PR, Earned Media, and Press
Public relations. Once exclusively the domain of former journalists who want to finally afford a house and those who majored in partying at college, this field has a new source taking the world by storm—you! If you can send a half-decent email and have an interesting story to tell, getting press isn’t all that hard. The real trick is just that—you need an interesting story to tell. Journalists aren’t just going to mimic your press release because you asked them to.
What Makes a Story Worth Telling
Just as your own content marketing should tell a unique story, the ideas you want to pitch to journalists should help them tell a story they haven’t already told. Give them something that will keep their readers interested while also making their jobs as easy as possible for them. And whatever you do, make sure the story is angled to fit the needs of the publication and their audience, not you and your business goals.
Stories work best when they’re packaged around some sort of event or happening—an occurrence that feels timely and needs to be heard about NOW, before it gets stale. It could be a new product launch or the addition of an exciting feature. Better yet, come to journalists with some unique data that your company has been researching.
Let’s say you sell picture frames (online or offline, it doesn’t matter). An interesting story could be if you went out and researched the most popular different sizes of frames that people buy and then the most common types of art they put in each type of frame. Package it up in a beautiful PDF. Then reach out to relevant journalists, offering them a sneak peak of the findings before they’re available to the general public.
Boom—you’ve created something newsworthy and have given journalists something worth sharing with their audiences. This will not only help raise your brand’s standing, it will drive some traffic to your site and cultivate relationships that will be valuable down the line.
While you’re creating your story, you should concurrently be working on who you want to pitch it to. Create an Excel or Google Sheets document containing columns for publication name, journalist name, beat (or what stories they focus on), email address, status, and date of last attempt. Then start researching who might be interested in your story.
In our earlier example, this news would obviously be interesting for people who cover art news. It would also interest any framing trade publications. More broadly, it could also interest business news reporters. Think about other niches—if you package up the findings in it well, it could also interest the data science community and those who publicize beautiful representations of data.
Are you a local business? It may be easier to work your regional press, who aren’t as bombarded with requests, and once you have a bit of a track record you can point to, move on to more national brands.
Getting contact information for journalists can be as easy as finding a writer’s profile on their website or Twitter. Others may make it a bit tricker, but try searching their name, “@,” and the publication name. Or if nothing else works, email different variants of their first and last name/initials at their publication’s domain name.
Whatever you do, make sure to respect those that you email, and don’t bombard them with requests. If someone says they’re not interested, don’t think that emailing them again and again will change their mind. They have no obligation to even respond to your emails, let alone publish your story, so always be as courteous and respectful as possible.
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