In the first post, we set the scene. Media is a tough business and you have to put yourself in their shoes if you are going to understand how to approach them.
Below, there are 15 pieces of advice, that will help you win a nice steady stream of free media attention, which will strengthen your brand with your current and prospective clients, staff and investors…
Most media organisations like to post positive stories – not all journalists are looking for an axe to grind, but some are, so stay away from them.
There are some easy things you can do to increase the chances of your business being covered in a positive light, consistently…
- Have a MEDIA page on your website – here you will post your latest press releases, published news stories, clear links to people (or the person) inside your organisation that deals with media enquiries, and a library of logos, photos and images (in various media-friendly versions). Have press kits, backgrounders and case stories on your business. A good example of this is here: http://www.boundlss.com/press/ (simple, small AI business) or https://about.canva.com/press/ (large, well known business).
- Be AVAILABLE! Make yourself available to be interviewed over the phone or in person. Respond to media interviews, and act in a professional manner. (Treat journalists like clients, not pests!)
- Learn how to produce a well written professional MEDIA RELEASE. (The 3rd post in this series will deal with this.)
- Grab ATTENTION! There is a lot of clutter and too much information around, especially in media organisations under time pressure and with thin staffing levels. Cut through the clutter with a great headline and first paragraph. If you are talking about something very topical (war on waste, blockchain, AI, data analytics … ) then use that as your way in. Piggyback on existing stories that are already running well in media.
- Be INTERESTING! What’s unusual about your business or what you are doing? Give stats and trends. Give context.
- TEACH! Give something away in your story, something that people can take away and learn from. Something you have learned. Give in order to receive.
- Try to be real and HUMAN, and not overly rehearsed. You can be too media-trained. Think about what you are saying, but talk in a normal conversational way. Think about some nice snippy sound bites that the media could use and quote you on.
- Do your RESEARCH. Find out which journalists and online influencers write about your area, and get to know them. Reach out to them. Buy them a coffee. Show them what you are doing. Discover what stories they like to write about, their interests, and then feed them relevant stories over time. Listen to them. Thank them after the piece is published. Tweet the resultant article out mentioning their twitter handle.
- CUSTOMISE your message to the relevant media; in that way you can use the same basic story with more than one media outlet. Sometimes. But be careful, if you hock the exact same story around to all media, don’t be surprised if no one picks it up. Each media has their own audience, so you can change the message accordingly. Or sprinkle stories around different media over time (better).
- Become an AUTHORITY in your specialist area. Once you have had some media coverage, you may find the media comes to you for your thoughts. Great! This is free media you don’t even have to arrange beforehand, and it’s wonderful branding.
- FOLLOW UP! Just like the best sales people do. Don’t just smash out some press releases and hope events will take their course. They invariably won’t. You need to ring up and ask the journalist ‘Are you going to use the story? Would you like to arrange a time for a photo and interview?’ Get on the phone. Don’t hide behind a keyboard and just spam journos with emails. (The basic rule is: if you already have a good relationship with someone, email; if you don’t yet, pick up the phone.)
- Be REALISTIC. You may think you have the best thing since sliced bread, but the journo may not know you at all, or appreciate what you have developed. Building a media profile can take months and years. Not everything works. But if you persist, listen and learn, it will happen. Don’t be put off if you don’t get any media attention for a while.
- Use SOCIAL MEDIA. Be savvy. Pithy headlines that can be tweeted. If they are a play on words they may be shared well beyond your own networks. Think creatively. Follow journos on social media, twitter and LinkedIn especially. Remember to copy them in if the publish you.
- MULTIMEDIA. Can you do a 60 second video? A 10 second meme? Learning how to do this can make your message multiply many-fold.
- SHARE the coverage far and wide. When you do get covered, make sure you share this with all your networks. Print the article and frame it, display it in your boardroom or entry foyer for all to see (current and potential staff, clients, media, board members and investors…).
As in all things, persistence and patience wins.
Don’t do the above, and very little (if anything) will come to you. So don’t whinge that the media is ignoring if you do little yourself to make it happen.
The THIRD POST in this series will deal with Press Releases.