There are 400 million entrepreneurs in the world. That’s a lot of people competing for attention, especially from the media. Whether you’re in the beginning launch stages of your small business, or you have been operating for some time and you’re looking for a brand awareness boost, getting media coverage in the right places can build some serious buzz around your brand. But how do you get the media to notice you among the sea of entrepreneurs?
The answer is simple: Give them something to be interested in.
The three areas to focus on to make sure you stand out among the thousands of media pitches from entrepreneurs are story, strategy, and execution.
You need to be about so much more than just your business and what you have to offer. Look beyond the features of your business to see all of the benefits. Once you have identified the benefits, create a human-interest story that relates. Then you can have fun with showcasing the story.
A few ways to showcase your story are:
- Social Media: Easily the most accessible means to tell your story to a wide-reaching audience, social media is something you generally have control over when it comes to the messaging. Create a content campaign and engage your audience on each platform.
- Public Stunt: While public stunts often require a higher budget and a creative mind to plan something unique, they are meant to be memorable and shareable. Remember, anything that happens in real time can be shared on social media.
- VIP Event: A great VIP event can double as a connector with your consumer audience as well as a targeted list of media. When planning your event, make sure the objectives are in line with the story you want to tell. For example, a circus theme might not necessarily create the best atmosphere for a sombre story.
After your story has been developed, you need to figure out how to get in front of the media and to make yourself heard. Remember that depending on your media contact, they get hundreds of pitches daily. So, before you send that email, make sure you are ready to fight for your story.
Here are three things to consider:
- Targeting: Build a smart media list. Your story won’t appeal to every outlet/reporter. Figure out what the best media targets are for you and focus on those. This will be the most important thing you can do to work towards media coverage success.
- Timing: It’s always best to start early. You will have to work around their editorial requirements. For some print magazines, that means 6 months in advance! Do your research on individual outlet requirements.
- Availability: Don’t pitch the media if you won’t be available for an interview. If you are planning a vacation in a couple of days, wait until you get back. You might be quite upset if your favourite morning show called to have you on air, but you weren’t available!
A great strategy can fall flat if you don’t follow through on it 100%. It might take some time. Keep in mind that the media hasn’t ever heard of you or your business before, so they will need to do some research before getting back to you. That means learning patience and knowing when to pressure and when to back off.
These three things will help you carry through on your strategic media objectives:
- The Pitch: It’s important to get your pitch right the first time. Keep it short and to the point, focusing only on important details. And always find a way to tie your story into your contact’s work – that means reading articles they have done previously! If building a targeted list is the most important thing you can do, then this is the second-most important thing you can do. The media wants to know that you are paying attention to what they have to say.
- Following up: Don’t be too aggressive with your follow ups, and unless you have a great relationship with your media contact (or you know they prefer otherwise), stick to email. After the initial pitch wait a couple of days before following up, then about a week if you still haven’t heard.
- Moving on: While some media will respond to you either way, you may not hear back at all. It can be understandably frustrating, but there are a number of unknown factors you’re up against. You could have just pitched on a really busy day. It’s time to move on. You can regroup and try again with another story angle at a later date.
Candace Huntly is Founder and Partner at SongBird Marketing Communications, an award-winning agency working to take organizational and individual brands to the next level. With a passion for all things related to creativity and strategy, she specializes in business intelligence, marketing & branding, content strategy & development, media & influencer relations, and social media. Basically, if you need to put your brand, product, or cause in the public eye, she will find a way to do it, while making the approach unique to you.
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