How to get Media Coverage and Exposure for your Business
Getting media coverage for your business has never been so important. 83% of people trust personal recommendations when it comes to buying a product or service according to a Nielson study. So third-party endorsement and recommendations are essential for brands in all sectors, including media endorsement.
It can influence and affect the way a business or individual is viewed by the wider public, which will impact its brand image but also its sales.
Obtaining press exposure for your business, whether online, in a newspaper or even broadcast is important for start-ups and established businesses alike if they hope to develop and expand. Below, we will expand on the different ways on how to get media coverage and exposure.
Why Media Coverage?
There are many reasons why should you seek media coverage:
- Getting your message out to a wide audience. The vast majority of the British public get our news and updates from a variety of media outlets – newspapers, online publications, television, social media and radio. So by being covered or even mentioned by some media outlets, your brand will reach new audiences and ultimately attract new prospects or potential partners, and all for free. Remember that one of the primary goals of a publication is to spread and distribute news as widely as possible so you should make the most of it, by building your brand profile in the local and wider community. With media coverage able to reach the masses, it can separate you from other brands in your sector. Not only can it strengthen current ties with donors, partners, members etc, it has the ability to attract new groups of the same ilk also. Brand recognition is essential to scale-up a business and PR can help you with this.
- Positioning you and your organisation as an expert in your sector. And that has much to do with the impact media coverage has on the public. A third party endorsement, from a reputable media outlet, is worth taking notice of and lends credibility to your brand and claim as an industry expert. In the PR industry, experts used to say “a third party endorsement is worth three times that of an advert,” and although it is quite difficult to be that precise many studies show that consumers trust adverts less and less, viewing them as little more than self-promotion.
- Increasing your sales. Yes, getting media coverage will help you increase your brand awareness and shape your brand image but not only that, press exposure can also directly impact your sales. As we said in the introduction, consumers more and more rely on reviews and external opinions to purchase a product or service. So appearing in a product review or feature piece will have a subsequent effect of generating traffic to your website and increase your sales.
How to get Media Coverage?
You’re eager to get media coverage and raise your brand’s profile, but is there a structured plan in place to achieve this goal? Fail to prepare, then prepare to fail. Firstly, understanding your target market will ensure that you are pitching to the relevant journalists and that your story aligns with their request.
Pinpointing the channels and platforms they use will make the task of finding the relevant journalists to contact and build that quality media list relatively easy. Utilising free analytics tools; notably Google Analytics; gives you your user’s interests and the channels they use to view content, whether it be through blogs, television, newspapers, or magazines. Using this information you can then start building a media contacts database. Once you have nailed down all the above, it’s time to interact with journalists. Here are a few ways on how.
Responding to media requests
Media Requests are editorial requests that journalists send when they need a certain story or an expert opinion for one of their pieces. It is one of the most overlooked aspects of PR, even though it is the easiest and least time-consuming way of obtaining media coverage. All that is required is a short introduction and description of you and your business, followed by a brief paragraph about why you’re relevant to the request. Ensure that you finish with your contact details so the journalist has means of contacting you. Keeping the response to a media request short and succinct will heighten the chances of your response being chosen as it means less work for the journalist.
Additionally, online PR platforms including JournoLink send media requests directly to your inbox. The Media Request feature on their platform is JournoLink’s PR database of journalists and bloggers send editorial requests when they need a comment or an expert’s opinion for their articles, meaning you don’t have to spend time searching for requests online. The feature allows you to respond instantly, if you deem the request relevant, leaving you to focus on other aspects of your business.
Creating your own stories
The biggest mistake many people make when responding to a media request or sending a press release is to reply with a generic, uninteresting response which is highly likely to fall by the wayside. A story should be what we consider ‘newsworthy’, in that it evokes interests and approaches a topic from an interesting and unique angle. Think you cannot craft such a story? Think again. You know your own story and company better than anyone, and the steps it took to get your brand to the position it is now in today. Including personal anecdotes and working relevant previous business experiences into the story can increase the likelihood of it being picked up by a journalist, the authenticity and detail of the content is something a PR agency would not be able to replicate.
Distributing a Press Release
Concocting a plan of the different ways to efficiently distribute your press release is equally as important as penning a newsworthy story. Having a great story will mean nothing if nobody sees or hears about it. Firstly, you want to ensure the look and the content of the press release is fit for the publication:
- Eye-catching Headline. You do not need to over-dramatise, but the headline is what catches the journalists’ attention. Look for a balance between explaining the story and using expressive language. The headline will help determine if a journalist is to read beyond the headline or not.
- An accompanying image. The image must be eye-catching and relevant. The journalist is far more likely to cover the story if it is accompanied by an image. Use newspapers or online news sites for inspiration.
- A newsworthy story. A mistake many individuals make when writing a story with the aim of achieving press coverage is that the content is rather mundane. The stories that receive press coverage incorporate storytelling into their content, and is seen as storytelling with a purpose. How a story is told is often more important than the topic itself, and creating a newsworthy piece means locating important or interesting information and subsequently presenting it in a manner that engages the audience.
Secondly, you want to ensure that your release reaches your target audience, and there are numerous options available to you:
- Work with a PR agency to distribute your release. They’re accustomed to working with journalists and know the right approach to take when contacting them.
- Use a press release distribution service to distribute your release. A more affordable option than using a PR agency, and JournoLink’s press release distribution system enables you to send your release to a vast database of 10,000 journalists, bloggers and influencers. An intelligent targeting system targets your stories at the relevant journalists in your sector and geographical areas you choose. Furthermore, it’ll offer you a step-by-step approach on the best format to write a press release.
- You can distribute your press release on social media. It is an effective, simple way to communicate with your audience, and with more journalists and bloggers regularly using the platforms, it is an alternative way to distribute your story to them.
Using Social Media to Get Coverage
In this digital age, social media has become integral to companies of all sizes, who implement it as part of their business strategy and they are platforms they simply cannot afford not to be active on. Journalists and bloggers are also active on social media, open to interaction with users and regularly source content and spokespeople on the platforms. Using hashtags including, but not limited to, #journorequest, #edrequest, and #PRrerequest, journalists will seek specific stories or individuals for a story, and replying to these requests can not only help you to gain coverage, but it can also start a key relationship.
How you present your profile and the content you post also contributes to whether you achieve press coverage. Be sure to include your field of expertise in your Linkedin and Twitter bios, ‘PR expert or ‘professional web designer’ for example, so journalists can identify you and your profession or industry sector. Furthermore regularly posting content related to your area of expertise and interacting with users on the topic will further enhance your credibility and your claim to be an expert. Content that generates traffic in the form of shares, likes and positive feedback will also enhance your credibility and subsequently increase your exposure to new audiences.
You also want to ensure you make full use of the different platforms and maximise their features. Twitter Lists are a valuable free resource, where you can create and place numerous lists of contacts. For instance, one list could contain publications that cover a specific topic, whereas another would house all the relevant journalists in a certain geographical region. Opening a list allows you to view what the contacts have posted in chronological order, enabling you to respond instantly to a request or comment on a post that you deem relevant.
In regards to PR, you shouldn’t solely look to build relationships with the media, but also create communities with business owners and influencers. Platforms such as Facebook and Linkedin enable you to join communities and groups related to your field. So whether creating a new group or joining one already established, it offers another angle for you to showcase your expertise and build relationships. Being part of these groups can grow your business, with the community you’re engaging with likely to recommend your business to others or perhaps recommend you to a journalist who is keen to liaise with an individual in a certain field.
Tips For Reaching Out To Journalists
Journalists are notoriously busy individuals, constantly moving from one piece to the next while having to meet strict deadlines. A single media request can often generate hundreds of responses, many of which the journalist will not take the time to view, so possessing a great story isn’t enough. If you think you have a story that a reporter should cover, take heed of these tips when reaching out to journalists:
- Search and reach out to the right journalists. As mentioned earlier, conduct research to ensure you're pitching to the relevant journalists and that their stories closely align with your content.
- Reach out to them, but do not promote. There is a time and place for self-promotion and this isn’t it. Introduce yourself, your brand and break down your story and how it is relevant to their request or their publication. Helping journalists visualise a piece is the best way to convince them to cover your business.
- Keep replies short and succinct. Journalists are appreciative of replies that span a few sentences and simply detail how the story is relevant to their request.
- Send the right content at the right time. Ensure that the news you plan to send the journalist is ‘newsworthy’ and not simply a mundane company update for example. Timing is crucial when it comes to sending a press release out. Linking your story to something happening in the news or to a trend will increase your chance of coverage. Furthermore, send the release out in the morning, when journalists are checking their inbox and planning for their day ahead.