Creative Ways to Get Media Coverage
Awareness is half the battle of customer acquisition, of course, but developing relationships with the media is something public relations (PR) professionals work tirelessly at (e.g., effective outreach, industry understanding, ongoing reliability, rapport building, media research, client/media hand-holding). The role of an in-house PR manager, agency or contractor should not be understated as, if they are known to reporters, their emails will be opened first. Just as important, those very journalists/editors/influencers/analysts capable of providing press will reach out to them when help is needed for a developing story. That said, there are some tips to getting media coverage. Below you'll find valuable insights from nine notable PR professionals.
"If there’s one important thing I’ve learned over my 23-plus year career in technology PR it’s that gimmicks don’t have a place in an effective PR initiative. I always fall back on PR strategies that are proven to work. For example, a solid thought leadership campaign that leverages well-written content builds visibility for your company and top executives. Another strategy that works: well-timed media pitches that capitalize on a current newsworthy trend. This does require you to be quick on your feet because the news cycle is now so fast it’s very easy to miss the window of opportunity. "
~ Lori Scribner, President of Scribner Communications
"Use social media to break through the noise. The old standard was that you should tweet reporters to get their attention, but unfortunately, everyone started to do that. To really stand out, use Instagram or Snapchat. Comment on a photo story they've posted with a short message about how it related to your product or service. I guarantee that you will at least get their attention. Do not, under any circumstances, ever call a reporter. Even if you've found the missing tapes and videos that everyone is searching for. Even if the reporter is your best friend. Email them, or use social media. Reporters are usually on deadline, and calling them will only annoy them and turn them off."
~ Lara Miller, Owner of Lara Miller PR
"Pitch story ideas connected to breaking news that include your client as subject matter experts for quick hits, rather than shooting for features and profiles that are much more difficult to secure and may take a while to come to fruition. This approach is particularly effective when you’re caught in between your clients’ news announcements. When you write-up the pitch, be sure to craft an attention getting subject line and include your client’s bio, links to any recent media coverage in which they were quoted, and if you’re pitching broadcast segment producers, add links to any previous broadcast or speaking experiences."
~ Todd Barrish, President & Founder of Indicate Media
"Often times, I put on my 'reporter hat' to come up with interesting questions to ask the executives I work with. Once the responses are discussed and finalized, this allows me to introduce an interesting perspective to media.
For instance, 'What’s the biggest trend media aren’t talking about right now' can elicit unique story ideas that reporters might be more receptive to than a standard pitch."
-Shelby Pritchett, Account Supervisor at Finn Partners
"Many people still separate public relations from an integrated marketing strategy, but connecting the dots with social media, email, blog and other audience touchpoints will help generate bigger buzz to make a bigger impact. Knowing that there is a connection between PR and integrated marketing, come up with ideas that excite your intended audience and then integrate those ideas into a marketing campaign. If it costs more short-term to produce a bigger 'story,' it will be worth it long-term."
~ Matt Hensler, Founder and CEO of Hensler Agency
"Be a resource – media relations is a two-way street.
If you go out of your way to provide helpful information to a reporter (even if it doesn’t immediately benefit your company) they will view you as an asset and be more likely to listen to your pitch."
~ Amanda Moss, Vice President at Finn Partners
"Blast’s support of #GoodisWinning, a campaign that began ahead of and continued during Pope Francis’ U.S., involved a focus on emojis. Images that captured the pope’s humanity resulted in traditional and social feeding off each other to drive tremendous awareness."
~ Matt Caldecutt, SVP of Blast PR
"Invite a reporter to see how you solve big problems. One of our clients allowed a big name reporter to ride shotgun as a global CPG company worked on the future of their brand. You can also turn your expert knowledge about trending topics like 'Fake News,' 'Kale' or 'Cross-Fit' into media commentary that raises awareness of your brand in a clever and compelling way."
~ Lana McGilvray, Principal of Blast PR
"Investigate like a reporter to find topics not yet being discussed by the media, or where you can offer a truly unique viewpoint. Just as successful startups disrupt a space or fill a gap, bring your client to the media as the company that's disruptive, ties to a trending topic--or the media's favorite--that offers a contrarian approach.
Missed the prime window to newsjack a topic for your client to be cited as an expert source? Offer their most relevant thought leader to speak to trend implications and tips/takeaways for key stakeholders of the news in a follow up piece/guest post; aim to still do so within a week's time after the news broke.
Further, have a dream story headline, but nothing concrete to support it? You can change that. Build a data report around a budding trend in your client's industry. At Walker Sands we polled consumers on voice-controlled commerce to coincide with the rise of Amazon Echo and built questions with headlines in mind."
~Brittany Martin, Media Relations Strategist at Walker Sands Communications
Article updated on 7/27/17 to add more insights.