them in the buggy on the way to the medical centre,” pointed out Peter helpfully.

At the medical centre I was checked over by a German medic called Dr Kaiser (with a story this ridiculous you don’t need to make a name up like that).

He told me I was exceedingly lucky as there didn’t look to be any internal injuries or broken bones but he said I had a couple of black eyes and cuts and bruises to my back.

“But my chest is really burning,” I complained.

“It will be, you’ve got a tyre mark right across it,” explained Dr Kaiser.

At that point Peter Corrigan burst into the examination room.

I said it was kind of him to come back to check if I was OK.

“I had to, that accident really affected my concentration and ruined my round,” he replied.

All the best Peter, thanks for the (painful) memories.

 

So what is it that we can learn from this and why is it such a good piece of PR?

The topic may be golf but you don’t have to be a club member, or have in-depth knowledge of the game to appreciate that this story is gripping, informative, funny, and packed full of human interest.

Be honest with yourself, how many e-shots do you receive in a week? How many do you remember?

Most e-shots I receive go straight to spam whereby I delete on mass, but this one I read.

I read it because the title pricked my curiosity, ‘…getting run over by a golf buggy’, you don’t hear that every day!

After the first paragraph you are absolutely hooked by the authors submission to share what must have been an embarrassing, not to mention worrying, experience.

Once gripped you taken through paragraphs of humorous detailing that serve to enhance the story before ending on serious note, the authors nod to a deceased colleague.

So before you approach your keyboard, just think, how can my story connect, engage, entertain, and be memorable.

Sounds hard? Start with giving a bit more of yourself like this author did, after all PR is about positive relationships so start creating them.


When I received feedback from a client that read, “Thank you for your advice, we put it into action and it went down a storm! We never thought we would accomplish what we did, thank you”, I considered that a priceless comment!

This company achieved a full-page news article in their local newspaper, based on our advice and input concerning media relations. Never before had they attempted this, believing they weren’t good enough, interesting enough or newsworthy.

They achieved what they deemed to be the unachievable, and also received a huge dose of recognition and credibility – I love PR for having the power to do that.

How did they achieve this? They developed a story that was authentic and relevant to their audience.

Here I share with you 3 PR tips to help you capture media attention, whether its for yourself or your business.

1. Be interesting

How do you make your story interesting but, keep it authentic and rich with content that is relevant to your audience. Be honest with yourself, is the story you are contemplating interesting? Maybe you have a hero in your business, a product that makes your customers’ lives easier, or a quirky service.

Just think of the most gripping stories, they can be exciting, scary or enlightening – but regardless, they engage.

Just think of the most gripping stories, they can be exciting, scary or enlightening – but regardless, they engage. One of my clients didn’t think they had much to announce this month so we got talking about business and developments and it turned out they had achieved new business on a national scale. From a provincial business they had developed into a UK wide business. We were able to develop a piece of communication around this to ensure the audiences they wanted to engage with knew about their capability and credibility nationally.

2. Be unique

Maybe you have a new service or product, or have achieved something unique in your industry. Maybe you are the only company in your industry to reach a particular milestone. Perhaps your recent new starter is unique – perhaps the only male in a female environment? Maybe your product is the first of its kind off the production line.

It isn’t good enough to create corporate fluff dressed up as a good story; think about how you would want to read about you. Only last week we identified a story that demonstrated my clients business performance and innovation in their market with their investment in electric vehicles. This is a worthy piece of communication for my client as they are the first company in their sector to make this investment.

3. Be newsworthy

Putting aside scandal and conflict, which the media love to focus on, ask yourself: Is my story really news? Is it bang on trend, an opinion piece, or hard-hitting? Is it filled with human interest and local interest?

Ensure it is timely – and by that I mean current. Your stories need to be fresh, and relevant to the media channel you are engaging.  We easily achieved success for a high school that had organised a school trip to England’s chocolate capital to learn about its history and heritage. No, it isn’t hard-hitting news, but it’s full of human interest, relevant to the geography of the school, and let’s face it – who doesn’t like chocolate?

If you can identify a few of these PR nuggets you’ll be achieving top quality PR results that will connect you to your audience, create more understanding about what you do, and develop your reputation. What’s not to love about PR!


Is Your Small Business Making These Marketing Mistakes?

Most small businesses don’t have extra resources to throw around in a bid to get more customers. However, many decisions that are made don’t result in the best use of the limited resources they do have.

Check out the following 7 marketing mistakes that your business might be making, and see if you can make improvements in the way you’re marketing your business.

1. Mixed Messages = Confused Customers

A lack of cohesive branding sends confusing messages to your customers which dilutes what you’re saying, and leaves them unclear about what solutions you can help them with. This is often due to a haphazard approach to marketing and lack of an overall strategic plan.

Solution: Take some time to plan out what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there.

2. Stopping, starting & not getting any traction

This type of uncertainty comes about because there is little understanding of what marketing options are available, what will work best for your business and how to implement them so they work together to get you more business.

Solution: Consider getting help to put together your plan and to manage the implementation if that is a weak spot for your business.

3. No way of accurately measuring your Return on Investment

Without information on your key marketing metrics, you could be wasting money on activities that aren’t bringing in new customers or encouraging repeat business from your existing customers. Gut feel is important but not always accurate.

Solution: Put in place achievable goals and tracking so you can easily see what needs to be improved.

4. Unclear product benefits

A visitor to your website, a customer stepping into your business or someone looking at your brochure, should be able to tell within a few seconds what your business can offer them and the key way that you can solve their problem. Many small businesses feel that the benefits of their product are obvious and don’t need explaining.

Solution: Be clear about how your product or service can help your target market.

5. Following others & getting distracted

What works for one business in one market doesn’t necessarily work for other businesses. Just because everyone is doing social media training or jumping on to Instagram doesn’t mean you automatically need to do that too.

Solution: Training & mentoring to help you and your staff implement your plan and be a sounding board for any deviations.

6. No information that explains your expertise

Right after a potential customer has worked out what your product can do and whether it can help them solve their problem, they want to know how you can support that claim. What credibility can you offer?

Solution: Demonstrate your expertise through examples, case studies, testimonials and weave it into your product or service descriptions.

7. Making it hard for customers

There are a number of things that need to come together to make it easy for customers to order from you. Relying on your customers to be committed and seek out the information they need is not a good strategy for success.

Solution: Review where you’re getting it right and what areas can be improved.

Taking a more strategic and considered approach to marketing may seem tedious if you just want to get on and sell more as soon as possible but a little bit of planning upfront will provide benefits that you can build on for many years to come.

Featured image via Pixabay under Creative Commons CC0

 

JIll-Brennan-Leaders-in-Heels-imgJill Brennan

Jill Brennan is a marketing consultant, mentor and the founder of Harbren Marketing. With around 20 years in the small business trenches, she takes the headache out of marketing by working with small business owners to build their own marketing engine. Get a more detailed guide to the 7 Small Business Marketing Mistakes at harbren.com.


Maybe you’ve put a lot of energy into getting your branding right, the brochure is nothing less than a masterpiece, you feel proud to share it, maybe your website is the same, a visual masterpiece, this in itself is good PR but it isn’t where communication stops.

Today, consumers expect you to be present on social media channels. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat all actively encourage brands to set up profiles. But is it enough just to be visible? If you want to really engage with your customers, you need to go where they spend most of their time – and embrace social media or be left behind.

Here are my top 10 tips for brands to make their PR socially engaging:

  1. Make sure your content is targeted and relevant to your audience. Social media users share a wealth of information about themselves – use it wisely.
  1. It’s not a sales pitch. They have invited you into their phones and their homes – sales driven updates will only annoy your audience.
  1. Post regularly – but don’t make trivial updates for the sake of updates. They don’t care what you’ve had for lunch – unless you’re a food critic!
  1. Everyone loves a freebie. Consider offering a promotional code or small gifts to encourage initial sign-ups.
  1. Your customers will create content around your brand if they love the product or service experience. Encourage them, real recommendations are worth far more than any paid advertising.

If you want to really engage with your customers, you need to go where they spend most of their time – and embrace social media or be left behind

  1. Monitor what is being said. Social media happens in real-time and you’ll be ready to grasp unique opportunities and prevent any negativity before it spreads.
  1. Social media is replacing customer service phone numbers. Why would a customer call to tell you something is wrong when they can do it quickly and publicly shame you across social media? Turn it to your advantage with a speedy, transparent and human response that highlights your excellent customer service skills.
  1. Support your content with images and videos – they are more likely to be viewed and shared than plain text.
  1. Dare to be different. Don’t bore customers by posting the same content week after week. Try something new now and again.
  1. Lastly always keep a record of your campaigns and social click-throughs to your website. What has worked? What hasn’t worked? How can you adapt future campaigns to ensure success?

I’m working with a company who planned PR into their strategy for growth, they knew exactly how it would work within their company, and what they wanted it to achieve. From their website, to social media and print media they engaged PR to develop a consistent message across all platforms. As a result of this activity they won a hundred thousand pound contract!

Plan your communication and join it up to embrace all the channels available to you. This is public relations use it and share it and watch your public image grow.