Gaining Traction With the Media

When I work with students and clients I like to tell them that there are four ways that consumers (whether B2B or B2C) learn about companies and their products and services:
  • Their own personal experiences
  • Word of mouth (WOM) from colleagues, friends and relatives
  • Media coverage/PR
  • Advertising done by these organizations

I list them in order from most impactful, to least. And, while advertising certainly plays an important role for many organizations, media exposure is more credible. Why? Because media coverage represents somebody else talking about you, versus you talking about yourself. It is not necessary to spend a lot of money on traditional advertising to get results these days. In fact, there are multiple opportunities for even the smallest of organizations to make an impact. For those seeking to boost awareness, preference and demand for their products and services without investing large amounts of money in paid advertising, the steps are:

  • Make sure you are offering a product/service that will please those that purchase or use it (personal experience)
  • Encourage those you serve to share their positive experiences with others, and minimize any potential negative experiences (WOM)
  • Seek third-party endorsements/coverage of your organization and what you have to offer (media coverage/PR)

How to gain traction with the media? It’s not as difficult as it may seem, but it does require a different way of thinking–a shift from ” me, me, me” to “you, you, you.” Following are some tips to get you started:

  • Clearly identify your goals and objectives. What is it that you wish to achieve? Do you want to establish yourself as a thought leader/expert? Position yourself favorably relative to competitors? Generate inquiries/leads/customers?
  • Clearly identify your target audience. Who are you, ultimately, trying to reach?
  • Based on your desired target audience, determine which media outlets will best meet your needs. Make a list and prioritize that list to provide you with a specific focus.
  • Read/review your desired media outlets. What types of material/information do they cover? Who are their reporters/editors? Your goal is to pitch them material that will meet their needs so it pays to know as much as you can about them so as not to “miss the mark.”
  • Make connections. Remember the “R” in public relations — this is a relationship business. You need to get to know the media “gatekeepers” who can put your name in the news. Follow them on Twitter. Connect with them on LinkedIn. Reach out via email/phone. But do so with a purpose. These are busy people and unless you have something relevant to offer them you are wasting their time – and yours!
  • Find a news angle for any of your pitches. The media is not in the business of promoting you, or your business. They are in the business of providing newsworthy information to their audiences. To be successful in pitching to them you need to deliver on the news angle – blatant marketing or self-promotion is a huge turnoff!
  • Be accessible and helpful. It’s a competitive world out there and many people are clamoring for coverage. If you want to be picked, you need to be available, provide relevant, on-point and accurate information and be as helpful as possible. This means providing a lot of background information and detail, pointing out other sources of information, etc.

It’s not difficult to do. We know–we’ve done it. You can too!
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