Media outreach is an effective way to connect with your target audience to gain exposure, increase brand awareness, and any other objective that you have set for your business. Earned media is different than paid and owned media, which are controlled by yourself and purchased. Earned media is thought to be less biased and more trusted, even in this age of fake news. If you want media outreach to work effectively in your favor, you have to work with – and for –journalists who are swamped with emails amongst very little time and a 24-hour news cycle.
Here’s nine tips on how to perform media outreach the right way – which is to think like a journalist.
Don’t Sell — Share.
Don’t try to sell anything to a journalist. Share your story, like the history of your business or brand, a (strong) opinion on something in your industry, offer introductions to other relevant people, etc. No matter what you do, do the journalist’s job for them. Give them interesting, relevant content to share with their readers.
No Cold Calling.
Journalists are busy people who work with hectic and time-sensitive schedules. Your unscheduled, cold call can interrupt their workflow and likely make them angry, which makes them more likely to not want to hear what you have to say. Stick to a compelling, relevant, and short pitch via email.
Play Your Part.
Instead of making your brand the star of the story, play a supporting role by fitting your brand into the context of what’s going on within your sector. You can pose yourself as a thought leader and important voice in your industry, which can go over well with media who have already covered those relevant issues.
Journalism is dependent on strong relationships, relevancy, and accuracy. Stow away the press releases as journalists don’t consider them actual news. Create a specific and tailored pitch to be sent to the right reporter.
Before reaching out, do your research on the best journalists – those who have already written of or write about your industry. This means genuine interest and a better story that can be crafted to reach your audience. Look at their authored articles or news stories and how people engage with them. Check out their social media accounts to see how they engage with others and what they present an interest in. Mass pitches with no personalization are rarely able to reach journalists.
Stay in Your Lane.
Stick to your industry and area of expertise. You have to provide thoughtful and relevant commentary to present as a story to journalists if that’s your angle. Journalists are looking for people who know what they’re talking about as subject matter experts. Stick to what you know and be selective when pitching to journalists, especially those that are in your industry or demonstrate interest.
Do Your Homework.
Research which publications are consumed by your target audience and find the right editors. Be a resource by making their busy lives easier by giving them interesting, relevant, and newsworthy content. Reference their previous stories that inspired your own pitch and explain why it’s meaningful to their audience. Personalize your outreach.
Serve the Audience First.
You have to serve your audience or target audience what they want, which is something more than a sales pitch. Sales pitches are not what makes people care. Interesting stories are what make people care and want to engage and learn more. This is more than an opportunity to sell your brand or business, but to develop meaningful relationships.
Build Trust Before Pitching.
Earned media starts with developing a relationship. Getting media coverage is not as easy as contacting a journalist with a pitch and getting results. It takes time and effort and most importantly, a foundation based on trust. Make their job easier by lessening focus on pitching, but giving them something they can work with.
The trick to media coverage is having a story. Your story, if told right, can have a far-reaching impact that goes beyond the bottom line. You’ve got to tell an interesting story with a well-constructed narrative, as well as understand how to appeal to the desires of the media – both audiences and journalists. The above steps to storytelling can get you on the track to awareness for your brand or business.
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