The media is full of stories about businesses of all kinds – small, large, innovative, personal, family and multinational. This brings a lot of publicity and sales to the businesses that are featured.
But are you one of those businesses that don’t get any media coverage at all? Do you see your competitors grabbing headlines when you know you could do so much better?
Well, one solution would be to hire a top-notch public relations firm and watch them work their magic. That’s fine if you have the budget, but what if you don’t?
Well in that case you’ll have to do it yourself – and that's something you can do easily, if you put the work in. The potential value to your business could be enormous.
The media is full of stories about business.
But these stories don’t get there by accident. They get there because the featured businesses learned what journalists needed, and they worked hard to make sure they provided it.
These stories brought great benefits to the businesses that were featured, including:
1) The publicity itself – just appearing in a regional or a national media outlets can bring great attention to your business.
2) Live links within the story. Readers who are interested enough to read the article are likely to be interested enough to click through and visit your site. Remember, people follow links like cars follow road signs.
3) Any coverage you get in major media creates an online buzz. Bloggers comment on what journalists have written and other journalists use published sources to find a new angle or do a follow-up story. This is what I call a cascade effect – get one piece of coverage and you’ll see more coverage and more links to your business appear.
4) You also get to have bragging rights. It’s a nice feeling to be able to say about your website, "as featured in the New York Times, or the BBC, or CNN". Such coverage really adds to your credibility and it means that people are more likely to buy from you.
5) And the final bonus is that because of the links you get, your search engine rankings will rise. Google likes authority links, and what could be more authoritative than a story that’s been written by a professional journalist and passed by an editor?
So how do you get media coverage?
First, you’ve got to understand what journalists need. That’s where a lot of businesses go wrong.
There’s no use being pushy or angry if they don’t respond – that will get you nowhere.
You’ve got to be patient, helpful and gradually build up trust – that takes time.
What journalists want – and what you must give them – are newsworthy stories, at the right time and in the right way.
Newsrooms are busy places. There’s a lot going on and the last thing you want to do is waste a journalist’s time.
The media image of an intrepid journalist, out to get his story whatever it takes, is a Hollywood invention. All but a very few journalists have time to really chase a story – the vast majority just have to work quickly and rarely have the time to gather all the relevant information they need.
They’re likely to be desk bound and work to tight deadlines: it’s a hugely pressurized job.
So if you understand and then solve their problem, they’ll love you forever ...
They want good stories and they want to hear real opinions from real people. It’s not just big companies that are of interest, but almost any business story. Many business defeat themselves by thinking no-one would be interested in them. The exact reverse is true.
Business Week Columnist, Carmine Gallo puts it really well, "As a journalist I learned that everyone has a story to tell ... whether you work in agriculture, automobiles, technology, finance or any number of other industries, you have a magnificent story to tell. Dig deep to identify that which you are most passionate about."
It’s that passion that will get a journalist interested in what you have to say.
And there are so many types of story that they might cover. Publishing, like any industry, has its models and its patterns that get repeated time and again. These story templates help a journalist create stories.
So get to understand the templates, fit your business into them and you’ll make yourself attractive to journalists.
A regional story ...
A personal story ...
A technological advance ...
So when you’ve got story ideas, how do you get in touch with journalists?
There are two immediate ways to start getting press coverage:
(i) by responding to journalist’s queries (ii) by issuing your own press releases
Both are easy to do ...
HelpaReporter.com (HARO) is one of the best – and free – places to start. HARO maintains that “everyone is an expert at something”.
And that addresses one of the big problem for journalists - they’re not usually subject experts. They have to write about a wide range of topics and just can’t be expert in them all. Therefore they need to contact ‘sources’ to give them reliable information.
Sign up to HARO and you’ll get 3 emails with 40-50 queries from journalists in each. Click on any that you’re interested in and follow the instructions to get in touch with the journalist.
Figure 4: A typical journalist’s query from HARO Next is to send out your own press releases.
Most press releases end up in the trash. Why? Because they didn’t give the journalist what they wanted.
Your press release must be carefully crafted. It must be:
- Have a good headline
- Short – about 200-400 words
- Well-written, direct and to the point
- Links to your website so that journalists can find out more
- Your contact details (and you must make yourself available to take follow up call).
Figure 5: Wordtracker press release on PRWeb.com
PRWeb.com is a good service to get started with, but you’ll also find PRNewswire.com and BusinessWire.com to be useful.
Journalists sign up to these services and get email lists of press releases every day. There can be 200-300 press releases in a single email so don’t be boring and predictable. Make your press release stand out by being clearly newsworthy – avoid any puns or teasers in your headlines – always be direct and professional.
Use these two approaches – HARO for responding to journalists queries, and PRWeb.com for sending your own press releases out – and you’ll soon be featuring in the media.
Introducing a Step-by-Step Guide to Attracting More Website Traffic, Customers and Sales with Online Public Relations
- What it really takes to get journalists to write about your business
- How an online PR campaign can double as a link building strategy – and significantly improve your search engine rankings
- How to write a mouthwatering press release that gets noticed by the media
- How to build a targeted list of reporters and bloggers who are hungry for your story
About Ken McGaffin
Ken McGaffin is an experienced internet marketing consultant and has worked for major pharmaceutical companies, advertising agencies, government bodies and non-profit organizations.
Ken unveils the secrets of successful link building in his 384-page e-book, Successful Link Building
You can watch recordings of his extremely popular (and free) Link Building Webinars